36th Middlesex District
TYNGSBORO -- State Rep. Colleen Garry and Ray Leczynski on Tuesday touched on a wide range of local and statewide topics at a 36th Middlesex District debate hosted by Tyngsboro TV at Town Hall.
The candidates facing off at the polls on Nov. 6 shared their approach to the opioid crisis, the greatest issues facing the district, and more during the debate moderated by Steve Brogan, Media Program Coordinator for the Town of Tyngsboro. Bill Gilman of Your Dracut Today, WCAP’s Teddy Panos, and Sun reporter Amaris Castillo each asked questions of Garry and Leczynski. Questions submitted from the public beforehand were also posed to the candidates.
The mood between Garry and her Republican challenger was polite despite recent tension on social media over how many debates should be held between them.
Leczynski said the overwhelming issue facing the 36th Middlesex District is the opioid crisis.
“We’ve made some great strides with adding rehabilitation beds, but now there’s talk about the clean injection facilities, which I’m dead set against. We have to break the cycle of addiction and injection centers aren’t going to do that,” he said. “I would like to see us start focusing more on prevention, specifically more about dosing limits.”
When asked, both Garry and Leczynski said they’d support the introduction of Narcan into local public schools. Narcan is an FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose.
Gilman asked Leczynski and Garry what kinds of facilities they feel are appropriate for communities like Tyngsboro and Dracut. Leczynski brought up transition facilities and said “we need to get more serious about law enforcement.”
“If we got our immigration policy in control, that would go a long way to helping this epidemic as well,” said Leczynski, referencing a recent drug bust in the city of Lawrence.
“Well then I think Mr. Leczynski should be running for Congress if he wants to take care of the immigration issue,” Garry said.
Garry said she feels providing safe injection sites to address the crisis is a “false option,” and that she’d like to see more programs like Erin’s House and Megan’s House in communities like Dracut and Tyngsboro.
The number one issue facing the district is economic development, according to Garry.
“We’ve been working very diligently with both communities and with the governor and we’ve been able to get (a) $2.5 million MassWorks grant to Dracut and (a) $2.5 million MassWorks grant for Tyngsboro to get some more economic development in the community,” she said. “I think with that extra money coming in from the economic development, then you can help with everything else: the roads, the paving and so forth, the schools, and everything that people care about.”
If elected, Leczynski said he would keep his job while serving as state representative, adding that his bosses have been 100 percent supportive of his bid.
“I’m a 25-year private sector guy and I’m used to working 60-70 hours a week. I’m not married. My daughter is grown and out of the house, and I’m confident that I can handle both duties and what really prompted me to do this is, if I can maintain my job, I’m going to be a fiercely independent legislator the whole time,” he said. “I’m not going to be beholden to any special interest groups, so I think that would be a really strong point -- that I can be very independent while serving as a legislator.”
Garry said she doesn’t think Leczynski understands the job and that it’s “much more than voting on Wednesdays.” She said that, as a part-time attorney, she can work around her legislative schedule.
“It is a full-time job for me. I would never be owing anyone, regardless of whether they donated to me, whether they supported me, whether they held signs for me,” Garry said. “My only allegiance is to the people of Dracut and Tyngsboro, and I’ve done that for 24 years and they’ve agreed with it.”
Garry, who has served in her role as state representative for the 36th Middlesex District for over two decades, has touted her years of dedication to the district’s citizens as well as her institutional knowledge of the Statehouse and of the communities.
Leczynski, a first-time candidate, has said if elected he’d concentrate first on controlling spending and taxes and increasing local aid for education and public safety.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.