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Marblehead League of Women Voters Hosts Candidate Forum

What the Candidates Had to Say


The Marblehead League of Women Voters held a two-hour forum last evening at the Marblehead High School Library that was simulcast on MHTV. Chris Stevens of the Marblehead Reporter moderated the event, with candidates for the 8th Essex District State Representative seat given the opportunity to make an opening statement, answer questions that had been submitted prior to the forum, and make a final statement.


The six candidates for the seat formerly occupied by Representative Lori Ehrlich are: Jenny Armini, Diann Slavit Baylis, Tristan Smith, Terri Tauro, Polly Titcomb, and Doug Thompson. 


The forum questions included topics such as legislative improvements with respect to transparency, the environment (including the coastline specifically), future pandemics and public health, affordable housing, and public transportation. For the most part, the six Democrats agreed on key matters, with far more similarities than differences among them. At times, however, each candidate tried to draw distinctions. 


Matters on Which the Six Candidates Agree


•the need to clean up King’s Beach in Lynn, which is highly contaminated; 


*the importance of securing more affordable housing in the 8th Essex District;


*the imperative to focus on coastal resilience in light of climate change concerns;


*the need to add funds to the education system in the communities of the 8th Essex District;


*that public transportation must be electrified; and


•the need to pass the so-called Fair Share Amendment, a question on the November ballot that calls for an amendment to be made to the Massachusetts Constitution such that, in addition to the current state flat-tax rate of five percent, an additional four percent tax will be assessed on income above one million dollars, purportedly to fund education and transportation, but subject to legislative appropriation.




How the Candidates Attempted to Distinguish Themselves


*Jenny Armini noted that she is the only candidate to have spent time working on both Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill, and is the only candidate to have worked at Planned Parenthood. Armini is also the only candidate to suggest that, in addition to other renewables, the use of nuclear energy could be used to combat fossil fuels. 


*Tristan Smith noted that he was recently a teacher and coach; additionally, he directed part of an answer at one point to Lynn voters by speaking in Spanish.


*Tristan Smith and Terri Tauro spoke of making environmental transitions while keeping workers in mind and not crippling the economy.


*Diann Slavit Baylis noted that she is a full-time immigration attorney who does pro bono legal work for unaccompanied, undocumented minors, and is a surfer; she is the only candidate to have discussed gun violence; she also noted the need for oversight at “rest homes and nursing facilities”; she noted that she is likely the only candidate who takes the T to work every day.


*Doug Thompson and Polly Titcomb noted that they do not and will not take contributions from lobbyists.


*Polly Titcomb pointed out that she, as a child-welfare and family law attorney, is the only candidate among the six to have been in elected municipal office, having served on the Finance Committee, the Select Board, and Town Meeting in Swampscott. She also noted that she has had personal experience. 


*Terri Tauro noted that she grew up in public housing, and as the head of the Marblehead Municipal Employees Union is the only candidate who has blown the whistle on serious health and safety matters in Marblehead, such as asbestos in public buildings, as well as other town property issues. She also noted that she was recently endorsed by Incorruptible Mass, a group that fights special interests and opposes the Speaker of the House “dangling carrots,” and that two unions have endorsed her.


*Doug Thompson noted his expertise in healthcare as the Chief Financial Officer of Massachusetts Medicare as well as his experience as the Chief Executive Officer of a private healthcare company. 

Closer to election day–August 23rd at 7:00 PM–an in-person “Meet the Candidates” event will take place at the Jewish Community Center (that requires an RSVP). Marblehead Beacon will cover this event, and will continue to provide extensive coverage of the 8th Essex District State Representative race. For our recent in-depth examination of the candidates’ financials, click here. For our planned upcoming coverage, click here.


Editor's Note: In an earlier version we identified an endorsement incorrectly. It is in fact "Incorruptible Mass." 


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