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MARLBORO — Taxes and job creation were among the chief topics discussed during Tuesday morning’s debate between incumbent state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and his Republican challenger, George Thompson.

Thompson, of Westboro, said if elected he will work to roll back the sales and income tax to 5 percent. While Eldridge countered that cutting back both taxes would only “add to the problem” of the state’s more than $2 billion budget deficit.

“I don’t see how that is going to help balance the budget,” said Eldridge. “I think we need to take a closer look at the problems at hand and study it more closely … and not add to the deficit.”

Around 30 local businessmen and city officials filled the Commonwealth Ballroom of the Courtyard by Marriott Tuesday morning for a breakfast debate for the Middlesex and Worcester district, which encompasses 14 communities in Central Massachusetts, including Shirley. The debate was sponsored by the Marlboro Regional Chamber of Commerce.

While both candidates oppose Question 3, a ballot question to reduce the sales tax from 6.5 percent to 3 percent, Thompson acknowledged that he would approve the proposal if it’s ultimately passed by voters Nov. 2.

“I’m personally against Question 3 because I believe the state’s budget is not stable right now, and I think it’s unwise to support Question 3,” Thompson said. “However, if the electorate votes it in, they are going to want us to follow through.”

Instead of cutting local state and school aid to local communities, Eldridge said he will focus on streamlining government services and exploring corporate loopholes to address the state’s budget crisis.

“My focus is on fair taxation,” said Eldridge. “We need to look at those who are wealthy and make sure they are paying their fair share. … To support reducing both the income tax and sales tax is not responsible.”

The candidates also discussed bringing more jobs to the commonwealth.

Thompson argued that “change is needed” to attract jobs to the state, not lose them.

In the past two years, Eldridge said he’s helped lead the charge in spurring economic development by helping to create “green jobs” statewide and is a strong advocate for investing in infrastructure, such as transportation systems and roadwork.

“The best way to grow our economy and create jobs is by investing in our communities, and I’ll continue to work toward that,” he said.

Before being elected two years ago, Eldridge served as state representative for the 37th Middlesex District since November 2002. He also served as a member of the Acton Housing Authority and was appointed by the Acton Board of Selectmen as a associate Planning Board member in 2001.

Thompson, the former chairman of the Westboro School Committee, is now in his second term as a selectman. He served as the former vice president and managing counsel of the Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. before leaving in 2008 to open his own law practice in Westboro.

The district covers the towns of Acton, Ayer, Boxboro, Harvard, Hudson, Littleton, Maynard, Northboro (Precinct 3), Shirley, Southboro, Stow, Sudbury (Precincts 2, 3 and 5), Westboro and the city of Marlboro.

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