NEWBURYPORT — Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, is keeping quiet on which presidential candidate in Tuesday's primary is earning his vote, but he said he's looking forward to a presidential race that discusses the issues.
In an interview with Daily News staff yesterday during a visit to the cities and towns in his district, Tierney discussed a range of topics from the presidential primary to President George Bush's plan to give citizens a tax rebate to bringing a mass notification system to Amesbury.
Tierney said he won't endorse any of the Democratic candidates for president until after the primary.
The increase in young voters — ages 18 to 24 — will "bode well" for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Tierney said.
With serious-minded candidates in the presidential race, the conversation can turn to intelligent debate, Tierney said. That conversation should be about moving the country forward — such as how to create jobs, education, job training and health care, Tierney said.
Tierney also turned his conversation to an incident last summer when a warning siren for Seabrook Station falsely sounded in Amesbury, causing panic and concern, Tierney became involved in the debate that came in the aftermath.
He urged the nuclear power plant to have a discussion with state and town officials on how to keep the situation from happening again, such as with the purchase of a mass notification system, like Reverse 911.
He said yesterday "serious discussions" between all sides are continuing and he expects it will be resolved soon.
"I think the attention is there now," Tierney said.
Juliette Kayyem, state undersecretary of homeland security, is communicating with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the power plant, Tierney said.
If a solution isn't reached by all the parties involved, the congressman said he would schedule another meeting.
Tierney said he would have liked to have seen the situation resolved earlier but that all sides are "serious-minded" and any roadblocks that were in place have been taken down. The final details — such as how the messages are conveyed and who will regulate them — will be worked out at the local level.
After the siren scare, Amesbury officials called on Seabrook Station to pay the $20,000 cost of a Reverse 911 system for all towns and cities that are near the plant, which would allow the communities to call all homes at once and issue emergency information.
Of Bush's economic stimulus program, Tierney said his ideal plan would have included more facets, such as food stamps. The tax rebate program, which will give $600 for each adult and $300 for each child, should not include any incentives for the upper class. As it stands, the Senate is considering extending the tax break to the wealthiest Americans.
"Bill Gates doesn't need to line up for one," he said.
Bush's plan calls for partial rebates for individuals who make $75,000 or more a year or couples who make a combined $150,000 a year. The plan has been passed by the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate.
While the rebates will be useful, it shouldn't be the end of the conversation, Tierney said.