By Katy Rogers
One Everett hosted an open forum for voters at the Parlin Memorial Library on Wednesday, Sept. 7, one evening prior to Election Day in Everett.
The goal of the forum was to give residents the opportunity to listen to candidates for State Representative, including incumbent Joe McGonagle and candidate Gerly Adrien. The Primary was especially important, being that both candidates were Democrats, with no further competition from other parties, meaning the winner faced no official competition on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Incumbent State Representative Joe McGonagle, was expected to attend alongside candidate Gerly Adrien, but McGonagle failed to make an appearance at the event. At the time, it was unclear to the more than 85 attendees why State Rep. McGonagle was absent with an apparent lack of explanation.
The event continued without incumbent McGonagle, leaving Adrien to answer the prepared questions independently during the 90-minute session.
While McGonagle ended Election Day with a decisive victory of approximately 60 percent of the vote, his absence at the event the evening before did not go overlooked by the community that expected to hear him speak.
“I wasn’t there,” McGonagle shared with The Independent after his victory the following day. “I’m sorry that I missed it. I had a prior commitment.”
He did not elaborate further on the matter.
At the forum, it appeared the organizers of One Everett were disappointed in McGonagle’s empty seat beside the podium, claiming they did not receive a response from him that indicated he would not attend after notifying him of their plans for the event on August 17.
Since their intent was to create an unbiased opportunity for residents of all backgrounds to listen to the candidates speak, without McGonagle, the event could only highlight Adrien.
“One Everett works to ensure residents have access and inclusion in all aspects of civic life, building a healthy community that insures the issues of economic and social injustices are addressed, and focuses on housing affordability, good jobs, public education, and immigrant rights,” Sam Amado, emcee for the evening, explained. “This debate is a non-partisan debate and One Everett members are neutral with no preference of any of the candidates, so this is more of an educational and informative event for voters.”
The crowd included an ethnically diverse group of Everett residents, and the forum was translated throughout the evening in both Haitian Creole and Spanish, which were amongst prominently spoken languages by attendees. Questions included subjects such as decent jobs, housing affordability, immigrant engagement, public health and safety, and youth opportunities and education. High school students were welcomed to participate in the open forum to learn more about the voting process, and have their voices heard on behalf of their future as potential voters in coming elections. Prior to each question, facts and statistics were shared regarding population and numbers in the community so the candidates could give informed responses.
Adrien expressed her interest in working for Everett citizens by assuring the promised job opportunities from the Wynn casino project are granted to deserving residents, assuring renters have affordable housing options, and promoting a closer sense of community amongst all of the diverse residents in Everett.
State Representative Joe McGonagle said he looked forward to continuing his service to Everett in the State House for the next two years. He celebrated his victory at The Silver Fox, surrounded by friends and supporters.