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Sandlin, Boldyga, Bonavita have verbal tussle at debate

Date: 10/12/2010

Oct. 13, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor


AGAWAM -- A few fireworks were set off during the debate for the 3rd Hampden District at Roberta G. Doering School on Oct. 7.

Incumbent Rosemary Sandlin, Democrat, Southwick Selectman Nicholas Boldyga, Republican, and Agawam School Committee Vice Chair Attorney Anthony Bonavita, independent, exchanged quips and jabs before approximately 100 attendees.

Boldyga criticized Bonavita for running as an independent, while Bonavita cited Boldyga's limited political experience as a one-year selectman. Bonavita accused Sandlin of receiving funds from special interest groups, while Sandlin condemned Bonavita for posturing during the primary election by refusing to cast a ballot.

"I will caucus with which ever party benefits my district ... I ask people to look at my stance on the issues," Bonavita said.

"The irony is that Mr. Boldyga ran as an independent [against Sandlin] two years ago," Bonavita said following the debate.

Boldyga defended his limited political experience by citing seasoned legislators' inability to "get Massachusetts back on track," away from the $2.5 billion budget deficit.

Sandlin maintained she'd not received campaign endorsements from special interest groups but from hard working citizens of the region.

"I've not accepted money from special interest groups ... I will not be bought," Bonavita rebutted.

In response to Sandlin's accusatory remarks about his refusal to cast a vote in the primary election, Bonavita replied, "I felt that it was hypocritical of me to vote in a party primary as an independent candidate."

Sandlin countered, "The position you're running for requires you to make [these decisions] ... I find it hypocritical that you can't pull a ballot in a primary."

She added following the debate, "I work all the time with Republicans. We have to work with each other as representatives."

Bonavita said, if elected, he'd work to eliminate "wasteful spending," ensure funding for education, simplify health insurance in the state and decrease the cost of coverage, and support a reduction in the state's sales tax to 5 percent.

Boldyga told those at the debate that, if elected, he would cut taxes in order to bolster the economy and local aid; decrease the sales tax to 5 percent; bring attention to the district's infrastructure needs; and lobby for job creation.

Sandlin pledged to continue her work as a supporter of quality education, infrastructure repair, human services, and casinos to spawn job creation, as well as alimony, ethics and pension reforms.

"I know the struggles because I am a single mother with four children," she said. "I'm not a lock-step liberal throwing money at every problem. I'm a seasoned realist ... I live under the Rotary credo of 'service above self.'"

Boldyga said in closing that he'd "make decisions solely based on what's best for our communities."

"We need to do what's best for our communities and our state," he continued. "They're [Bonavita and Sandlin] career politicians with years on the government payroll. I'm the only candidate that proposes real reform without cutting services."

Bonavita said, "I'm fed up with the bickering. My vote cannot be bought in the Legislature."

He noted his independent viewpoints are free from Boston's political machine and his "proven record of getting things done."

Voters will have the opportunity to show their support for one of the three candidates on Election Day, Nov. 2.

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