AP NEWS

Hay, Eubanks-Archbold Talk Issues at Forum in Fitchburg

October 12, 2018

Republican Elmer Archbold-Eubanks, left, participated in a Q&A with incumbent Democratic state Rep. Stephan Hay, right, on FATV's FLAP TV Thursday night. The Q&A was moderated by Kevin Cormier. PHOTO COURTESY OF FATV Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Stephan Hay and Republican challenger Elmer Eubanks-Archbold engaged in a largely mellow Q&A Thursday when they outlined takes on everything from immigration to guns and abortion.

The candidates largely followed partyline stances, but did stray in some areas during the 30-minute forum organized by Fitchburg-Leominster All Politics and filmed at the studio of Fitchburg Access Television.

Both candidates said they support maintaining a flat income tax, rather than moving to a system where the wealthy pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

Eubanks-Archbold said the so-called Fair Share amendment, which would add an additional tax to incomes over $1 million, will hurt the economy and cause millionaires to leave the state. Hay supported the amendment saying the money should be earmarked to provide additional funding for education.

The issue of abortion was put to the two candidates, when moderator Kevin Cormier posed a hypothetical in light of the recent confirmation of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking whether they would support protecting a woman’s right to abortion in the state if federal precedent is overturned.

Hay said he hoped the Legislature would protect a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

“It is not for me, you, the Legislature or anybody else to decide what a woman does with her body -- that is her choice and her choice only,” he said.

Eubanks-Archbold demurred, first saying he is personally not in favor of abortion but that a right to choose is the “law of the land” and should remain so.

Pressed by Cormier to consider his position should the right to get an abortion be left to the states, Eubanks-Archbold said, “I’ll probably have to consider my own beliefs and what the population wants as well, I don’t believe in it but I’m also not trying to push somebody else’s position, my beliefs on them.”

Asked which was more important, funding roads or schools, both candidates said schools, but agreed more money should be spent maintaining regional roads.

Eubanks-Archbold pulled out a pocket Constitution when asked whether he would support further gun control laws in Massachusetts. He read the Second Amendment, then said, “So if you go by that, I’d say we can’t infringe on our rights and we should not, so that would be my vote.”

The candidate said he would have joined state Sen. Dean Tran, who was the only senator who voted against the so-called “Red Flag” law, which allows for the removal of firearms from a person a judge deems an immediate threat to themselves or others, because the law doesn’t include a mandate to provide mental health care to those whose guns are taken away.

In contrast, Hay said he believes in the constitutional right to own firearms, but when it comes to gun control there are “certain instances where I think it’s appropriate and public safety overrides the second amendment with some of the types of guns.”

He said he listens to the Massachusetts Association of Police Chiefs when they endorse certain gun control measures, but seemed not to support a proposal to limit the number of guns a person could own.

On a follow up question from Cormier, Eubanks-Archbold seemed to wrestle with his party’s ideals, saying “maybe (access to mental health care) should be a right.”

“Sometimes as a Republican you feel like you want to have that freedom to make a decision,” he added. “But sometimes you got to look out for the people and we’re having a lot of mental issues, we’re having a lot of people commit suicide, and we should have more support for them.”

Hay said the state must ensure access to mental health care, and touted the work of former state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, whose advocacy for mental health services should be continued by the sitting delegation.

Eubanks-Archbold, a former CNA, said he does not support Ballot Question 1, which would limit the number of patients that could be assigned to a nurse. He said the nurse-patient ratio should be reduced, but the ballot question is a “prescriptive solution” that will result in the closure of hospitals, especially community hospitals.

Hay supports the measure because nurses “tell me that their patient levels make it so they cannot provide the appropriate services to their patients.” He said small hospitals will be adversely affected by the measure, but he hopes the Legislature will bring nurses and hospitals to the table to find “legislation that works for everybody.”

Eubanks-Archbold, an immigrant himself, said he does not support designating Massachusetts a “sanctuary state” by barring local police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

“If you tie the hands of police, that’s going to make it harder for them to take that criminal off the street,” he said.

Hay favored a community-based approach, saying the country is a nation of immigrants and must continue welcoming those who are seek refuge in the United States.

He does not want Massachusetts to be a “sanctuary state, I believe that should be up to every individual city and town,” adding that local law enforcement should not be forced to the jobs of immigration officers.

Finally, the candidates were asked about the proposed landswap of 85 acres of Leominster State Forest for an additional 175 acres of protected land in order to extend the life of the Fitchburg Municipal Landfill.

Hay said the bill was filed at the request of Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale and the Westminster Board of Selectmen. The bill did not make it to floor last session, but will be refiled next session, he said.

The landfill, Hay said, will close in 2026 if the proposed landswap does not occur. Extending the life of the landfill is necessary to keep communities from having to spend more money to ship trash farther away, though a long-term solution to waste disposal must be found, he said.

The bill, he clarified, does not mean the swap will occur, but rather send the matter to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“All this legislation does is start the process so there’s a possibility of it occurring,” he said.

Eubanks-Archbold agreed there needs to be a long-term solution to trash disposal, and said regional cities and towns that use the landfill must be part of the planning process.

The election is Nov. 6.

AP RADIO
Update hourly