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Peabody has say in statewide conversation

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Patrick Maguire talks to Massachusetts state senators about real estate.

By LEAH DEARBORN

PEABODY — It was the North Shore’s turn to host a Commonwealth Conversation in the form of a Town Hall Forum at the Higgins Middle School on Tuesday night.

Commonwealth Conversations began as a way for members of the Senate and local government to hear citizen concerns in nine areas of the state.

Members of the audience were given two minutes to stand before legislators and speak their minds on whatever issue they wished to address.

State Sen. Joan Lovely of the Second Essex District was one of nine senators present for the forum, along with State Rep. Thomas Walsh (D-Peabody).

Earlier in the day, the legislators visited Roca in Chelsea, attended a forum regarding transportation at the Lynn Museum and took a development walking tour of Malden.

“You’re going to see something very unusual. Twenty-five percent of the state Senate not saying a word,” said State Sen. Michael Rodrigues.

A few topics, such as climate change, the privatization of the MBTA, and animal cruelty came up several times throughout the night, but the concerns of citizens ran a wide gamut.

Patrick Maguire, president-elect of the North Shore Association of Realtors came to the podium to talk about housing affordability, which he said faces barriers in local zoning laws and could be addressed through the passage of Bill S.94.

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Carl Nellis, a Gloucester resident who works in Peabody, was at the forum on behalf of political group Essex County #6 Indivisible in support of the Safe Communities Act, designed to prevent local law officers from becoming involved with immigration enforcement.   

Others in the audience sought support for carbon pricing bills as a means of cutting carbon emissions in the state. Sue Kirby of Salem endorsed the incremental raising of the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021.

“No one should work full-time and make so little that they can’t make ends meet,” she said.

The town hall forums are part of the process by which the Senate sets its agenda. Commentary provided in the forums was written up in a report at the end of the senators’ previous tour.

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