Local candidates show how to behave like adults in a debate

Oct. 22, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

Last week I had the pleasure of moderating a debate between the two candidates for the 7th Hampden District state representative seat.

The 7th Hampden District is the district for Ludlow, Indian Orchard, the Burnett Road section of Chicopee and part of Belchertown.

This is an important race as the seat has not been open for the last 34 years and was occupied by state Rep. Thomas Petrolati. Open races allow for new voices to be heard and for voters to choose candidates who, perhaps, can bring fresh perspectives to the position.

I use the word “pleasure,” because both candidates not only behaved themselves but also expressed both friendliness and respect for one another.

Jake Oliveria and Chip Harrington have served together on the Ludlow School Committee for years and it showed. They know each other’s families and appeared to be genuine colleagues.

This is not to say they didn’t discuss their differences in political philosophy  – they did – but it is to say the two men didn’t engage, with the exception of about 20 seconds of the half hour, of talking over each other.

In this day and age, the idea that two candidates can actually speak about issues instead of hurling talking points or insults at one another is refreshing.

Of course, the fact I describe this behavior as “refreshing” is actually sad. It should be the norm and not the exception.

We’ve seen local elections recently in which the candidates stuck to issues, rather than attack one another and we’ve seen the opposite.

One question I asked both men is that despite their party differences can they work in a bipartisan fashion if sent to the Legislative. Both had a quick an enthusiastic “yes” to that query. They said they had done that many times in their public service and that is their style.

As the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 has become heads into its final months, I was heartened by this half-hour of conversation these two people had. If only every debate from the state rep level to the presidency could have this kind of decorum. While some people actually enjoy the chaos we’ve seen in some debates, I don’t. Nothing gets accomplished in terms of speaking about issues and records when candidates put the emphasis on theatrics.
Trying to do our part

Earlier this year I did a story about the products my wife and I have tried to attempt to reduce the plastic in our lives and our contributions to the trash stream. If you missed it you can read it for free at https://www.thereminder.com/features/page2feature/alternatives-to-reduce-your-waste-stream.

Since that time we’ve tried other products you might find interesting.

First, I’m happy to say I’ve found toilet paper made from bamboo in area supermarkets at competitive prices. That is a plus, as it is one less item I have to seek out online.

The product is unbleached so that is one more step in its production that has been eliminated.  I’m hoping some American companies start production, as bamboo will certainly grow here. This would provide a potential for new jobs.

I’m also happy to note that after two years of use, our composting bag we bought at A.W. Brown’s in East Longmeadow has provided an effective way to take our food waste out of the trash stream and repurpose it.

This porous cloth bag allows water and air to help convert vegetable waste into useful fertilizer.  You turn it with a shovel or fork. It cost us only $40.

We have also purchased something that sounds a little odd but its works. I saw an ad for reusable plastic lids for Mason jars. They can turn a jar into a spray bottle, a water bottle, a pump bottle and dispensers for various dry or wet products.

Everyone has Mason jars – well perhaps almost everyone one – and these add new life to the jars.

The lids just screw on and are washable. What’s even better is they are made in this country. You can get more information at https://masonjars.com.

All of us can take steps to address our threatening issues with trash disposal and trying to clean up the planet.

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