hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

June 7, 2012

Editorial: Haverhill voters have choices to make this fall

We have nothing against state Rep. Brian Dempsey.

In fact, we think he's done a great job for the city, especially since he was elevated to the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee. You can be sure Haverhill's concerns are heard at the highest levels of state government.

Still, we wish the Haverhill Democrat had an opponent in the fall's election. We think it's healthy for the system when even good legislators face challengers at the ballot box. It keeps them on their toes and allows the public to raise issues that are unlikely to get an airing when there is no contest.

The deadline for submitting nomination signatures to the Secretary of State's Office has come and gone so Dempsey will go unchallenged, barring an almost certainly futile write-in campaign.

The good news for Haverhill voters is that they will have choices in all of the city's other legislative districts.

In fact, one of this year's hottest Statehouse races will be for the 1st Essex Senate seat vacated by Methuen Democrat Steven Baddour. The state Senate district runs through Haverhill from Methuen to Salisbury.

Democrats in the race are William Manzi, the former mayor of Methuen; Kathleen O'Connor Ives, a Newburyport city councilor; and Timothy Coco, a Haverhill business man. Republicans running are Shaun Toohey, a member of the Haverhill School Committee, and Sam Meas, a Haverhill resident and former candidate for Congress. Running as independents are James Kelcourse, an Amesbury city councilor, and Paul Magliocchetti, a member of the Haverhill School Committee.

Democratic and Republican primaries on Sept. 6 will choose the two parties' nominees, who will then face the independents in the general election on Nov. 6.

There are also contests in the two House districts that include Haverhill.

In the 2nd Essex District, West Newbury Democrat Harriett L. Stanley is retiring after 18 years. In the race to succeed her are Democrat Barry Fogel of West Newbury and Republicans Robert H. Cronin of Boxford, Gary Charles Fowler of Georgetown and Lenny Mirra of West Newbury.

There is also a race in the 18th Essex District, where former state representative Barbara L'Italien, an Andover Democrat, is attempting to reclaim the seat she lost two years ago from freshman Republican Rep. James Lyons Jr. of Andover.

We're hoping for intense campaigning and vigorous debate on the issues affecting constituents in Haverhill and other communities in the three legislative districts where there will be contests.

Then it will be up to the voters to do their job: Learn all they can about the candidates, make a decision and get to the polls Sept. 6 and Nov. 6.