Finegold, Armano Field Debate Questions in Quest for Senate
DRACUT -- Andover attorney and former state Sen. Barry Finegold and Mike Armano, a Lawrence firefighter and first-time candidate, touched on several issues Tuesday during a debate hosted by Your Dracut Today. Both men are seeking the 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate seat to succeed Sen. Barbara L’Italien.
Bill Gilman, editor of Your Dracut Today, served as moderator for the debate held at the American Legion Post 315 -- the second of two debates. Gilman said there seems to be a “battle” for the identity of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts. He asked both Finegold and Armano what it means to be a Democrat.
“Some people can say there are positions I have that are progressive, that are moderate,” Finegold said. “I’m not interested in labels, but what I am interested in doing is doing what’s right: fighting hard for communities like Dracut, fighting to increase money for education, for circuit breaker reimbursement.”
Armano, a Dracut resident who works as a lieutenant of fire prevention for the Lawrence Fire Department, said his family has a long tradition of public service dating back to his great grandfather, who was a union president for mill workers. “Throughout that history, my family’s always preached Democratic values and I think the Democrats are about people more than anything, and community,” Armano said. “When I think Democrat, I think of labor and hard-working people. I think of vulnerable populations.”
The 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate District includes Lawrence, Dracut, Andover, and Tewksbury. Finegold has previously said he is seeking this state Senate seat from a sense of service and helping people. Armano has said he didn’t want to leave the seat in the hands of just anybody and “wanted to do something bigger.”
Gilman asked the candidates how they feel about safe injection sites as a tool of combating the region’s opioid epidemic, and what they feel needs to be done in the overall battle.
Armano said that, as a firefighter, he’s seen this crisis firsthand in the city of Lawrence, as a resident of Dracut, and in going through the streets of Tewksbury and Andover.
“Is having safe needle injections the right solution, or is that a possibility? Yeah, it’s a possibility, but it’s going to take much more than that,” Armano said. “It’s going to take breaking a very vicious cycle of addiction and, in some cases, incarceration. It’s going to take educating people.”
Finegold said he agreed with a lot of what Armano said and added that he feels there’s too much overprescribing of pharmaceuticals. He expressed concern of children in the community who have injuries and are then prescribed opioids and become addicted to them. “This is in Andover. This is in Tewksbury. This is in Dracut. This is in Lawrence,” Finegold said. “This epidemic is blind to social economics.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.