(Photo Courtesy of Lowell Sun)
The third congressional district debate visit UMass Lowell.
Michael Van Arnam
With midterms approaching this November, residents of Massachusetts’ 3rd congressional district prepare to elect their representative. A general election debate occurred between Democrat Lori Trahan, the incumbent, and Republican opponent Dean Tran in Moloney Hall on Friday evening. Moderating the debate was professor John Cluverius, the associate director of the center for public opinion at UMass Lowell. The candidates answered questions posed by a student panel with some questions presented from Cluverius himself.
Trahan is a Lowell native.
“I grew up right down the road, and with a family that lived paycheck to paycheck,” she said in her opening statement.
Other points brought up in Trahan’s opening statement included the importance of supporting small businesses, improving infrastructure in the area, lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs and cleaning the Merrimack River.
Tran served six terms on the Fitchburg City Council as the first minority elected in the city and also went on to serve two terms in the Massachusetts’ state senate as the first Asian born American to be elected to the State Senate.
The first issue in the debate was about whether or not the candidates would support or oppose cuts to Medicare or Social Security considering the recent claims to cut the programs made by Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, if Republicans gain control of the chamber.
Tran said he would not support the cuts of Medicare or Social Security since inflation continues to rise.
“Inflation is a problem that my opponent and her colleagues have created,” said Tran.
Responding to Tran’s accusation, Trahan says she has worked hard to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
“Both of my parents are on each [Medicare and Social Security.] Kevin McCarthy is going to attack, destabilize and privatize Social Security. He’s been clear about this and is the reason why we can’t afford to lose the majority in the House,” she said.
Cluverius later asked the candidates if they would vote yes or no on a ban of all abortions at 15 weeks.
Tran said he feels the issue of abortion is personal and should be left up to patients and healthcare providers to decide based on the circumstance. He also said he feels the rest of healthcare regulations should be left up to the individual states to decide.
Trahan said she would heavily oppose the proposal of such a ban.
“I am the mother of two young daughters, and I have to tell you, I wake up every day thinking about how they are living with less rights or could be living with less rights than I grew up with,” said Trahan. “We are taking our country backwards. We must codify Roe,” she said. Trahan also said that Tran celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Responding to her claim that he celebrated the overturning of the Supreme Court decision, Tran said, “My opponent received a memo from the Democratic Party to say your opponent celebrated the decision. I did not celebrate this decision.”
He then attacked his opponent’s stance on unrestricted abortions.
“The congresswoman supports unrestricted abortion. That means that you can kill a baby that second before it is born. You know, the CDC recorded statistics that say over 38% of aborted babies are African American, 22% Hispanic, and 8% Asian,” he said. “So, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but it sounds like you like killing minority babies,” he said.
After the moderator calmed the noise from the crowd, Trahan said, “You’ve crossed a line there. I’m the only one on this stage that has actually had a baby…Women deserve better, the people of this district and their families deserve better,” she said.
The candidates were also asked about how they considered the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
Tran said that he recognizes that Donald Trump is no longer the president but felt it was silly to continue to dwell on a figure that is no longer in the political field. He said the political focus should be placed elsewhere such as creating jobs and stopping inflation.
Trahan said she also supports the results of the 2020 presidential election and that it is sad that we even have to address such questions. She says she is working to spread the stop of misinformation and disinformation that led to the January 6th insurrection on the U.S. capitol building.
Massachusetts’ 3rd congressional district incorporates Lowell and over a dozen other towns in northern Massachusetts. The election to decide who will represent the district will be held on November 8.