EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2012

Editorial: Here are our choices in local legislative races

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — There are a number of legislative races in districts across the Merrimack Valley. On Tuesday, voters will make their choices.

Our purpose in offering endorsements in these state legislative races is not to “tell voters how to vote” but rather to offer readers our views on which candidates will best represent the interests of the people of the Merrimack Valley. This election is a turning point, an opportunity for voters to make a fundamental change in the way they are governed.

Jobs and the economy are the overriding issues in this election. We generally favor candidates who support policies that we believe will strengthen the economy and promote job growth.

Here are our choices:

State Senate, 1st Essex District: This is a four-way race to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Steven Baddour of Methuen. The candidates are: Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Democrat of Newburyport; Shaun Toohey, Republican of Haverhill, James Kelcourse of Amesbury, independent; and Paul Magliocchetti of Haverhill, independent.

We favor Magliocchetti, a lawyer and current member of the Haverhill School Committee. Magliocchetti would be a fiscal watchdog for the Merrimack Valley, vowing to consider new taxes only after searching the state budget for spending cuts and seeing state agencies reformed to “bare-bones” levels. He wants to see a graduated sales tax to help local businesses competing with those in tax-free New Hampshire and suggests that tax-free zones might help revitalize local downtowns. This kind of “out-of-the-box” thinking would be a refreshing change on Beacon Hill.

State Senate, 2nd Essex and Middlesex District: Barry Finegold, Democrat, and Paul Adams, Republican. No endorsement.

State representative, 2nd Essex District: We support Leonard Mirra, Republican of West Newbury, over Democrat Barry Fogel of West Newbury. Mirra is singing our tune on a number of issues. He calls for real ethics reform on Beacon Hill that would apply serious penalties to those engaging in patronage hiring. He wants pension reform that ends double-dipping by public employees and unlimited accumulation of their sick and vacation time. He wants more stringent reforms of the EBT card system to assure that payments only go to those truly in need. Those three reforms alone could save the state millions.

State representative, 14th Essex District: Diana DiZoglio, Democrat, and Karin Rhoton, Republican. No endorsement.

State representative, 16th Essex District: We favor incumbent Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, over independent challenger Jose L. Santiago of Lawrence. The residents of Lawrence had their fill of Santiago in the late 1990s when he served two terms as a state representative. That was sufficient. Devers is genuinely committed to helping improve the lives of Lawrence residents. In the Legislature, he is working on promoting jobs and improving the economy in Lawrence, supporting education for the city’s children and supporting the fight against crime in the city. It is a difficult job but Devers’ heart is in the right place.

State representative, 17th Essex District: We support Kevin Cuff of Andover, a former Democrat who is now independent. Cuff says the key issue in the district is the stabilization of Lawrence, encouraging home ownership and reforming the political culture to one that residents can trust. That, in turn will encourage business investment in the city.

State representative, 18th Essex District: We favor Jim Lyons, the Republican incumbent. Lyons, with his no-holds-barred conservatism, has been a thorn in the side of the entrenched Beacon Hill culture. His opponent, Democrat Barbara L’Italien, has been a participant in one of the more obscene examples of political patronage we’ve witnessed. Voted out as the 18th Essex representative two years ago, L’Italien’s political allies parked her in a $100,000-a-year, make-work job at the state treasury until she was ready to run again. Outrageous!

Register of Deeds, North Essex District: We like John “Jack” Wilson, Republican of Andover. Wilson, a longtime real estate attorney, has the experience needed for the job. He promises to make the agency more customer friendly.