For any undecided voters left in the Democratic Third Middlesex State Senate Primary watching the final debate before Primary Day, one thing jumped out above all else: all the candidates share nearly identical views in varying ways.
Hosted by Carmen Christiano in the studios of Chelmsford Telemedia, the candidates shared similar views on nearly every question, varying slightly on what they would emphasize over their opponents.
“I’ve never hosted a debate where people didn’t have a lot to discuss and argue about, but that’s great,” said Christiano during the program.
The broadest difference of opinions between the candidates came in a question on the recently passed “Melissa’s Law,” which would provide mandatory minimum sentencing for offenders of certain vicious crimes.
While each of the candidates agreed that mandatory sentencing can harm judicial independence in many cases, opinions varied between whether they would have voted for the bill if they had been in the Senate earlier this year.
Mara Dolan of Concord and Alex Buck of Chelmsford opposed the bill, as well as any comparable mandatory minimum sentencing bill, with Buck wanting to have seen a “safety valve” in the bill to allow the views of judges to supercede mandatory minimum sentencing during instances where it would not help rehabilitate the convict.
“We need to give the judges the ability to promote justice, and when it comes to the justice system, I am more interested in maintaining justice than maintaining the system,” said Buck.
Joe Kearns Goodwin (Concord) and Joseph Mullin (Weston) agreed with Dolan and Buck on their opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing in general, but said they probably would have voted for the bill, despite their views that it wasn’t a perfect one.
Mike Barrett (Lexington) agreed with Goodwin and Mullin in the view that he would have voted for it even though it wasn’t perfect. However, he also urged reform in the prison system to reduce what he saw as wasteful spending by incarcerating non-violent offenders for $50,000 a year, joking that the state might as well send them to Harvard instead.
The quip built on the fact that all of the candidates except for Dolan attended Harvard.
Otherwise, all of the candidates said they would have supported the recent bottle bill as well as approving a graduated income tax in some form, working with party leadership to achieve demands set forth by constituents at home and looking to reinvest in areas such as education infrastructure.