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Vispoli, L'Italien Spotlight Differences In (Mostly) Cordial State Senate Debate

Oct 22, 2014 03:06PM ● By Bill Gilman
(Editor's note: Your Tewksbury Today's coverage of Campaign 2014 is sponsored by Jon Ryan's Pub's, Where Fresh is the Standard, with locations in Tewksbury and Billerica.)

While the tone was mostly cordial, State Senate candidates Barbara L'Italien and Alex Vispoli were pointed in articulating their differences in a debate Tuesday night at Tewksbury High School.
Vispoli, the Republican nominee, said he supported the concept of term limits and vowed to only serve "a few terms" if he were elected.
"I'm going up (to Beacon Hill) to do a job, not to get a job," he said.
L'Italien, who previously served eight years as a Democratic state representative, said she opposed term limits, saying she believed the voters could make the determination whether someone should continue serving, at the ballot box. She also accused Vispoli, an Andover selectman, of hypocrisy on the issue.
"I think it's interesting that (Vispoli) says he supports term limits when he has served 11 years on the Board of Selectmen," she said. "Apparently he supports term limits for the state but not locally."
L'Italien, presently a member of the Andover School Committee, and Vispoli are vying for the 2nd Middelsec Essex seat currently held by state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover. Finegold chose not to seek re-election in order to run for State Treasurer.
The debate was sponsored by Your Tewksbury Today, The Lowell Sun and the Tewksbury Town Crier. 
Vispoli touted his private sector business experience and said government needs to ease restrictions and regulations that stunt economic growth.
"(I believe in) looking for ways to grow the economy by setting the table for a pro-business economy," he said.
L'Italien said her previous experience on Beacon Hill would help her hit the ground running as a senator and she said she would have no trouble working with Republican Charlie Baker if he wins the race for governor.
"As a state representative, I worked with Mitt Romney ... and Sen. Bruce Tarr," she said. "You have to be able to reach across the aisle and work with everyone. The work that's done in the State House has to be bi-partisan."
L'Italien was asked about her dispute with the State Department of Revenue over disallowed deductions, more than $7,000 owed in back taxes and a tax lien put on her home. She re-iterated that the issue is still on appeal but that the taxes have now been paid. She also stated that first she knew of the issue was when she was contacted by a reporter last month. She said she only received official notification about the lien on Oct. 4 and that the money was paid the next day.
Vispoli criticized her decision to loan her campaign $13,000 while the issue with the DOR had yet to be resolved.
"It's a matter of (poor) judgement," he said.
Vispoli also criticized his opponent for collecting more than $19,000 in "per diem" payments from the state during her time in the legislature. He said he would not accept these payments for work-related driving expenses  and asked if she intended to accept per diems if she were elected.
L'Italien made no apologies for accepting per diems and said her previous legislative district included six towns and that it took as long as 40 minutes to drive from one end to the other. She said if per diems are offered she will accept them again as a senator.
If you missed the debate, you can watch it in its entrety by clicking this link:
VIDEO: Vispoli vs. L'Italien, 2nd Middlesex- Essex State Senate Debate


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