Beacon Hill hopefuls trade barbs at Berkshire Community College debate ahead of Democratic primary
Photo Gallery | Debates for State Representative and State Senate at BCC
PITTSFIELD — Michael Bloomberg finds Tricia Farley-Bouvier ineffective on Beacon Hill, while the incumbent state representative feels her challenger might be better suited for a seat on the Pittsfield City Council, not in the state Legislature.
The two Democratic hopefuls in next week's primary exchanged several barbs Monday night over who would best serve the 3rd Berkshire District — nearly all of Pittsfield — for the next two years.
The candidates vying to face an independent candidate, and current Ward 4 Pittsfield Councilor Christopher Connell in the Nov. 8 general election squared off i the first of two political debates on the Berkshire Community College campus.
Later in the evening, the three people vying for the Democratic nod in the 1st Berkshire District Senate seat: Rinaldo Del Gallo and Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Andrea Harrington from West Stockbridge took part in another 60-minute question and answer session. The victor goes head-to-head against Lanesborough Republican Christine Canning in November, the winner succeeding Benjamin Downing who opted against another re-election bid.
Bloomberg took Farley-Bouvier to task on her inability to get a single bill passed she spearheaded.
"Many bills have co-sponsors, but the lead sponsor writes the bills; as lead sponsor none of your bills passed," he said.
Farley-Bouvier fired back to explain it's all about collaboration in the Statehouse, not who has the best batting average.
"He's used this 0 for 25 over and over, he doesn't understand the process," she said. "I have been part of a team to get legislation passed."
The five-year veteran state representative cited her 30 years of experience in the public and private sector helping the city grow such as being a Pittsfield city councilor and director of administration for former Mayor James Ruberto.
Farley-Bouvier is glad her opponent has returned and wants to improve his hometown, but he should start at the local level, such as running for a ward council seat.
"State representative is not an entry level position," she noted.
Bloomberg countered with his financial experience gained working in New York City and elsewhere in the country as the kind of resume Pittsfield needs for its next state representative.
The Pittsfield native says he understands the issues.
"This city hasn't seen private economic growth in 30 years," he said.
Both candidates agree Massachusetts has a revenue problem, not a spending problem, but Bloomberg says new taxes won't solve that problem.
"How can we spend state tax dollars to create economic growth," he said.
Farley-Bouvier deemed the current state budget a responsible one that could see improvement on the revenue side.
"We had a rough spring with revenue down, but things have started to look up," she said.
The pair of Democrats differed on the Massachusetts Turnpike switching to a E-Z Pass system only for motorist paying the tolls on the 125-mile stretch of Interstate 90.
Bloomberg worries about the jobs lost as the state invests very little money in job retraining. Farley-Bouvier says the elimination of toll booths in favor of overhead transponder readers will reduce highway congestion and be a time-saver for motorists.
On a crucial local issue, Bloomberg stands by his earlier statement denouncing the latest Wal Mart Supercenter plan for the William Stanley Business Park claiming it won't help revitalize the Tyler Street area.
Farley-Bouvier refused to pass judgement on the project until it is formally presented to city officials and properly aired out in public meetings.
Charter schools, recreational marijuana and a proposed mileage tax highlighted some of the issues the three Democratic senatorial candidates debated.
Hinds and Harrington oppose Question 2 to lift the cap on charter schools, claiming they are a financial drain on public education
"Charter schools take too much money from public school and they lack accountability," Harrington said.
Del Gallo criticize his opponents for failing to say they would support the wishes of voters if they approve Question 2.
As for the ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana use, Del Gallo supports the measure saying using police resources to arrest pot users is a waste of money.
Hinds is more concerned about the medical impacts of recreational use by young people.
"We've seen the brain doesn't stop developing until at 24 or 25 years of age," he said. "[The law] would need to have protections in place."
Approval of recreational pot use would follow the voters mandate of four years ago backing medical marijuana use, something the state has been slow to implement, according to Harrington.
All three did agree taxing the number of miles people drive as an alternative to a gasoline tax would hurt Western Massachusetts drivers. The so-called Mileage Tax is consider a better way to raise more money to repair bridges and roads.
Del Gallo disagreed, saying "I hate flat taxes on everyone because they affect the poor."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233
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