Immigration Battle Ignites Again During Democratic Candidates’ Debate

School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti, left, and City Councilor Andy X. Vargas are competing for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Essex District seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Hear the candidates themselves during Local News on 97.9 WHAV FM, every half hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The two Democrats hoping to occupy the 3rd Essex District House seat recently vacated by Rep. Brian S. Dempsey did their best to persuade voters Monday that they have what it takes to replace the veteran lawmaker.

Haverhill Democrats will vote on Tuesday, Oct. 10 to choose a candidate to compete against Republican Shaun Toohey on a Nov. 7, in a special election that coincides with the city’s municipal election.

In a debate sponsored by WHAV, HC Media and the Democratic City Committee, School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti and City Councilor Andy X. Vargas agreed on issues related to education, workforce development and public safety, but clashed on immigration and experience.

Both highlighted their own immigrant family histories. Magliocchetti’s parents came here from Italy 60 years ago, he said, referring to his mother as a “Dreamer,” the term used for children whose undocumented parents bring them to the U.S. when they are young. Vargas said his parents came to the United States and settled in Haverhill in order to seek opportunity for their children.

But tensions rose when the discussion turned to current immigration policies.

The vast majority of Haverhill residents agree that undocumented immigrants involved in gangs or criminal activity should be deported. But parents who work and raise families should not have to fear immigration agents.

“Officers don’t want to focus their time on deporting moms and dads,” Vargas said.

Immigration activity should be “resource-focused and pragmatic,” Vargas said.

Magliocchetti criticized Vargas’ support of legislation called the Safe Communities Act, which calls for immigration enforcement to be focused on criminals rather than law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

“It has been signed by Mr. Vargas’ friends in Boston. I don’t support it and I won’t vote for it,” Magliocchetti said.

A first-generation American citizen, Magliocchetti said all his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are immigrants who followed the required process and stayed in the country “the right way.”

Both candidates accused each other of misunderstanding the proposed Safe Communities Act. Vargas said Magliocchetti has mischaracterized the bill, accusing him of fearmongering in an effort to gain political capital.

“My family are the new Italians, the new Irish. We’re here to work hard,” Vargas said.

On the issue of experience, Magliocchetti said he has run a machine shop with his father, Angelo, and later became a partner in the law firm of Sheehan, Schiavoni, Jutras and Magliocchetti. He has served for eight years on the Haverhill School Committee and was recently named chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

“Experience is the defining factor in this election,” Magliocchetti said. “As a business owner and community leader I deal with real issues and real people … not as an intern but as a front-line person bearing all the responsibility for getting the job done.”

Vargas is the Senior Marketing Manager for an organization called Entrepreneurship for All, which offers grants and other forms of assistance to people who want to start their own businesses. He was elected in 2015 to the Haverhill City Council at the age of 22. After graduating from Boston University, he served as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and in the White House. He noted that Dempsey was 25 when he was elected to his first term as state representative. He resigned 25 years later as one of the most powerful lawmakers in the state, chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.

“I’m going to be the candidate who hustles for Haverhill,” Vargas said.

Both candidates stressed the importance of being able to build coalitions as a way for a freshman lawmaker to make up for the loss of clout that Dempsey wielded on Beacon Hill.

Magliocchetti said he would approach House members who represent communities on the borders of the states surrounding Massachusetts, and of the state’s urban Gateway communities. There is strength in numbers of a group whose communities deal with similar concerns, he said.

Vargas said the fact that he has been endorsed by a majority of his City Council colleagues is indicative of his ability to build coalitions and work well with others. He said he has already begun to develop a relationship with Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, nominated to replace Dempsey as House Ways and Means chairman.

Asked about how they would help local schools, both candidates said increased funding is a necessity.

Vargas said Haverhill needs another school to ease crowding.

Magliocchetti called for hiring at least 10 social workers to work with children and their families.

Both said they would support the so-called Fair Share Tax question being placed on the ballot in 2018 to gauge voter support of a 4 percent tax on incomes over $1 million.

Vargas said he would vote for the measure if it came before the Legislature.

Magliocchetti called for “looking at what you already have.” He suggested the tax on medical marijuana will bring a new revenue stream.

If either Vargas or Magliocchetti is elected, Haverhill police can expect support from Beacon Hill. Both candidates said the city’s force is badly under-staffed. Magliocchetti said the police need to be properly staffed, equipped and trained. Vargas said he would work with city officials to find grants to keep police staffing at acceptable levels.

Both said they advocate solar and other green energy sources and support Massachusetts businesses paying their workers a “living wage.”

The candidates answered questions by a four-person panel representing the sponsors of the debate: WHAV general manager Tim Coco, HC Media personality Frank Novak, and Democratic City Committe members Linda Lankowski and Joe LeBlanc.


23 thoughts on “Immigration Battle Ignites Again During Democratic Candidates’ Debate

  1. I would like to know more about the out of town politicians (Boston) who have endorsed Andy. Some of them went so far as to hold a fundraiser for Andy’s campaign. Clearly the time will come when Andy will have to pay for these endorsements and the fundraiser. Politicians do not not do anything without expecting payback. Haverhill voters need to demand more information about these people who are attempting to influence election. I noticed that at the debate
    Andy proudly acknowledged his other endorsements but carefully skipped over these.

  2. I too come from Italian and Irish immigrant grandparents and great grandparents. They could breeze through Ellis Island and any sort of immigration process compared to how it is today. To say that it’s the same thing tells me either Mr. Magliocchetti has no idea what he’s talking about in regards to current realities, but that he’s doing everything to tear Mr. Vargas down.
    In my opinion it’s unfair, uncalled for and unbecoming, never mind untrue. I would like to see all immigrant families come through the borders legally and smoothly. Unfortunately that isn’t possible. I agree that immigration officers should start with safe communities and deport criminals first and foremost. A family who came here to work hard and didn’t or somehow couldn’t, either out of fear, understanding of the process or financial resources to do so should be able to find a path to citizenship. Mr. Magliocchetti if you’re reading this, you not anyone in your family nor mine is a “dreamer,” and I’m saying so with the same family origin history. The term is referring to those currently in limbo due to DACA. Throwing these young adults out of the country who had no choice in the matter, were born and raised here, attended colleges, bought homes, built lives and opened businesses shouldn’t be tossed out. We’d be throwing away a valuable commodity lacking today: educated people. By your logic, your mother should have been deported too, right? I don’t buy this “experienced business and community leader” act. You’re coasting through life thanks to your political friends. I’m all set. I’ll take the bright mind who was an intern at a US embassy among other experiences over yours any day. What exactly have YOU accomplished over all these years for the city of Haverhill? Specifics, not being “a business owner and community leader.”
    Mr. Toohey is a firm No for me. Mr. Magliocchetti again proved why I’m voting for Mr. Vargas. He’s the only one of the three who is not an empty windbag lifelong political weasel.

  3. Vargas is supported by other do-nothing city council members and dares to wear that as a badge of honor. If he continues and wins, he will continue to do what he does best. Nothing. He does like to talk though. So I suspect we shall continue to hear his SNL-esque Obama impersonation for some time. Paul Magliocchetti seems to be the only grown up running. As for the Republican running. Another incestual political arrangement to benefit one family and do nothing for the many families who desperately need a grown up representing Haverhill.

    • If a democrat wins this seat their job on Beacon Hill will be to sit in the corner, shut their mouth, and do what they’re told. Just ask Linda Dean Campbell what happens when you don’t do that. When she stepped out of line by being the only democrat in the Merrimack Valley to vote to allow the issue of the definition of marriage to appear on a state ballot initiative for voters to decide she put a target on her back. Dempsey and Baddour then recruited someone to run against her. Think about that! Party leadership recruited someone to run against an incumbent party member. Now you never hear a peep from Campbell except when she files insane legislation about dogs and cats. If a democrat wins they’ll be no different. Especially if it’s the child community organizer with literally no life experience what so ever.

      • Vargas can’t even handle a Facebook account without inciting hysteria. That ICE stunt alone displays his profound lack of judgement. Political grandstanding without having the maturity or insightfulness to understand the potential harm it causes and the unfortunate message it sends to law enforcement. He needs parental controls on his social media and some real world experience. Vargas. No thanks. Haverhill has enough problems.

        • Gil…exactly…well said!!!

          if you haven’t done so already, read the editorial in The Valley Patriot titled …
          “Vargas Put Lives At Risk”

          It should be mandatory reading for everyone voting in this city…especially for democrats.

    • Well said Gil.

      Vargas is a nice kid , but he’s an empty shirt. The darling of the Haverhill Democratic City Committee, a group so adrift from reality that veterans, labor, and public safety are foreign concepts.

      Can you imagine? A DEMOCRATIC organization that forgot unions and veterans…DISGUSTING! Andy is as self-centered and elitist as the lefty nutjobs that support him.

      As for Shawn Ryan….no thanks. Maglliochetti is the only sane choice.

      • You talk about labor, unions veterans — Vargas has the endorsements of the Laborers, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, a Green Beret and several other – in addition to getting the MTA to endorse him, despite the fact that Magliocchetti has served as a school committee member for 8 years.

        The Haverhill good old boys club, reigning from their homes in the outskirts of the city (Magliocchetti’s home is barely in the district- and might as well be in Lenny Mirra’s district) won’t stand for a young non-white guy who has proven himself.

        Most people in these forums are the ones that hold Haverhill back.

        • Hey Dan,
          “from their homes in the outskirts of the city” = Class warfare.
          “for a young non-white guy” = race card.
          Politics of division. Haverhill deserves better.

        • “Vargas has the endorsements of the Laborers, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO” –

          Might want to ask him why there’s roughly 1 million less union members every 10 years. Were it not for PUBLIC sector unions, unions would be in even worse shape. MA is down, but holding at 12%, again, thanks to public unions. Then again, the leadership of these unions are part of the so-called 1% and Democrats don’t bat an eye.

          “The Haverhill good old boys club” –

          Microcosm of The Democratic Party – a complete mess. Progressives versus the wealthy donor bases, climaxing with Democratic National Committee election of Perez, a true crony who represents all that is wrong with Washington. Much like the Republicans split of Tea Party, Conservatives, and freedom/liberty wings (but they don’t matter in MA).

          “young non-white guy who has proven himself.” –

          That’s a bit of a stretch, but your racial overtone is another example of division. While we all have personal bias, I don’t care what color they are if I thought they would actually help Americans and this country and not be just another sell out playing deceiver.

        • the League of Women Voters statewide does support the Safe Communities Act. I have only been a member of LWV Greater Haverhill for a year now but I am very impressed with their work across the state. Here is the testimony that they gave at the state house in support of the Safe Communities Act. I support it as does Andy Vargas .

        • Oh please. The Democratic Committee is full of middle aged, white folk crazy about Vargas. I didn’t think race was an issue , but now it is hah Dan? Pleeeerzzzze Andy’s whiter than I am …cut the racial bs.

      • Somebody, (anybody) point to something (anything) that Vargas has accomplished. Haverhill needs an adult with real world experience and the ability to handle his own social media account. Vargas is impulsive, unprepared, immature and in his short career has already proven his inability to make smart choices. Haverhill cannot afford mistakes like little Andy’s ICE fiasco happening on the State Rep. level. Let’s not allow Vargas to get his “on the job training” at our expense.

  4. (link error)

    Did Andy finally admit the truth that his parents are criminally trespassing in this country? Andy’s parents are intentionally breaking the law of this country. In the 2010 US Census, when Andy was attending HHS, there is no mention of Andy’s entire family. That’s because people illegally in this country do not fill out the census for fear of their status being revealed. That’s not working hard… that criminal deception.

    Knowing Andy’s family took steps hide their status in the country helps to connect the dots on why he put lives at risk in Haverhill when he warned criminal trespassers in the city that Federal Immigration officials were in the city doing their job. And there he is proposing a new school when it is the mayor’s implementation of sanctuary city policies and building low income housing which as attracted invaders and their children to the city creating the need for a new school. As a liberal, he thinks it’s completely fine that taxpayers have to pay for it.

  5. “Safe Communities Act, accusing him of fearmongering in an effort to gain political capital” –

    It was written by that socialist jackass State Senator Jamie Eldridge, who is a full supporter of Invaders, with support from the other ideological douche State Senator Cynthia Creem. Of course, she lives in her multi million-dollar neighborhood where Invaders do not live unless they’re working in her yard (see Mitt Romney). There’s nothing “safe” about it, we have enough problems here with Americans, stop importing new ones to a city, state, and country that can’t handle it. But hey, if you want to stuff our schools and overwhelm our social safety nets (i.e. HEALTHCARE, housing) meant for Americans, then by all means, support it, because you know, it’s ok when you force everyone else to pay for it.

    “Both said they would support the so-called Fair Share Tax” –

    The final Bill will be filled with loopholes so it can be written off. The irony of course is I have yet to meet a Democrat that truly believes in “fair share” considering the tax breaks/incentives they give to everyone else who never meet the promises they make. What usually happens, and as we’re seeing now on Beacon Hill, pols are now devising a way to commit more theft of the fruits of our labor because they make sure cronies get paid and budgets with on-going deficits.

    “paying their workers a “living wage.” –

    Is that like State Senator Dan Wolf’s version, CEO of Cape Air, who supports #Fightfor15 yet doesn’t pay his own employees $15/hr? What exactly is a living wage? How much is it? Especially in a state with high cost of living and one of the highest in income disparity (Boston is #1 in the country). Please stop. It sounds nice but your theories and bad math will make it worse (see pulled forward demand via debt).