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Your Tewksbury Today

Sears-Miceli Debate Spotlights Personal Animosity, Similar Positions On Issues

Oct 24, 2014 12:33PM ● 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.)

If you were to simply read their positions on the major issues, it might be hard to tell the difference between State Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, and his Republican challenger, former Tewksbury Selectman Doug Sears.
But put them in the same room and it only takes about five minutes to see they are very different men and very different in their philosophy about the job of State Representative.
Such was the case Tuesday night, when the 19th Middlesex District candidates squared off in a debate at Tewksbury High School.
There were no major fireworks but the longstanding animosity between the men was clear to those in attendance, as the candidates traded jabs, both subtle and obvious.
Tewksbury Town Moderator Jerry Selissen, though not mentioned by name, got dragged into the debate, much as he had been during the 2012 campaign between Sears and Miceli.
Miceli brought up Tewksbury's $100 million-plus sewer project and asked Sears why he hasn't accepted responsibility for voting in favor of the project (which has been been blamed for skyrocketing sewer rates) during his tenure as a selectman.
Sears fired back that he had just been elected to the board that April and the prject was approved only a short time later.
"We all went to town meeting, including one selectman (Selissen) who was behind most of this and is now the town moderator," said Sears. "The Legislature could have helped us out ... but didn't."
Earlier in the debate, Sears outlined his view of the role of a state legislator, Sears said he would work on behalf of the town board but said he wouldn't interject himself into local elections, alluding to Miceli's endorsement of Selissen for Town Moderator over Sears earlier this year.
Miceli, who repeatedly said he stood by his record of serving his constituents, quickly challenged Sears on both points.
"(As a legislator) I work with the boards, not for the boards. I work for all the people of the district," said Miceli, adding that he would continue to be involved with local elections because it was his right to do so.
Asked by Sears about which legislation, of which he was the primary sponsor, he was most proud of, Miceli cited the bill that abolished county governments in Massachusetts and the bill that transferred land from the state to Tewksbury, at no charge, for construction of the new library.
Sears stated that if he were elected, he would serve a maximum of two terms before stepping aside for others to run.
"I believe in a citizen Legislature. I don't think the legislature should be considered a (career) as some do," he said, making a not-so-subtle dig at Miceli's 37 years as a representative.
The two candidates found common ground on several issues such as abortion (they are both pro-life), the state's new gun law (they both oppose it), Casino gambling (they both oppose it), the proposed expansion of the Bottle Bill (they both oppose it) and the new Common Core education standards (they both oppose them).
Both candidates also said they would have no trouble working with a governor from the opposing party without compromising their core values.
"I think this country was founded by people who stood their ground on principle," said Sears.
"In all my years in the Legislature, I've never, ever compromised my principles," said Miceli.
If you missed the debate, you can watch it in it's entirety by clicking on this link:

VIDEO: Sears vs. Miceli, 19th Middlesex District State Representative Debate


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