EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 16, 2013

Methuen council candidates debate

War of words erupts over public health and legal spending

(Continued)

“In the long run, we don’t know what costs are going to be involved,” he said.

Fountain, who led an unsuccessful search for a city attorney earlier this year, said the outside firm can give neutral advice not tainted by local politics.

“I think it takes the gray areas and politics out of the office,” he said. “You can get an answer in black and white. So far since we instituted the private law firm, we have had cost savings. Cost savings is the way to go.”

Willette said the city needs an attorney on hand at City Council meetings and questioned why a assistant city solicitor, who also serves as director of human resources, was hired for the position without being able to step in as interim solicitor if needed.

“I don’t know why we would have an assistant city solicitor who is not qualified to serve as city solicitor,” he said.

All three candidates said the council should go through the city budget line by line and, Kazanjian said, “Rip it apart.’’

Willette repeated a pledge he has taken in the past to “vote against residential property (tax) increases, and I will vote against inflated budgets.”

Fountain said he proposed a number of cuts to the last two budgets that did not garner the support of a majority of his fellow councilors.

Both Willette and Fountain said routes 113 and 110 around the rotary at Interstate 93, which will be replaced in a project starting next year, should be rezoned for commercial and/or manufacturing development.

The debate was held last night at MCTV’s studio off North Lowell Street. It will air on MCTV starting Friday. MCTV will host debates for the East District and Central District candidates tonight that will air Friday. Debates for the at-large council and mayoral candidates will be held tomorrow starting at 6 p.m. and will air live, with repeats airing Monday and Tuesday.

The election will be Nov. 5.

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