During a mayoral debate that brought out a capacity crowd at the Woburn High School auditorium, incumbent Mayor Scott Galvin and challenger John Flaherty showed voters they have differing opinions on a wide range of topics.
The event took place on Monday evening, and was scheduled to include Galvin, Flaherty and Patrick Natale. However, as the debate was set to begin, it became evident that Natale was not present, and his podium remained empty throughout the evening.
As expected, candidates were asked their opinion on the benefits package for Officer Robert DeNapoli, though it was through a hypothetical situation.
Moderator Sheila Capone-Wulsin read a question that laid out a scenario where a firefighter was injured in the line of duty, and asked each candidate if they would support 100 percent pay for life, or 100 percent until age 65 and then 80 percent.
Galvin, as has been previously publicized, told the audience he would support 100 percent until age 65, following by 80 percent pay.
“It’s a very fair and generous package,” said Galvin. “We live in a dangerous world in public safety. They know that, unfortunately, every day could be their last day. It’s a dangerous world. When we’re setting packages it’s not just one person we are dealing with. It’s future people. You have to take in the entire picture, and that’s what the mayor does.”
Flaherty, meanwhile, said he supports 100 percent for life in the situation of DeNapoli, and in the hypothetical scenario proposed in the question.
“I am totally opposite of what the mayor had to say,” said Flaherty. “You take someone in, you work with them. You don’t put them through what they’ve put Officer DeNapoli through. That’s why I am running for mayor. I really can’t understand why things can’t be taken care of in a proper way. We don’t need to be embarrassed by the news. It’s just wrong.”
Even before the debate started, the topic of DeNapoli came up. Mayor Galvin came to the microphone to ask the audience for a moment of silence for a Woburn Police Officer who lost his battle with cancer over the weekend.
Following the moment of silence, someone in the crowd shouted out “What about DeNapoli?” and there were some groans from the audience.
The negative rankings of Woburn Public Schools were also discussed by each candidate. Galvin said “I stand behind the system and I’ll say it until the cows come home,” and added that “we fund (the school district) and fund it appropriately.”
Flaherty said he believes the school system needs to be a priority so that when considering to move to Woburn, people don’t “say they’re not coming here because the school systems are lousy.”
Flaherty said he would “100 percent” support library renovations, while Galvin said he would need to look at all options for the building and take into consideration what other projects are coming down the road.
The debate lasted about 45 minutes, and was mainly civil throughout. Capone-Wulsin said before starting the event that seeing about 100 residents line the streets holding signs, and seeing a capacity crowd was impressive.
“In the age of voter apathy and low turnout, it’s incredibly heartening to see this room almost full,” said Capone-Wulsin. “That is totally commendable, and great for the City of Woburn.”
Check back later Tuesday on Woburn Patch for coverage of the Alderman-at-Large and Ward 5 debates.