Editor's Note: The story was clarified after being initially published to add Manning's stance on taxes and her quote about eliminating duplicate services.
Is “revenue enhancement” a code word for taxes?
That was one of the questions up for debate on Thursday night by the Democratic Party candidates for state Senate in the Second Essex District, which includes Salem. It also encompasses Peabody, Danvers, Beverly and Topsfield.
Manning said she is against raising taxes to increase funding to important programs.
"I don't think that's the first solution, I think that's the last solution," she said, later adding that she instead favors eliminating duplicate services and pork-barrel projects.
But Slattery fired back. In answering the next question about education, Slattery said, Manning had suggested spending more for English as a Second Language classes for adults.
“I guess it’s OK in education but not in other areas,” Slattery said.
The four Democratic candidates for state Senate — in addition to Manning and Slattery, includes Joan Lovely and Edward Carroll, both of Salem — spent about 75 minutes on stage in the newly renovated auditorium at Beverly High School. The debate was hosted by the Salem News and BevCam, Beverly’s public access TV channel, and hosted by Salem News Editor David Olsen.
All four candidates will be on the ballot for the Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 6. The winner will face Republican Richard Jolitz in the general election in November.
The debate remained civil, with the candidates at first standing, and later sitting, at a table together on the stage.
Taxes later became an issue, this time from a question to the candidates that came from a Salem News reader.
Lovely suggested that the state’s income tax rate should be rolled back to 5 percent, which the voters had backed in a referendum.
“The legislature should listen to the people,” she said, later adding: “I think we are collecting enough taxes.”
When a tax cut went before the legislature, and Slattery represented Peabody in the House of Representatives, he said he did not back the full rollback because “the entire state would have come to a halt; It wasn’t workable.”
Instead, he said he favored a plan where the tax rate would be lowered — which it has, to 5.3 percent — based on increasing revenue.
Manning said Slattery’s notion that government would have come to a halt — and that there would be no money to build bridges or pay teachers and police officers — was incorrect.
“Come on,” she said.
Carroll said his plan to bring a resort casino to the Salem power plant property would help lower taxes be devoting 1 cent from ever dollar of revenue at the property to local government.
“My plan is the only one with jobs and lower taxes,” he said.
But also at issue — perhaps surprisingly — was racial profiling. The candidates were asked about their position on the Secure Communities Act, a federal law recently enacted in Massachusetts where law enforcement checks the immigration status of people who are arrested.
Carroll said from 25 years working as a jail guard — “Profiling works; body language talks.”
“I believe it is racial profiling,” he said. “It works and it will keep us safe.”
The other three candidates all said they oppose racial profiling.
“Racial profiling is simply wrong and we shouldn’t have that in Massachusetts,” Slattery said.
Carroll said that the fact the other three candidates agree with each highlights one of the things that makes him, as a former jail guard, different from his opponents.
“That’s the answer you’ll get from an attorney — that profiling is wrong,” he said.