Boyle a no-show at debate

Dis­cuss­ing the is­sues: (From left) Dr. Valer­ie Arkoosh, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Mar­jor­ie Mar­gol­ies at­ten­ded a pub­lic de­bate on April 29 at the Por­tuguese Club in Rhawn­hurst. MATT SCHICK­LING / TIMES PHOTO

Former Con­gress­wo­man Mar­jor­ie Mar­gol­ies wasted little time an­swer­ing the near-con­stant cri­ti­cism from her com­pet­it­ors in the race for the 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict seat.

At a for­um held on April 29 at the Por­tuguese Club, 2019 Rhawn St., Mar­gol­ies used her short open­ing state­ment par­tially as a way to in­tro­duce her back­ground and polit­ic­al goals, but primar­ily as a means to launch her own at­tacks on the oth­er can­did­ates.

Her crosshairs landed most squarely on state Sen. Daylin Leach, who earli­er in the week had pub­licly cri­ti­cized Mar­gol­ies for al­legedly us­ing gen­er­al elec­tion cam­paign funds dur­ing the primary, which is il­leg­al.

“For someone who gets paid full-time by the state tax­pay­ers, you are spend­ing an aw­ful lot of time on me,” Mar­gol­ies said, ad­dress­ing Leach. “You alone among the can­did­ates will not be able to vote in this elec­tion as you don’t live in the dis­trict.”

Leach, well-pre­pared for such cri­ti­cism, de­fen­ded his stand­ing in the dis­trict as someone who grew up a foster child and lived in 14 dif­fer­ent homes and at­ten­ded eight dif­fer­ent ele­ment­ary schools through his first 18 years in the North­east and else­where. He now lives in Wayne, which is part of the 7th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict.

“I live about 200 yards from the dis­trict. There’s no sub­stance to that charge,” Leach said. “I do not find my­self con­fused when I walk across Brook­wood [Road] at the strange land I find my­self in.”

State Rep. Brendan Boyle, who had par­ti­cip­ated in all four pre­vi­ous voter for­ums since Janu­ary, chose not to at­tend this event. Boyle de­fen­ded his de­cision in a state­ment re­leased by his cam­paign a few hours be­fore the for­um, where he sug­ges­ted that it could not be neut­ral due to the form­al en­dorse­ment of Mar­gol­ies’ cam­paign by Demo­crat­ic ward lead­er John Sabat­ina, who or­gan­ized the de­bate. 

“Ms. Mar­gol­ies has de­clined all but one in­vit­a­tion to the for­ums held so far, and will seem­ingly only par­ti­cip­ate in events in which she is al­lowed to read off note cards,” Boyle wrote. “As Mr. Sabat­ina knows, we nev­er agreed to par­ti­cip­ate in his ‘de­bate’.”

In­stead, Boyle and his sup­port­ers held a rally to sup­port his cam­paign earli­er in the even­ing. Ac­cord­ing to his state­ment, the event was meant to high­light “the em­phas­is of [Boyle’s] cam­paign: the needs of work­ing fam­il­ies in­stead of mil­lion­aires like [his] three op­pon­ents and half of Con­gress.”

His empty seat at the Por­tuguese Club al­lowed the oth­er can­did­ates to dis­par­age his de­cision, and par­tic­u­larly, his stance on abor­tion, without be­ing con­tested. 

Dr. Valer­ie Arkoosh, the third Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate in at­tend­ance, for the most part avoided en­ter­ing the ten­sion between Mar­gol­ies and Leach, but spoke out against Boyle’s policies in this re­gard.

“It’s been very in­ter­est­ing that Rep­res­ent­at­ive Boyle has raised an is­sue with three weeks to go in this cam­paign, es­pe­cially as his re­cord on wo­men’s health has come un­der scru­tiny,” Arkoosh said. She sug­ges­ted that Boyle is “try­ing to man­u­fac­ture an is­sue” with this de­bate “to dis­tract voters from how out of touch [he] is with wo­men in this dis­trict.”

Leach sim­il­arly chimed in, agree­ing with Arkoosh and re­but­ting Boyle’s im­plic­a­tion that the oth­er can­did­ates’ fin­an­cial status places them out of touch with the middle class.

“I would kill to have Brendan Boyle’s child­hood,” Leach said. “No one has done more to ad­dress in­come in­equal­ity than I have.”

Leach cited his bills to in­crease min­im­um wage and end tip min­im­um wage as sup­port in his de­fense. 

From there, the present can­did­ates seemed to find more com­mon ground. Both Arkoosh and Mar­gol­ies also ex­pressed sup­port of in­creased min­im­um wage. All three, to vary­ing de­grees, backed the leg­al­iz­a­tion of med­ic­al marijuana and de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana-re­lated crimes, while only Leach stood firmly for leg­al­iz­a­tion of re­cre­ation­al use. Mar­gol­ies and Leach took stances against term lim­its, and Arkoosh sup­por­ted term lim­its, but only as the “cur­rent ger­ry­mandered sys­tem” is in place. Leach and Arkoosh op­pose the Key­stone XL Pipeline, while Mar­gol­ies fa­vors a more “wait and see” ap­proach.

All three can­did­ates pledged to sup­port whichever Demo­crat wins in the primary. But des­pite these agree­ments, no two can­did­ates are alike in this race. With the May 20 primary elec­tion now less than two weeks away, the can­did­ates must use their dif­fer­ences to find agree­ment with voters. ••

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