Valley Patriot, WCAP Debate for State Senate
By: Tom Duggan – August, 2012
Last month the Valley Patriot and 980WCAP held an on air radio debate between the two Andover candidates, Alex Vispoli and Paul Adams, who are vying for the Republican nomination for State Senate. The winner of the September 6th state primaries will face Democrat Barry Finegold on the November ballot.
Adams is a state representative and often the target of unfair media propaganda; he has been no stranger to controversy and conflict. He ran as a fiscal conservative and a Tea Party favorite two years ago, but quickly fell out of favor with some after he supported the 2012 state budget that increased taxes and spending. This year he said he learned his lesson and that his vote was a mistake. He was one of three votes in the House against the 2013 state budget. He has made being “a real conservative” the primary message of his campaign and has accused Vispoli of not being a “real conservative” because he once voted in a Democrat primary.
For his part, Alex Vispoli is a family man. He is married with four children. He owns property and is an elected member of the Board of Selectmen. He has taken Adams to task for some of his votes as well as his conduct while in office. Most at issue is what Vispoli says are ethical problems after Adams had to pay a fine to the state for illegal fundraising, while Adams says Vispoli is responsible for the 250 million dollar debt in the town of Andover.
“When you have a history of voting for Democrats, voting at Democrat Primaries, when a prevailing wind needs to be blowing through the local boards before we make a decision, particularly on spending (Union contract related issues), I think that’s cause for question. I think you question my opponents, you question my personal finances, but maybe you should spend some time explaining to the people what he has been doing to the taxpayers of Andover’s finances, instead,” Adams charged during the debate.
“Paul, anything I question has been public record; on the record.” Vispoli shot back.
“So, there is nothing that has been inference; it’s out there for the whole world to see. There is no question that I am asking, that isn’t already public. As far as my credentials, let’s just talk about the last several years in the state. I know you talked about this when you ran in 2010 as far as the state cuts were to cities and towns and how devastating it was. Certainly we felt it. Cities and towns had to make tough choices, absolutely. I think citizens from Andover’s perspective, we were able to maintain the services, not ever contemplate a 2 1/2 override and I’ve come out from the first time I took the Board of Selectmen in 2004, I was insistent that I would never support discussion of a budget override. In the midst of the worst economic climate in our lifetime, not only did we hold the line, we were able to maintain it and come back with a AAA Bond rating which has actually saved the tax payers over a million dollars recently in our latest long-term borrowing.”
“So, when you look at things as far as protecting the Andover tax payer, protecting all of the tax payers, I think it is critical at the local level that we know how to deliver services that are at the local level. That is where the money gets spent. Anytime the state comes in and offers a mandate that is unfunded, there is something that comes down and dictates to the town, it procreates havoc.”
“I am proud of the record we have in Andover. I mean, if you look at Andover property values, and I know your parents own a home in Andover, they sure can appreciate that. As far as keeping us in check with the other towns, [on] spending, we are right there. We have not presented that 2 1/2 override. If you look, we are one of the top 10% towns in the state and we are one of the few of that 10% that have never done a budget override.”
“I appreciate your explanation,” Adams said. “I think it’s long overdue. At the same time, we have debt to the tune of 250 million dollars that has gone unanswered by the board of selectmen.
Vispoli: The OPEB is what you are talking about. It’s a phenomenon in Andover. It’s post-employment benefits that cities and towns in Massachusetts (and across the country) have to pay for. It was an unforeseen scenario where people would get a job with local municipalities and get covered under the health insurance forever. Ours is 250 million. It went down recently and one of the reasons Andover got a AAA bond rating because we stared to put a program together to pay it down. Four years ago we created a trust fund that can’t be touched just to pay down OPEB. Town meeting actually accepted it.”
On Adams’ campaign finances, Adams said that it was a “disagreement” with the State’s Office of Campaign Finances. “The government shouldn’t be telling my family and me how to spend our money.” He dispute that the thousands he paid to the state was a “fine” and said that he believed the campaign money he accepted should be allowable.
“But that’s the law,” Vispoli shot back. “Whether we like the laws or not we have to obey the law. You broke the law; you had to pay a fine for it. You violated campaign finance regulations.”
Vispoli said that the fine issue will make it hard for Adams to defeat the incumbent Senator Berry Finegold. Adams says the people want a fiscal conservative and will vote for him on the issues.
Tom Duggan is publisher of Valley Patriot, Inc., a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass Citizens Alliance, a Police Survivor and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program from 10-noon on WCAP every Saturday. You can email him at email@example.com.
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