Saugus rivals square off

This article was published 6 year(s) and 7 month(s) ago.

State Rep Donald Wong. Item file photo.

By Thor Jourgensen

WAKEFIELD — State Rep. Donald Wong touted his experience as a three-term legislator Thursday night. But challenger Jennifer Migliore said she will have more access as a Democrat to “the powers that be” in the State House.

The pair answered questions posed by a Wakefield Community Access Television (WCAT) media panel for an hour in advance of the Nov. 8 election.

Wong, a Republican representing the 9th Essex District, and Migliore said they will fight to keep Union Hospital open. Migliore said owner Partners HealthCare must ensure emergency services are preserved in Lynn and Wong suggested the hospital, if it is closed in three years, could be a future veterans hospital.

Migliore said she wants state officials to reconsider action earlier this year on Wheelabrator’s request to extend the life of its landfill.

The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act review of Wheelabrator’s proposal concluded that no further environmental review was necessary and that the proposal can be advanced to the state Department of Environmental Protection for permitting.

“People in Saugus are very concerned about the risk factor. This is an area Rep. Wong has been weak on,” Migliore said.

Wong said a state public health study concluded there are no adverse health effects from the landfill. But Wong said he favors an additional federal study.

“Wheelabrator should receive a fair and unbiased review,” Wong said.

Wong, 64, served on Saugus Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen. He is a 41-year town resident as well as a third-generation business owner of the Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1.

He has been endorsed by the Saugus Republican Town Committee, with the committee citing his perfect voting record in the Legislature, and Saugus police unions.

Migliore, 25, is a Saugus native and Wellesley College graduate. In her former job as district representative to U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, she served as a liaison to the U.S. Department of Labor.

She beat Wakefield resident Saritin Rizzuto in September to win the Democratic primary. Her endorsements include the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro Choice, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

The 9th Essex District encompasses precincts 1, 2, 4-9 in Saugus; precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 in Wakefield; and Ward 1 precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn.

Migliore said her work with Moulton and her ability, if elected, to work with fellow Democrats in the Legislature will help Lynn, Saugus and Wakefield get additional state money to push Copeland Circle road work and other Route 1 improvements forward.

“I want to create a new vision for Route 1,” she said.

But Wong said state tax money cannot be simply dedicated to transportation and other specific projects. He said he has a track record of getting state money for Saugus public safety and education projects and said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will join him in Saugus early next month to announce $120,000 in state money for a local water works project.

Wong described himself as a longtime town resident with local and state government experience facing an “opponent who worked nine months as a government staffer.” But Migliore said the 9th Essex District race “is about our district getting its fair share.” She criticized Wong in her closing statement.

“At the time when he should have been involved on Beacon Hill, he was too heavily involved in Saugus politics,” she said.

Both candidates said they oppose the state ballot question legalizing marijuana and will vote no on expanding charter schools in Massachusetts.

The pair took questions Thursday night from Daily Item News Editor Thor Jourgensen, Wakefield Daily Item reporter/columnist Mark Sardella and Wakefield Observer reporter Richard Tenorio. WCAT producer David Watts Jr. moderated the debate.

Thursday’s debate can be viewed on WCAT You Tube. The Daily Item (Lynn) has scheduled a 9th Essex Debate on Nov. 3 in Saugus Town Hall.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at