Thursday, December 29, 2005

2nd Worcester Special Election Debates

From MWCC Weekly Newsletter

There will be two debates held for the 2nd Worcester district special election. Both debates will be held at Mount Wachusett Community College. The first debate will be held on Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 5:30 PM. A second debate is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2, also at 5:30 p.m. (The special election on Feb. 7.) Both debates will take place in the commons area of MWCC’s main campus.

The first debate will feature opening and closing statements, questions posed by the moderator and a segment where each candidate can ask his opponents a question. The second debate also will include opening and closing statements, questions from a panel of Garner News journalists, Assistant Editor Andres Caamano and reporter Daniel Axelrod, and MWCC representatives, political science and history Professor Dr. Oliver Hooper and Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs Lea Ann Erickson, and a segment where each candidate can ask his opponents a question.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino will moderate both debates.

The public is encouraged to attend. Admission is free.

The 2nd Worcester District includes Ashby, Ashburnham, Gardner, Royalston and Winchendon.

Competing for the Democratic ticket are Michael Ellis, president of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, Mike McCallum, a member of Ashby’s Board of Selectmen, and Robert Rice, Gardner’s assistant city solicitor and partner in the law firm Ward, Walsh & Rice. Jonathan Dennehy, a member of the Ashburnham Board of Selectmen, is running on the Republican ticket. Independent Dennis Venuto, a self-employed contractor who fell several signatures shy of placement on the ballot, plans to run as a write-in candidate.

Should be an interesting evening. I don't live in this district, so I don't have a dog in this fight. To my knowledge McCallum is the most progressive of the bunch running. He has a very solid environmental background and has been able to coordinate state and local groups to renovate the Ashby library and preserve the Mt. Watatic recreation area without tax increases.

Ellis has former St. Rep. Brian Knuuttila (who previously held this seat before he retired in October) as his campaign manager which gives him an edge in the organizational department.

Rice has plenty of fancy campaign posters up, including one in Fitchburg(?!) and has received the endorsement of the increasing influential SEIU1199 so in my mind, that makes Rice the front runner in the upcoming primary.

At this time I don't have any information at all about Dennis Venuto, but with such a short election schedule it will be very difficult to get an effective campaign off the ground in time for the primary.