NEWBURYPORT - The debate among candidates for the 1st Essex Senate seat moved to Newburyport last night, and the four candidates to succeed former lawmaker Steve Baddour all suggested the next senator must contribute to improving economic conditions in the district.
Two candidates stated the Commonwealth should roll back the state sales tax, but Kathleen O’Connor Ives differed by suggesting that a comprehensive tax-reform strategy should be employed before tampering with tax tables.
Presenting their thoughts in the high school auditorium, about a third full, were O’Connor Ives, a Democrat from Newburyport, Republican Shaun Toohey of Haverhill and independents James Kelcourse of Amesbury and Paul Magliocchetti of Haverhill.
Because much of the district borders New Hampshire, two candidates suggested lowering the sales tax as a means to compete with enterprises in the Granite State.
Magliocchetti, a lawyer and former manufacturing executive, said as senator he would push for the Commonwealth to roll back its sales tax on several levels.
He said that “border towns should have a 2 percent sales tax, border towns to border towns should have a 4 percent sales tax and the state itself should be about 5 percent.”
Twomey, a mortgage banker, said that the state sales tax should be reduced (from 6.25 percent) to 5 percent to stimulate growth and compete with New Hampshire.
Kelcourse, a lawyer, said that as senator he would push for job creation and would encourage growth in strong areas like tourism and recreation. Kelcourse also suggested holding tax holidays throughout the region, including no-tax days on expensive purchases like cars and boats.
Ives articulated a different approach, suggesting that “the best way to beat New Hampshire is to create a stronger Massachusetts.” She noted that New Hampshire has very high real estate taxes, and stated that a broader view should be taken concerning economic growth.