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'Look at us and look at our pasts'


Spinelli, Fontaine square off in special election forum



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Candidates Gary Fontaine and Larry Spinelli get pre-debate details from John Gatti Sunday evening. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
January 31, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — On Sunday, Jan. 30, voters got their first formal look at Larry Spinelli and Gary Fontaine, the two candidates running for the vacant Town Council seat in the Feb. 15 Special Election.

In several respects, the two men expressed shared views on key local issues, although there were a couple of notable differences.

The first one came up regarding a recent issue — the hiring of the new Department of Public Works Director Thomas Daley, who started Monday, Jan. 31. Fontaine said he objected to the town giving the director a better health insurance split than the 50/50 most employees have received for years, claiming it was "a bad precedent to set and it's going to hurt this town," possibly with future union negotiations.

But Spinelli's view was more nuanced, noting that "the current overall package is costing the town less" than the one paid to former Director Ken Kalinowski. To him, having the flexibility to make such arrangements is necessary because "the town exercises the need for valuable people."

"[It] can change the standard [for other contracts], but you must go after these people" to ensure Southbridge has those qualified to fill key roles, Spinelli said.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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