13th Worcester state rep debate; Economic, social issues.


Byline: Jacqueline Reis

WORCESTER - The three candidates for the 13th Worcester state representative seat met for their first debate this week, staking out ground on economic and social issues as part of Peter Blute's radio show on radio station WCRN-AM.

Republican Paul J. Franco, independent Ronal C. Madnick and Democrat John J. Mahoney each pledged to bring a different type of change to Beacon Hill, and they each claimed they could "stand up to power."

Mr. Mahoney, business development director for Advanced Cleaning and Restoration and owner of Mahoney's Pub on Park Avenue, said he would promote transparency in government and require legislation be online for 48 hours before politicians vote on it.

"I would be an independent mind, speak my own truth," Mr. Mahoney said. "I have already stood up to power. I have taken on an incumbent who I believe had lost the trust of the people," he said, referring to his 2008 sticker campaign against incumbent Robert P. Spellane, who is not running for re-election.

Mr. Madnick, a former teacher and current director of the Worcester County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, wasn't buying it. "I have sued judges who are now my friends," he said. "Take on power? You've gotta be kidding. Study my history."

Mr. Madnick was a Democrat until February, a switch that allowed him to skip a six-way primary. He said he would step down from the ACLU and be a full-time representative if elected, something he did not believe his opponents would do.

Mr. Franco, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and a personal injury lawyer, said he would help bring balance to a state government overwhelmed by Democrats. "Another Democrat in office just simply adds more power to the speaker (of the House)," he said. The last three speakers have been indicted.

While on active duty, Mr. Franco represented wounded soldiers seeking higher benefits and was successful in most cases, he said. "I will take that passion for the wounded warriors of our nation ... when I go to Beacon Hill," he said.

Mr. Blute asked how the candidates would vote on Question 3 on the ballot, which would cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, and only Mr. Franco supported the measure. Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Madnick said they would rather see the sales tax returned to 5 percent.

If the measure passes, the state would need about $2 billion to fill the gap, Mr. Blute said, asking the candidates how...

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