Senate candidates question each other during North TV debate

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Republican candidate for State Senate Matt Kelly [far right] and State Sen. Becca Rausch prepare for a debate at North TV held on Oct. 6. Peter Gay [center] Executive Director of North TV, moderated the discussion. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

During a televised debate between State Sen. Becca Rausch and Republican challenger Matt Kelly, the two asked questions on improving Local Aid and decreasing COVID-19 transmission.

The debate between Rausch and Kelly was one of two aired live on North TV on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Executive Director Peter Gay moderated, and questions were submitted by Sun Chronicle columnists Bill Gouveia and Mike Kirby, as well as North Star Reporter Editor Max Bowen. Due to COVID-19 guidelines on gatherings, no spectators were allowed. Rasuch is running for re-election to a second term as state senator for the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex districts. Kelly has served as a Franklin Town Councilor for the past 12 years and is a business owner.

During the forum, the candidates were allowed to ask questions of one another. In the past, Rausch has supported increasing corporate taxes, and Kelly asked how this would help alleviate the state’s unemployment rate. Rausch responded that large businesses are doing well, and the money raised could help support local businesses. Kelly said that now was not the time to be talking about tax increases.

I will work with other leaders to boost job creation,” he said.

Rausch has been a longtime supporter of reproductive rights and asked Kelly if he would do likewise. He said that Roe v. Wade is the “law of the land” and it’s up to Massachusetts to lead the way in reproductive rights. Kelly then responded with asking Rausch about her support of people as young as 13 to seek abortions. Rausch said that sometimes, kids can’t go to their parents, and the state must provide access to safe and affordable healthcare.

There’s never been a more pressing time to ensure people can decide,” she said. “This should be free of judgment and punishment.”

Debating the issues

Kelly and Rausch took questions on subjects such as healthcare, COVID-19 responses, and business development. On the latter, Kelly said that he works with local businesses every day and will ensure that their voice is heard. Rausch said she has helped business owners to navigate the reopening rules and access relief funds. She is preparing a survey for owners to see how she can better support them during the winter.

People need to feel safe engaging these businesses as customers,” said Rausch.

When asked to grade Gov. Charlie Baker on his response to COVID-19, Rausch offered a ‘B minus,’ adding that government must listen to public health experts, especially as the numbers begin to increase. Kelly declined to offer a grade, given the unprecedented circumstances.

It’s up to the voters to grade him,” said Kelly.

Infrastructure and the many roads and bridges in need of repair was brought up, and Rausch said that in her first term she worked with local leaders to provide millions for these projects. As a member of the Franklin Town Council, Kelly said he’s overseen multiple infrastructure projects and that the needs lack funding.

During the debate, both candidates were asked who they support for president. Rausch has already voted for Biden via a mail-in ballot, saying he is the only candidate who takes climate change, universal healthcare, and the Coronavirus seriously. Kelly felt it was important to take national politics out of the discussion and keep the focus on local communities.

In their closing statements, Kelly said he has met with thousands of people in recent months and that their concerns brought him to this point. Rausch spoke of her track record in the Senate and how she has pushed for progress and delivered results.

I’ve been working tirelessly for you this term and will continue to do so,” she said.

The election will take place on Nov. 3. Mail-in and early voting are both available.