The three Democrats vying to represent Arlington’s newly redrawn House district on Beacon Hill came together Thursday to introduce themselves to more than 100 voters in a candidates forum at the .
State rep candidates Margaret Hegarty, Bobby Reardon and Dave Rogers answered a number of questions from the audience, as well as made opening and closing remarks, at the event, which was sponsored by the Arlington Democratic Town Committee and moderated by state Sen. Ken Donnelly.
The three will square off at the Sept. 6 primary, with the winner going onto face Republican Tomi Olson and independent candidate Jim Gammill, both from Belmont, at the Nov. 6 election for now state Sen. Will Brownsberger’s former House seat. The seat, which represents the 24th Middlesex District, has expanded this election to cover Precincts 2, 4, 8, 10 and 12 in Arlington and still all of Belmont and a section of Cambridge.
Here’s a glimpse at how the candidates answered Thursday’s questions:
Opening/closing statements …
Rogers, a lawyer from North Cambridge, stressed his background in both government and business. He said he has campaigned the hardest of the candidates, knocking on 1,500 doors already, and he left the audience with this: “Even though we’re going through a tough time, we still have to make choices that will lead to a better tomorrow.”
“And I want to thank all of you for not asking me a question about the leaf blowers,” he also joked.
Reardon, a Belmont Town Meeting member and the youngest of the candidates, focused on his connection to the Belmont and Arlington communities. He said his mother is a former Arlington Town Meeting member, and he said his priorities are education, public transportation and the environment.
Hegarty, also a Belmont Town Meeting member, is a lawyer who has worked in public service. “I’ve proven myself as a servant to those most in need,” she said.
Hegarty said education, public transportation and sentencing reform are her key issues. She has worked as both a prosecutor and a public defender.
On a possible state revenue problem …
“I don’t believe we need to increase property taxes,” Hegarty said.
She said she would like to see a “slight increase” to the state income tax, but with low and middle income individuals and seniors protected.
“We should run the budget like you run your home,” Reardon said. “I don’t think we have a revenue problem necessarily.”
On implementing a state tax on online businesses …
“It’s unfortunate that any source of revenue is getting away from us,” said Hegarty, who supported closing the loophole that allows online-only businesses to be tax-exempt.
“We need to level the playing field,” Reardon said.
“It’s a complicated issue,” Rogers said. “Imposing new taxes is always delicate. I’d want to study the issue carefully.”
On casinos …
Rogers said, now that casinos are coming, legislators need to worry about their harmful effects, such as gambling addiction. “I would have voted against casinos,” he said. “We live in one of the most innovative states … and our best economic development plan was casinos, it’s unfathomable to me.”
“I believe gambling and casinos are a terrible way for our state to do business,” Hegarty said.
Reardon said he wouldn’t want them in the district or neighboring communities but didn’t appear to be as opposed to the idea in general as the other candidates.
On “three strikes” bill …
“I don’t believe the ‘three strikes’ law will make this a safer society,” Rogers said. “It’ll cost a lot of money and add to our overcrowded prisons. Sen. Brownsberger didn’t vote for it, and I wouldn’t have either.”
On public transportation …
Reardon said the MBTA needs to put expansion projects on hold and focus on preservation.
Hegarty said, “I’m mostly concerned about preserving those routes that we rely on.”
“[Public transportation] is one of the biggest issues the district faces and the state faces,” Rogers said.
On Citizens United …
All three candidates spoke out against Citizens United, with Rogers calling it “the worst Supreme Court decision of the last quarter century,” other than the Bush v. Gore decision.
The candidates also discussed education, specifically Chapter 70 funding, development in the Alewife area, global warming and affordable housing.