NEWTON — The city’s two mayoral candidates emphasized their progressive bonafides and opposition to President Trump during a debate hosted by the city’s Republican committee Thursday night.
Over two hours of discussion, there was no mention of the rift that erupted last week between candidates Scott F. Lennon and Ruthanne Schwartz Fuller after Lennon took out a campaign ad viewed by his opponent as sexist.
Lennon and Fuller have largely agreed on issues facing the city, including the need for more affordable housing, economic development in village centers, and investment in public infrastructure.
On Thursday, they were heavily pressed by moderator Al Cecchinelli on some of those issues — including their support for Newton’s ordinance making the city a sanctuary for immigrants.
Lennon and Fuller both said they were proud of the measure, which was passed by the City Council last summer.
“Should we have done it? Absolutely,” Fuller said.
The debate, hosted by the Newton Republican City Committee and the Sons of the American Legion Post 440 in Nonantum, was the last scheduled time voters will see Lennon and Fuller together before Tuesday’s election.
Lennon and Fuller, both Democrats, have also supported a congressional investigation into whether Trump should be impeached.
On Thursday, each was asked to name a Trump policy they could support: Fuller credited Trump with trying to reach out to working people to ensure they “are represented in the economy and in the decision-making process.”
Lennon, seated behind a large GOP banner, simply blasted Trump. “As a lifelong Democrat, I can’t support any of the policies,” Lennon said.
Lennon said he would appeal to Trump supporters by asking them to look at his years of work on the City Council.
“Whether they are a Trump supporter or whether they are not, I would hope that they would look that they are getting someone [who would] think about how to make the city of Newton better,” Lennon said.
Fuller said she opposes Trump’s moves to pull back from the Paris climate agreement and cuts to community development block grants, and is disappointed with Trump’s mockery of people with physical disabilities.
Fuller called herself “proud to be a Democrat” and said, “I will continue to believe in and act as mayor on these values.”
In the final days of the race, both campaigns waged their last-ditch efforts to sway undecided voters by knocking on doors and buying ads in the local paper.
One of those ads — placed by Lennon in last week’s Newton Tab — sparked criticism from Fuller that Lennon undervalued the work experience of a woman compared to that of a man. Lennon later said the advertisement used a poor choice of words.
Lennon, 47, the City Council president and a councilor-at-large for Ward 1, and Fuller, 59, a Ward 7 councilor-at-large, were the top finishers in a seven-way vote in September.
The winner will replace Mayor Setti Warren, a two-term Democrat, as he runs for governor. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the city clerk’s office.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.