Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 20, 2012

26th Middlesex State Representative debate

Filed under: 2012 election,elections — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 6:21 pm

Sept 20 – Recently, one or both challengers in the 26th Middlesex State Representative race proposed the idea of a series of five debates between now and the November election. To this, State Representative Tim Toomey offers the following very interesting proposal:

Dear Mr. Vasconcelos and Mr. Connolly,

Thank you for reaching out and proposing a series of debates. With the election just 48 days away, I think it is important that as many of our neighbors as possible can watch our debate.

To maximize the number of residents who can see the debate, and rather than trying to squeeze five debates into fewer than seven weeks, I propose a single, open-ended, unmoderated, televised debate with no time limits. In the past, I have partaken in many debates and, invariably, when the debates have ended there are always important issues left by the wayside. What I’m suggesting is, as far as I know, unprecedented in politics. Let’s go in front of the cameras and discuss all the issues until there is nothing left to talk about.

I am confident that Somerville Community Access Television and or Cambridge Community Television would be willing to air and rerun our debate, and I’m also willing to stream the debate live on my campaign website. With no moderator, we will have the opportunity to speak directly with one another and to ask tough questions about issues facing our district. With a televised audience and replays online, we’ll help as many of our neighbors as possible to get informed and decide for themselves.

I welcome any suggestions you might have about the format of our debate, and I look forward to your response.

Best wishes,
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.
State Representative, 26th Middlesex District


  1. A very interesting idea. and a good way to get exposure to the three candidates. But only if CCTV and perhaps other agree to cover it; CCTV streams programs so people can watch it later. Perhaps an editor can highlight some clips since if it goes on for long it is unlikely for many people to watch it.

    I do think there should be a moderator because sometime moderation is needed to make sure that each participants get a fair chance as speaking and responding. For example, in a boxing match the ref has to occasionally intercede but most of the time the battle goes on on its own.

    Comment by John Gintell — September 21, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  2. The Toomey campaign sent us the following Press Release:


    SOMERVILLE – At 7 PM on October 16th the three candidates vying for State Representative of the 26th Middlesex district participated in a live-broadcast debate in front of a studio audience at Somerville Community Access Television.

    According to the Cambridge Day, “[The] state rep debate had zingers, rants, attacks and substance, as well.”

    As is sometimes the case when tensions are high, there were some unsubstantiated remarks made by candidates during the course of the debate.

    Connolly’s Craigie Attack Shown To Have Questionable Footing

    During the third segment of the debate, unenrolled candidate Mike Connolly referred to a 2010 episode in which Representative Tim Toomey allegedly failed to communicate to the City of Somerville that there would be construction work done on the Craigie Drawbridge, which carries the McGrath O’Brien Highway from Land Boulevard in Cambridge to Leverett Circle in Boston.

    “The truth of the matter,” said Representative Toomey, “is that as soon as I got word from the Department of Transportation that work had to be done on the Craigie Drawbridge, I contacted the City of Somerville and also organized several meetings to inform the public of any inconveniences the construction might cause. In those meetings, Cambridge and Somerville residents had the ability to hear from and consult with the Cambridge City Councilors, the Somerville Board of Aldermen, the Cambridge and Somerville state delegation, and representatives from MassDOT. The charge that Somerville was not notified of the construction is patently untrue,” said Toomey. “Mr. Connolly appears to be grasping at straws in his attempts to substantiate personal attacks on me,” he added..

    “Tim took the lead in organizing a public meeting and making sure that the City of Somerville was prepared for any potential problems resulting from the bridge closure,” said Somerville Ward 1 Alderman Bill Roche. “Anyone who thinks that Tim Toomey wasn’t an advocate for East Somerville on the Craigie Drawbridge issue or any other issue just doesn’t have their facts straight.”

    Somerville Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston also commented on the matter. “Tim Toomey did his due diligence in contacting the city well before the bridge closed to inform us about the restoration project,” said Heuston.

    An October 4th, 2010 blog post from “Tim Toomey’s Community Blog” indeed mentions that Toomey’s office organized a meeting to inform Somerville’s residents of the bridge construction.

    According to the post, Toomey’s office “set up a third public information meeting about this project so that residents of East Somerville, and anyone else who may wish to attend, may be able to learn about the impact the bridge replacement will have for them.”

    Toomey’s EBT Card Vote Did Not Allow Purchase of Jewelry, Despite Vasconcelos’s Claims

    Toward the end of the debate, Republican Thomas Vasconcelos criticized Toomey for what he said was a vote Toomey cast to allow welfare recipients to spend their benefits to buy items like jewelry. The vote Vasconcelos is referring to occurred in April of this year, when Toomey introduced an amendment that would have clarified a part of the state budget that could have possibly prevented welfare recipients from buying shampoo, toothpaste, and paying their rent with their benefits.

    “I was afraid of the kinds of unintended consequences that could have arisen out of such a strong crackdown on the benefits that many low-income people rely on for the bare essentials,” said Toomey. “I introduced an amendment that guaranteed that essential items like toiletries would remain legal to purchase. When a further amendment was introduced that weakened the protections I was fighting for, I joined many of my colleagues in voting against that amendment. That vote did not change the part of the bill that outlawed abuses like gambling or buying jewelry with EBT cards.”

    Toomey added that he has been strongly in favor of cracking down on benefit fraud, but feels that it has to be done in the right way. “I introduced a bill that targets shop owners who exploit benefit recipients by purchasing their food stamps for cash and then reselling them at a profit,” Toomey said. “These are the kinds of abuses that do the most harm and the ones that we should be targeting first.”

    Connolly Dodges Question on Employer

    During the second half of the debate, Toomey challenged Connolly on his decision to work for Autonomy Corporation, a software company that reportedly develops and sells eavesdropping software to spy agencies, and whose client list includes multi-national corporations like BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

    “I think this is an important question that the voters should be asking,” Toomey said. “Mr. Connolly has said it himself, you can’t check your morals at the door when you go to work in the morning. I want to know if Mr. Connolly is truly comfortable accepting a paycheck from a company that engages in practices that I think he would find objectionable, and whether the voters think that it’s ok for him to turn around and spend that money on the signs and flyers he’s putting up in our neighborhoods.”

    “It wouldn’t be much of an issue to me,” Toomey continued, “if Mike were open and transparent about how much money he has at his disposal, where it’s coming from, and what kind of taxes he’s paying on it. When someone is financing a campaign solely out of their own pocket, though, these are indeed important questions. Unfortunately, Mike has repeatedly denied the public an answer by refusing to release his tax returns. I don’t think that’s right.”

    Comment by Robert Winters — October 19, 2012 @ 9:10 am

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