With Key Legislative Elections Decided in September, Forums Taking Place Wed. and Thurs.

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Election of several state legislators, including a new minority majority Senate district, will be decided in September since there are no opposing party challengers to require November balloting.

That means Methuen Community Studios and Lawrence Community Access Television plan what may be the only candidate forums this Wednesday and Thursday. Methuen Community Studios Executive Director Karen L. Hayden explained the urgency.

“My biggest concern is that people are not aware that the primary election on Sept. 6 is their only chance to vote on this. Whomever wins that day—the day after Labor Day—will be the ones representing us at the State House in 2023. There are no Republicans running for those seats, so no general election is necessary,” she told WHAV.

The 16th Essex District finds incumbent Rep. Marcos A. Devers of Lawrence facing Francisco E. Paulino of Methuen in the Democratic primary. The candidates answer questions live Wednesday, July 20, at 7 p.m. The forum is moderated by Hayden.

In the 4th Essex District state representative race, Democratic contenders are former Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, Methuen City Councilor James McCarty and Lawrence City Councilor Estela A. Reyes. They will participate in a live forum Thursday, July 21, at 6 p.m., moderated by Michelle Houle, host of “Methuen Now.” The district was also designed during last year’s redistricting to be a minority majority seat.

Of interest to Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen is the reconfigured seat for 1st Essex District state senator. The three Democrats seeking the seat are Pavel Payano and Doris V. Rodriguez, both of Lawrence, and Eunice D. Zeigler of Methuen. They face off during Thursday’s forum, at 7:30 p.m., moderated by Methuen Community Studio’s board member Seth Graham with Panelist Lindsay Paris of Haverhill’s HC Media.

Hayden notes redistricting is also changing partnerships among media outlets.

“With the realigning of the state house districts, we’ve had to say goodbye to some of our old partners in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury, and begin a more serious one with Lawrence Community Access TV since these new representatives and senator are squarely covering us both now,” she said.

Hayden explains she is now working closely with Christina Jaskot, executive director of Lawrence Community Access Television.

Newcomer Ryan M. Hamilton of Methuen faces no opposition from either party in his Democratic bid to succeed Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, who is retiring. The altered 15th Essex District seat covers portions of Haverhill and Methuen. Incumbent Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas also faces no opposition in the 3rd Essex District.

This week’s forums may be viewed in Methuen on Comcast 22 and 98 and Verizon Fios 33 and, in Lawrence, on Comcast channels 8 and Verizon Fios channel 40. It is also streaming at methuentv.org and LawrenceCTV.com.

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