More than a hundred people crowded in to North Quincy High School auditorium Thursday to witness the first of two debates between incumbent Mayor Thomas Koch and challenger Anne Mahoney.
The candidates stood stoically at two podiums on the North Quincy High stage, fielding questions about everything from tax increases to the downtown redevelopment before sparring back and forth about management styles and hiring practices.
According to Koch, the city has “made great progress in the last four years,” and has maintained financial stability, earned a high-quality bond rating, dealt with wage freezes, and invested in the downtown redevelopment – “something that has become a model nationally,” Koch said.
Additionally, tax increases this year would be minimal, the city had maintained a good track record with projects from the completion of the Quincy High School to beginning work on the Central school, had invested in public safety programs and initiatives, and had handled issues with grace and perseverance.
For all the accomplishments that Koch touted, Mahoney had critiques.
Mahoney maintained that there was a shift in priorities with this administration – away from fiscal responsibility, a loss of academic priorities, and the intensity on few projects has left bigger picture views out of focus, she said.
“Our homes are declining in value as we take on all of these projects…until the economy comes back…we won't be able to meet those demands for the debts we’ve taken on, and that’s poor planning and poor strategy, and we cant take all of that on at once,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney critiqued what she termed as a massive tax increase, criticized the mayor’s lack of foresight as it pertains to Faxon Field and the demolition of Old Quincy High School, and was openly critical of the public safety department and the lack of funding and support for programs to keep the city safe.
Candidates maintained civility throughout most of the night, until they were able to ask each other questions.
Koch said Mahoney was talking out of “both sides of her mouth” by critiquing the administration without providing any concrete plans to fix purported problems.
“We have a record of achievement, Mrs. Mahoney, you still have yet to put a plan forward. I have yet to put a detail down. I’m still waiting,” Koch said.
Meanwhile, Mahoney continually attacked the mayor for hiring what she termed as “political cronies,” bringing up the promotion of City Councilor Daniel Raymondi to a $110,000 DPW Commissioner position. It’s a track record that is needlessly costing the city money, she said.
After the debate, supporters from both sides said the discussions went well.
“They both got points across,” said Mary Ellen Murray, a Koch supporter. “I think Mayor Koch has done a great job, and I’m excited about the downtown.”
“She has the courage to come into a system where there’s an incumbent,” said Robyn Miller, a Mahoney supporter.
Both candidates will face off a second time on Oct. 27, which will be broadcast live on Quincy Access Television at 7 p.m.