The candidates were asked to give their perspective on the importance of political parties at the Statehouse. Toohey said his election would bring a measure of balance to the Senate, where there are 35 Democrats and just four Republicans. O’Connor Ives said she’s best suited to succeed Baddour, a Democrat, as an effective advocate for the district.
Magliocchetti and Kelcourse agreed it’s time for the district to send an Independent to Beacon Hill to represent people instead of party.
“The system is broke when you have to be in a party to have a chance,” said Magliocchetti, adding he believes he can be an effective liaison between Republicans and Democrats in Boston.
Toohey and O’Connor Ives said they oppose recent efforts to allow communities to use civilian flagmen over police at traffic details. They said they believes motorists are safer with police on those jobs and that using civilians doesn’t save much money anyway.
Magliocchetti said isn’t opposed to flagmen, but wants the decision left to cities and towns. Kelcourse answered the question by saying he supports public safety workers and that he recently voted in favor of pay raise for Amesbury police and firefighters.
“But they have to realize their raises are paid for by taxes,” Kelcourse said of police and firefighters.
On how to spur tourism in the district, O’Connor Ives said she would focus on the Merrimack River, which runs through every community in the district — a response echoed by Kelcourse and Magliocchetti. Toohey said the region needs to do a better job marketing the great attractions already here.
Toohey was the only candidate who said he would like to see a casino in the district, as long as it is approved by the host community — a caveat that is already part of the casino law. The other candidates said they don’t believe there’s a suitable location for a casino in the district. O’Connor Ives said she believes any benefits from a casino in the district would be outweighed by negative impacts to traffic and public safety.
Should they win, the Republican and Independent candidates said Sen. Bruce Tarr, a Glouceter Republican, is the senator they would most look forward to working with. O’Connor Ives chose state Sen. Katharine Clark, a Wakefield Democrat.
The next First Essex Senate debate is Oct. 22 at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill.