State Rep Arthur Broadhurst, left, receives an award from Methuen Mayor Bill Manzi for his many years of productive service to the city. Valley Dispatch/Gayle Simone
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

METHUEN — The Methuen Democratic Committee’s annual Spring Breakfast planned to salute State Rep. Arthur Broadhurst, but the occasion turned into an opportunity for those seeking the lieutenant governor’s nomination and Broadhurst’s soon-to-be-vacated rep seat a chance to tout their credentials.

Former Methuen Mayor Sharon Pollard hosted the April 29 event, held at the Methuen Senior Activity Center, and kept the crowd laughing in between the candidates’ speeches.

“We are living in a time of skyocketing gas prices, deficit and war,” Pollard said. “I have one thing to say to that.”

And with that, Pollard held up a T-shirt that said, “I Miss Bill,” on the front of it.

“Take that for what you want,” Pollard said to the laughing crowd.

Current Mayor Bill Manzi welcomed the statewide candidates to the “finest senior center in the Commonwealth.”

“There is nothing more important than Democrats banding together and putting a Democrat back in office,” Manzi said to the delighted crowd.

Worcester Mayor Tim Murray, first-time candidate Andrea Silbert of Harwich, co-founder of the Center for Women and Enterprise; and Dr. Sam Kelley of Cohasset all told the audience why they should be selected as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

“We have a very disengaged, not focused lieutenant governor right now,” Murray said. “She (Kerry Healey) is fighting with the Legislature, not working with them.”

Murray said he’s very active in education and that he is the right candidate to help build education in Massachusetts.

Silva, a wife and mother, is running because she feels the children of today are not receiving a better education than she did when she was in school.

“I’m running for my children and grandchildren. For your children and grandchildren,” Silbert said. “I want what’s best for our kids and I will be out there advocating for them.”

Kelley, who worked with the Clinton administration on health care, discussed what it takes to win the election.

“Courage and determination are needed in the corner office,” Kelley said. “We need credibility in the corner office. And I can give all of those things.”

Pollard said these candidates gave Democrats hope.

The four candidates for Broadhurst’s rep seat — Linda Dean Campbell, Edward Curran, Chris DiBella and Mike Hennison — stepped forward next to discuss why they should be elected to represent the 15th Essex District, which covers all 11 precincts all in Methuen, when Broadhurst leaves office in September to pursue the post of Essex County, Northern District registrar of deeds.

Campbell put children and elders high on her list of priorities, while Curran plans to advocate for the elderly, health care and veterans. DiBella, a lawyer, said he advoactes for people every day and hopes to do the same for the people of Methuen. Hennison said he always thinks about the people of Methuen, but spent his time endorsing Attorney General Tom Reilly for governor rather than talking about his own campaign.

“We have to make sure we elect a Democrat in the corner office,” Hennison said. “I am endorsing Tom Reilly and he is the only man that can win.”

At the end of the speeches, Pollard invited former Sen. James Jajugavand Sen. Steven Baddour up to say a few good things about Broadhurst, the committee’s Democrat of the Year.

“He is a quiet man, but he quickly rose as a leader in the House of Representatives,” Jajuga said of Broadhurst. “He worked hard, worked well with others and more importantly he kept his word.”

Jajuga listed some of the many things Broadhurst did for Methuen during his 14 years serving as a state rep, including new lamp posts, sidewalks and roads after the Malden Mills fire; two new fire trucks for the city of Methuen; four more grammar schools for Methuen to help with the ever growing population; and bringing in $2 million to help build the Loop after the Methuen Mall collapsed.

“As a state representative, you need to understand what the needs are,” Jajuga said. “That is what Arthur Broadhurst does.” Baddour echoed his predecessor’s words.

“So many people took credit for Arthur Broadhurst’s work,” Baddour said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better Democrat of the Year and state representative.”

Baddour also publicly endorsed Reilly for governor in the upcoming November election and said he was attending the breakfast as a representative for Reilly.

“Tom Reilly can win back the corner office for the Democrats,” Baddour emphatically stated.

Broadhurst was given citations from the Mayor Manzi, Congressman Marty Meehan, Methuen City Council Chairman Stephen Zanni, Sen. Baddour, Worchester Mayor Murray and State Rep. Barbara L’Italien.

“You were well respected and well thought of in the House,” L’Italien said. “We’re going to miss you. I would personally like to thank you for everything you have done.”

Broadhurst was his humble self when he came to the podium, declining to take credit for anything he accomplished in 14 years on the job.

“We’ve been fortunate to have two great senators (Baddour and Jajuga),” Broadhurst said. “They live in Methuen and always voiced the needs of Methuen.”

“You made a great representative and I know you will be a great registrar of deeds,” Pollard said.