WEST NEWBURY — The race to replace veteran state Rep. Harriett Stanley — the famously bipartisan Democrat who will step down after 18 years representing the 2nd Essex District on Beacon Hill — comes down to two political outsiders.
But Democrat Barry Fogel and Republican Lenny Mirra have been working hard to go from relative unknowns to earning a seat in the Legislature.
Neither Fogel or Mirra have ever held elected office, but both have spent the past few months aggressively campaigning for the seat and facing off in three debates.
Fogel has emphasized his three decades of experience in law, arguing that his work drafting and implementing legislation makes him most qualified for the job. Mirra, meanwhile, has championed himself as an advocate for small business who will rein in wasteful spending and bring about business-friendly reforms.
The two candidates, who both live in West Newbury, do share similar views in some areas. For instance, both have said they support reducing the state sales tax to 5 percent while also reducing the state income tax. On other matters, such as government regulation, the two candidates differ greatly.
“Everything from hiring procedures to putting license plates on trucks, everything seems to have too much bureaucracy and regulation,” Mirra told The Daily News last month, adding that he thinks all the bureaucracy hurts small businesses and limits their ability to thrive.
Fogel said he opposes unreasonable and overly burdensome regulation, but called himself a strong advocate for fair regulation with reasonable implementation of the rules. Fogel has also been more positive about the condition of the state economy, saying that things have been improving since the financial collapse of 2008 sent shockwaves through Massachusetts.
“We have an improving economy,” Fogel said, adding that the state unemployment rate is below the national average. He said his job on Beacon Hill would be to ensure that the recovery continues.