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By Hiroko Sato

MediaNews

GROTON — Chris Doherty wants people to know he does not forget where he comes from.

The former prosecutor for the Middlesex assistant district attorney says he wouldn’t have succeeded in his life without quality public education, including the Head Start program.

If elected state senator, “I’m going to fight for the next generation to make sure they will have the same chance I did,” Doherty said.

In the meantime, Eileen Donoghue believes her achievement during her 12-year tenure on the Lowell City Council will speak for what she stands for as a candidate for the state Senate. She helped the city work with the state and federal government and the local business community to build a thriving city, when many believed turning around an old urban center was an impossibility, the Lowell attorney said.

“I’ve done it before,” Donoghue said of creating employment through teamwork. “We can defy the odds again.”

Doherty and Donoghue, two Lowell residents seeking the Democratic nomination for the First Middlesex District Senate seat, touted their political philosophies and experiences Tuesday night at a candidates forum, organized by the town Democratic committees of Groton, Dunstable, Tyngsboro, and Pepperell.

The forum, which also included Democratic candidates for the First Middlesex District House seat, drew several dozen residents to Groton-Dunstable Regional High School.

While answering questions from the audience, the two candidates shared similar views on certain issues, including their support for casinos.

Doherty and Donoghue both said tax revenue from gambling wouldn’t solve the state’s fiscal woes but would help. Donoghue said she was against slot machines because she believes that would not help create jobs. Doherty said he wants to make sure casino locations are controlled, and the tax revenue would be used for school funding and provide tax relief to seniors.

Both candidates also agreed that the state affordable-housing law, Chapter 40B, requires tweaking but should not be repealed.

On the economy, Doherty stressed the importance of stimulating the “green” industry, and pledged to push for retrofitting state buildings to make them energy-efficient. Donoghue said it’s most important to provide support to small businesses, particularly by helping them provide affordable health insurance to their employees.

Doherty said he supports the civil-rights component of the transgender bill, and believes the bill should include hefty fines for those who violate the law. But he is also concerned about how the bill would affect business owners, who have control over bathrooms at their establishments. But Donoghue said the bill would not make it easier for sexual predators to gain access to potential victims.