WORCESTER – Six of the eight candidates campaigning for District City Council seats this election met at Mechanics Hall on Thursday night in the second of four candidate forums sponsored by the Worcester Research Bureau.
District 1 Candidate Ed Moynihan, District 3 candidates Davis Asare and incumbent George Russell, District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera and District 5 candidates Paul Franco and Matt Wally participated in the forum.
District 1 candidate Sean Rose was not in attendance due to a previous commitment. District 4 candidate Coreen Gaffney announced earlier this week that she was dropping out of the race.
The forum was moderated by Chantel Bethea President and CEO of Women In Action, Inc., Colleen Wamback, Public Relations Manager at WPI and Ron Cino Worcester Academy Head of School.
Each candidate discussed the need for improvement while touting the successes that the city has seen the past few years. The two incumbents — Rivera and Russell — lauded their experience and the work they have done on the council, especially their roles on the city’s Economic Development Sub-Committee.
“Real proof is rolling up your sleeves and getting work done,” Rivera said in her opening statements.
Asare wants to bring change to District 3 by helping young families, providing jobs and helping small business. He said his opponent, Russell, has been at City Hall too long. He compared himself to longtime District 3 City Councilor Paul Clancy Jr.
The comparison prompted Russell to reply, “I know Paul Clancy, He’s my friend. He’s endorsed me. You’re no Paul Clancy.”
Moynihan, who has been campaigning on bringing in more small businesses into the city, stated that Worcester is a great place to raise a family because it has a great sense of community.
“Worcester is the best city in the world,” Moynihan said.
The hotly contested District 5 race saw both candidates spar over the rate. Franco, a proponent of the lowest residential task rate stated many times that Wally was in favor of a single tax rate and would raise homeowners taxes.
“Don’t put the burden on the residents, immigrants and new home buyers,” Franco said.
Wally responded by stating that his opponent was misrepresenting his stance on taxes. He said that helping small businesses on taxes would increase the tax base and lessen the burden on the homeowners.
“My opponent’s plan is penny wise and pound foolish. Mine is sound and stable,” Wally told the crowd of approximately 100 attendees.
The tax question was opened up to all the candidates. Although none of them committed to either the dual or single tax rate, they all agreed that there needs to be middle ground on the topic.
“[The tax rate] is never black and white. It needs to be looked at yearly and systemically,” Rivera said
When it came to the school budget all the candidates agreed that funding continues to be an issues.
“My son was able to get a free lunch everyday, but there was not enough money for books,” Franco said.
“Good schools create great neighborhoods” Rivera added.
The next forum will be Monday October 23 when Mayoral Candidates Joseph M. Petty and Konstantina M Lukes square off