Candidate positions splinter at forum; 13th Senate race draws questions from community.


Byline: Lee Hammel

WORCESTER - There are some genuine differences among the three candidates for the open 13th Worcester District state representative seat, as about 120 people who attended a candidates forum last night at the Worcester Youth Center learned.

Ronal C. Madnick, the independent candidate, was the only one who said he supports allowing undocumented immigrants to attend state colleges at the in-state tuition rate. He said it is "ridiculous" not to allow that for people who have worked as hard in Massachusetts schools as their neighbors, and said he is a leader in the movement to do that.

Democrat John J. Mahoney was the only one who refused to commit to level-funding the state appropriation next summer for Youth Works, which would bring 650 youth jobs to the city. While he said he supports the program, he told the crowd of advocates that he hopes they appreciate his candor in withholding his decision until he sees the shape the budget is in for next summer.

Republican Paul J. Franco was the only one to agree work to increase requirements for media education within state testing frameworks. Mr. Franco said perhaps the money to pay for it will be available from National Public Radio, which he said is ripe for defunding.

Mr. Franco also was the only candidate not to jump at the suggestion that he co-sponsor legislation to require lenders to mediate with property owners before foreclosure and with existing renters and responsible occupants afterwards. Mr. Franco, a lawyer, said that arbitration, not mediation, is binding, but did not say whether he would favor that.

Mr. Franco also was the only candidate who said he favors all three statewide ballot questions: repeal of the alcohol sales tax; repeal of the law that makes it easier for developers to get permits in communities that do not have a minimum amount of affordable housing; and reduction of the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. Mr. Madnick and Mr. Mahoney said they are against all three.

Without naming Mr. Mahoney, Mr...

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