By Jim Coughlin
Outgoing City Councillor at Large Gary Rosen co-hosted a candidate’s forum September 9 at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers AFL-CIO newly renovated office on Mill Street for the four candidates who are competing in the preliminary election for the District 5 City Council seat.
The district 5 candidates are Etel Haxhiaj, Yenni Desroches, Stephen Quist and Gregory Stratman. The seat is being vacated because the current occupant of that seat, Councillor Wally, is now a candidate for councillor at large in the November 2 final election.
The candidates, when responding to questions, did their very best to define themselves for the roughly 75 members of the audience that also included At Large City Councillors Khrystian King, Donna Colorio and Maurice “Mo” Bergman, along with former District 5 City Councillor Wayne Griffin.
Quist said he is “moderate centrist” candidate on more than one occasion and took aim at both Haxhiaj and Desroches, saying that they both “want to defund police,” while Desrochers called herself, “a technology focused candidate.” Stratman, for his self described attribution, called himself a “moderate candidate.”
Quist took aim at Haxhiaj for her failure to support an increase in the number of Worcester Police Officers to the complement of 450 officers.
Haxhiaj, in responding to Quist’s criticism on policing, said not every phone call asking for police assistance needs to be responded to by the police. She said other kinds of first responders could be used for some of the calls that are regularly made by city residents requesting police intervention.
Also in attendance at the forum was Evan Corrigan, age 25 who himself was a candidate for councillor at large in the election two years ago in which he placed “tied for 12th and thirteenth place.” Corrigan, who does not live in District 5, when asked to comment on the evening’s forum said what he liked most about the program was the portion that was devoted to the candidates, asking each other questions on various public policy questions or their campaign positions.
Also echoing Corrigan’s point was Councillor Colorio who also added that one of the best things that came out as a direct result of the night’s discussion was that it showed “the differences between the candidates and that was good.”
After the discussions had ended, one undecided voter in the audience was former District 5 City Councillor Griffin who once held the council seat back in the 1990’s during the time that former Worcester City Manager William J. “Jeff” Mulford occupied the City Managers’s office. In my interview with him, he described the time during which he had served on the council as “the Mulford era.”
The top two vote getters in the preliminary election on Tuesday, September 14 will compete in the general election on Tuesday, November 2.