Winthrop Senate debate shows differences, similarities in candidates

By John Lynds

Political Analysis

The series of debates held in the district last week between the two senatorial candidates running for Senator Robert Travaglini’s vacated seat proved one thing-one decisive issue doesn’t separate the candidates, and in the final analysis, voters will most likely choose the candidate they think has the most experience and can get the job done for the district on Beacon Hill.
All in all, Representative Anthony Petruccelli and Revere City Councilor Dan Rizzo held their own during debates held in Revere, Winthrop, Beacon Hill and Cambridge.
At the last and final debate in Winthrop, the two candidates agreed more should be done to help small business, reduce the impacts of Logan Airport on the surrounding communities, and more resources are needed to improve the state’s metropolitan beaches.
Petruccelli did a good job showing he has a proven track record on the issues and has the ability to get things done on Beacon Hill.
Petruccelli pointed to his work as chairman of the state’s Committee on Small Business and his recent legislation that secured $1.5 million in technical assistance grants for businesses with 20 or fewer employees.
Petruccelli also showed that he was instrumental, as chair of the state’s Metropolitan Beach Commission, in securing $2 million for the Department of Conservation and Recreation to be used specifically for new equipment and manpower at the state’s metropolitan beaches.
Petruccelli’s work on the Logan Airport Air Quality Initiative – a study aimed at capping emissions at Logan, cuts emissions back to 1999 levels and will gradually decrease the emissions every year to a healthier level – also came into play.
Rizzo, lacking a state record on the issues, showed himself to be the city councilor down in the trenches with the public while painting Petruccelli as the consummate Beacon Hill insider who has lost touch with his constituents.
For example, Rizzo said he has complained to state officials for years about the condition of Revere Beach, but those complaints had fallen on deaf ears. Rizzo said while Petruccelli’s work for the past two years on the beach commission was a good thing, the poor condition of some beaches isn’t a recent problem and is something that was ignored for many years by the legislature and Department of Conservation of Recreation (DCR).
Rizzo added construction of Runway 14/32 and recent approval of the centerfield taxiway at Logan Airport occurred on Petruccelli’s watch, and he claimed Petruccelli and colleagues had been unsuccessful in stopping Logan’s expansion.
On the beach issues, Petruccelli shot back and questioned Rizzo’s commitment to improving Revere Beach. Petruccelli said during beach commission hearings held in Revere, Rizzo was never expressive in his displeasure with the state’s handling of the beach.
Petruccelli also defended his work against Logan expansion, and while major projects have been approved at the airport, he has been successful in mitigating the impacts the projects have had on surrounding communities.
In the end, both candidates succeeded in getting their individual messages out to voters. With both candidates having solid support from their respective bases in East Boston and Revere, the election will most likely be decided by voters in Winthrop, the North End and Cambridge.
It will be those voters the two candidates will try to convince before Tuesday, May 29.

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