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State Rep Hopefuls Claim Independent Mantel at Forum

Final face-to-face meeting between three seeking the "ABC" district has one candidate believes the race is down to two; others disagree.

In the long-running game show "To Tell the Truth," three contestants would identify themselves as the same person with a peculiar experience and it was up to the panel of guest stars to correctly identify the player from the two impostors.

In a similar vein, the voters in the 24th Middlesex House of Representatives District are being asked by the three candidates seeking to become their state representative to correctly ID the one who is the true independent in the race.

At last night's forum sponsored by the Belmont League of Women Voters held in the Chenery Middle School auditorium, Dave Rogers, Jim Gammill and Tomi Olson each attempted to convince registered voters that once elected, they would not abandon them for outside interests or the allure of personal gain in the State House.

Running as the independent in the three person race, Gammill proclaims that after 35 years as a democrat party activist, he became "fed up with the partisanship had done to our political life."

"What we need is true independence," he noted, saying that 40 years of one party rule in Massachusetts has destroyed any sense of balance, competition and legislative due process.

"I will be there as a servant for you, to be an honest witness" to the messy work up on Beacon Hill, he said.

But Rogers would not concede to the Belmont resident the large un-enrolled voters segment without a fight.

"There is no independent party in Massachusetts but the key is the way you think and the way you act," said Rogers.

"I'm a first-time candidate from outside the system with new ideas. I bring independent thinking to the race," he added, refusing to easily give up the mantel of independence to Gammill "just because he called himself an independent."

And Olson also sounded her own call to claim at least a chunk of the district's independents.

"I am fiercely independent and am not easily swayed by group think" such as seen in the legislature, said Olson.

"I never only looked at one side of an argument. I am independent enough to realize that you can't be productive at the State House with that approach," she said.

When a member of the public asked the candidates what distinguished them from their election rivals, Gammill returned to the theme of the night.

"I am the independent. There are 89 of the 160 races with no competition. I am bringing a credible challenge so I can bring back democracy in the State House," he noted.

"You can't be that independent voice as one of 140 representatives," said Gammill, referring to Rogers.

Rogers, in turn, said being an independent would prevent Gammill from being "in the room" when negotiations are being made on important issues.

Down to two?

And with less than a fortnight remaining until the election, one candidate believes voters have decided the election is between two, not three, of those on the ballot.

Gammill said the election to fill the vacancy in the Massachusetts House created when Will Brownsberger was elected to the State Senate in January has come down to a battle between him and Rogers, the Cambridge Democrat seeking the seat.

"All of our calling in and canvasing tells us that this has become a two-person race and if you take a look at any other measurable sign of activity in the race you can only come to that conclusion," said Gammill to Belmont Patch after the forum.

Belmont's Gammill also believes he holds an edge in the race being a long-time homeowner in the largest town in the "ABC" (Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge) District.

"Dave has worked very hard for the past months but this is his first experience in Belmont and Tomi and I have been around for 10,000 days each and there is a lot that you pick up in that time about the people and their interests," said Gammill who celebrated his 59th birthday at the forum.

For his part, Rogers said it would be "a little disrepectful" for Gammill to ignore Republican challenger Olson from Belmont.

"I seeking the vote of everyone out there; democrats, the unenrolled and republicans. I have strong ideas that will help the community and that is what this is all about," said Rogers.

"I'm still in this race. I have had very successful public events and I feel good about my chances," said Olson.

The three challengers took to the stage on Wednesday, Oct. 24, for the League's Candidates' Night and soon discovered the League's format of limiting answers to one minute created a hybrid of political debate meets speed dating, forcing each candidate to be quick, know their lines and be upbeat.

Public questions ranged from how to pull Massachusetts out of the slow recovery effecting the nation, what committees they wanted to be appointed on and support for bicyclists.

Reruns of the debate will be shown on Belmont Media Center cable access.

carole williams October 27, 2012 at 02:14 PM
In a display of complete ARROGANCE Mr. Gammill has clearly expressed his inappropriate attitude toward women in comments dismissing Tomi Olsen’s authenticity as a viable candidate for the open State Representative seat! Women and men in all 3 communities should take note right now of Mr. Gammill’s conceited and prejudice outlook... ! Clearly our district needs to take advantage of an opportunity to elect a caring, experienced, most qualified, and independently-minded women named Tomi Olsen.
Angelo Firenze October 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I am disappointed to see that Mr. Gammill has taken the dismissive and arrogant position of writing Ms. Olson off so quickly. Tomi is a qualified candidate that can bring much to the district as our State Rep and who has substantial support for the position in our community. She is a tough campaigner who can win.
Maryanne Jefferson October 27, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Jim Gammill has a lot of nerve! First he misrepresents the facts about committee assignments. His claims that he gets his choice of committee assignments as an Independent are a pipe dream and nothing more than a bold face lie. As an independent he'll have to caucus with one of the 2 parties, because the party leaders give committee assignments. So as an Independent he'll have to go beg for a committee assignment. And now he claims this is 2 man race between him and Jim Rogers. The truth is this is a race with 3 candidates but there are only two visions. Tomi Olson stands with the taxpayers, the people, the middle class, women, and FREEDOM. Jim Gammill is and Dave Rogers both stand with big government, big business, and big public employee unions. They stand for high taxes. Gammill even wants to raise the gasoline tax! He's no Independent. For 35 years he's been on the far left. Like Rogers he's a Washington insider, part of the big government bureaucracy, that wastes money, fights a war on job creators, and has given us this stagnant economy. Gammill's assertion that this is now a 2 man race, only proves he ran as an Independent only because he didn't have the guts to run in a Democrat primary. He just wanted to avoid the primary and face off against the Democrat nominee. He wasn't counting on a Strong Republican woman who is an independent thinker, who has given decades of service to the Community, who has real experience helping people solve real life problems.
carole williams October 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM
carole williams 10:14 am on Saturday, October 27, 2012 In a display of complete ARROGANCE Mr. Gammill has clearly expressed his inappropriate attitude toward women in comments dismissing Tomi Olsen’s authenticity as a viable candidate for the open State Representative seat! Women and men in all 3 communities should take note right now of Mr. Gammill’s conceited and prejudice outlook... ! Clearly our district needs to take advantage of an opportunity to elect a caring, experienced, most qualified, and independently-minded women named Tomi Olsen. Reply Angelo Firenze 11:52 am on Saturday, October 27, 2012 I am disappointed to see that Mr. Gammill has taken the dismissive and arrogant position of writing Ms. Olson off so quickly. Tomi is a qualified candidate that can bring much to the district as our State Rep and who has substantial support for the position in our community. She is a tough campaigner who can win. Reply
Matt Sullivan October 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Like the previous people, I too am surprised by the remarks made by Jim Gammill. Prior to meeting Jim last spring I had no idea who he was. Probably because he wasn't involved in town until recently. I've known Tomi Olson for over twenty-five years now and know how much she CARES about BELMONT! Vote for the Person not the PARTY! Join me in supporting Tomi Olson for State Representative.
LM October 30, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I have known Tomi for several years, and her passion towards Belmont and its citizens is unquestionable, as evidenced by her numerous and long-tenured service on various committees and initiatives in Belmont. Jim Gammill is basically writing her off and with that simple action, showing that he is willing to step on anyone he perceives as a non-equal. In contrast, Tomi is a strong and committed force, with a proven track record helping her constituents, whether it is the Council on Aging or the Traffic Advisory Committee and any of the other groups she continues to help. She will advocate for those who cannot fend off for themselves, and I have always found her to drive balance and listening to both sides before any action is taken. That is what we lack and what we sorely need. Jim has shown us his total lack of respect for the entire Election process. Whatever happened to the “Voice of the People” process we humbly call "voting" ?
Frankie Lombardo October 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM
If Tomi were not in this Race it would be a one party race, Since Gammill is a democrat in Independent clothing. Tomi is the Real voice for us, you think Gammill will compromise with Republicans in the state house? Gammill is only trying to cut Tomi out. Because He is afraid of her

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