With less than three months to go before the voters of Everett choose a state representative, one candidate is calling for forums or debates with the two other Democratic candidates so people can directly compare the contenders. Gerly Adrien is challenging incumbent state Rep. Joe McGonagle and former state Rep. Stat Smith to two or three debates. She noted in a letter to McGonagle that he was a no-show to two forums in their last contest for state representative in 2016.
“It is up to…us to develop a sensible solution to provide the citizens of Everett the chance they deserve to engage in the selection process of the next State Representative for our district,” Adrien wrote to the other candidates. “While our positions may differ, I am sure that we can agree that as candidates, we have an obligation to the voters to make time to discuss our specific plans and visions in public.”
Reached by The Everett Stimulus. Sunday, Smith says he has yet to see a letter from Adrien but as far as debates, he’s in. “I will debate either one of them anytime they want. I’ll do any and all debates. I’m good in debates,” he said.
However, Smith says debates or forums won’t sway any votes. “It won’t make a difference. There will be no changing of minds. Everyone already knows who they are voting for—85 or 90 percent, anyway. They knew a year ago.”
Smith added, “We’ve got three good candidates. I’ve been [in Everett] all my life—I know all the cops and all the robbers. Joe’s been here all his life and I think Gerly’s been here all her life, too.”
Smith is well-spoken, engaging and a former legislator. However, this is his first political contest since serving four months in prison for voter fraud in 2013. He was also prohibited from seeking political office for five years. That ban expired two months ago.
It is unclear whether McGonagle will accept the challenge to be transparent about where he stands on the issues. As the incumbent, McGonagle has little to gain by debating. His record as a legislator is sparse at best, choosing instead to latch on to the accomplishments of state Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett). Oratory skills are not McGonagle’s strength. In his match-up with Adrien back in the 2016 race, McGonagle turtled and failed to show up at two scheduled forums.
A message seeking comment was sent to City Councilor Anthony DiPierro, who is running McGonagle reelection effort, but was not immediately returned.
Regardless of where each candidate stands on the issues—jobs, education, public safety, equal opportunity, etc.— it can only benefit Everett voters to be as informed as possible.