Many of the local candidates on the ballot for this November attended last Thursday's Candidates Forum at the Norwood Town Hall, presented by the League of Women Voters of Norwood, Westwood and Walpole.
Both candidates for the positions of candidates for U.S. Congress representing the 9th Massachusetts District, Stephen Lynch (incumbent) and Joseph Selvaggi, were given three minutes each for an opening statement, two minutes each for a closing statement, and one minute each to answer questions, prepared by the League and submitted from the audience.
Lynch opened his address to the audience by saying that when he went to Congress he promised local citizens he would bring their concerns to Washington.
"I went to Congress to represent families like mine, families like yours," he said.
"I like to think of myself as a common sense Democrat," Lynch told the crowd.
Selvaggi introduced himself as the guy who started Plaster Fun Time, a plaster painting place where kids can create their own items. He said that for years he has been working with nothing but 5-years-olds, and joked that when it comes to working with Congress, "Who's better qualified than I?"
As a small business owner, Selvaggi said that he understands local business owners go through under this economy and what he called the "incredible" cost of healthcare.
When asked about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," both candidates said they disagreed with it. Selvaggi called it a "difficult program to justify," and Lynch said that he originally voted against it, having many issues with the way it doesn't introduce competition into healthcare.
Another hot topic Thursday night was taxes and the country's deficit. Selvaggi, Lynch noted, has signed the Grover Norquist pledge not to raise taxes. Lynch said that this would force his opponent to cut services in order to balance the budget.
One of Lynch's solutions was to phase out oil subsidies, something he has already voted in favor of. Selvaggi responded that even more subsidies could be phased out or stopped to help balance the budget.
The candidates were then asked if they would repeal the Bush Tax Cuts. Selvaggi said that in general, he believes tax cuts are a good thing, because citizens know how to handle their money better than the government. Lynch responded the the Bush cuts were not ideal because they "greatly favor" higher income individuals. His hope, Lynch said, would be to return to the tax base the country had under President Clinton when the economy was in better shape.
The forum also included foreign affairs questions, including asking the candidates for their thoughts on the situations in Syria and Iran, and what the U.S. position should be. On the civil war in Syria, Selvaggi said that he thinks everyone can agree who the bad guys are, but that he's not sure there is agreement on who the good guys are. He said that as soon as Americans step in, we would be considered the bad guys and that he is not eager to step into that situation.
"I would not commit a single American troop to that situation," Selvaggi said. "Period."
Lynch focused his response on the possibility of nuclear power in Iran, saying that he would certainly encourage keeping the sanctions strong and increasing them. He noted that the U.S. has had some success in getting other countries to work on this, and the pressure on Iran is getting tighter.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. For information on the candidates, ballot questions and where to vote in Norwood, check out the Norwood Patch Election Guide.