In 2nd Essex, redistricting shifts boundaries east and south | Elections

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Leonard “Lenny” Mirra, of Georgetown, has represented the 2nd Essex district for a decade.

But after redistricting, he’s now introducing himself to voters in four new towns — one of which, Hamilton, is home to his challenger, Kristin Kassner.

Kassner is a political newcomer but with years of experience in town planning and more recently, volunteer service as vice chair of Hamilton’s Master Plan Committee.

The two candidates are on the ballot this fall for the job of representative from a district that was moved south and eastward — a development Mirra wasn’t particularly thrilled about (“a corrupt inside job,” he called it) but one he says he’s ready to face, pedaling his way around Ipswich, Hamilton, Rowley and Topsfield to meet voters he hopes will become constituents.

The new district also includes Georgetown, where Mirra has lived since 2019, and Newbury, which was also part of the former 2nd Essex district.

Democrat Kassner said in an interview shortly after announcing her run last spring that she hopes to take her experience as a town planner in Burlington and use it to help the communities she represents develop goals and strategies to achieve them.

She’s also attuned to the national conversation over issues of reproductive rights and protecting democracy.

“We are at a pivotal time in our history where each decision, each opportunity and each step will determine where we are headed,” Kassner said in a written statement. “We have a choice on how to grow our economy, care for our people, protect the environment and protect reproductive freedoms.”

Republican Mirra, meanwhile, cites both his experience on Beacon Hill, where’s he’s developed a reputation for working with Democrats on bipartisan issues such addressing wastewater pollution in the Merrimack River, as well as his 30 years working in his family-owned construction business.

He too gets questions about the Dobbs decision, pointing to his vote in support of codifying the right to choice in Massachusetts. He’s been asked by some about the 2020 election. “I tell people emphatically that none of our elections were stolen,” Mirra said. All of the investigations “show that Joe Biden won, and that to me is the end of it.”

Both candidates say they believe some critical issues for the district are the need for housing but also the infrastructure to support it, as well as economic recovery.

Both candidates took part in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the North Shore on Tuesday. The forum can be viewed on the organization’s YouTube channel.

Leonard Mirra

Age: 58

Employment: Ran a family-owned construction business

What do you believe you would bring to the office should you be re-elected?

“I bring experience, balance, and a record of bipartisan cooperation to Beacon Hill. I have worked to provide top-notch constituent services. At a time of economic distress, I believe my experience as a legislator is necessary to continue advocating for our district while rejecting bad policies of Beacon Hill insiders that will make our communities less affordable. I never accept any special interest money and so I am beholden only to the voters.”

What are key issues for you?

“We have to make our state, and our region, a more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family. The environment is also extremely important and under duress. Our water resources, particularly the Ipswich River, are under threat. We need experienced leadership that will reject overdevelopment. We need to ensure 100% funding for regional transportation and special education funding. I will advocate for increases in local aid to keep real estate taxes in check.”

Kristin Kassner

Age: 43

Profession: Town Planner

What do you believe you would bring to the office should you be elected?

“Preparing our communities and our people for success means taking a wide lens to understand that everything is interconnected. I have spent my 20-year career as a planning professional bringing people together and taking strategic steps to chart a path that improves us, the environment, and the economy. I have drafted and passed over 100 local regulatory amendments and secured millions in funding for local and regional transportation and capital projects. Strong resilient communities do not happen by accident. I have proven leadership success working with a variety of stakeholders and experience tackling tough issues to build better communities.”

What are key issues for you?

“You have a choice on November 8th. We are at a pivotal time in our history where each decision, each opportunity and each step will determine where we are headed. We have a choice on how to grow our economy, care for our people and protect the environment. My campaign is about supporting people, building a strong future and protecting our freedoms. I will work hard in the Legislature to file legislation to support education, protect reproductive freedoms, help our people access affordable childcare, eldercare, mental health services and housing and help our economy to thrive.”

Material from prior North of Boston Media Group newspaper reports was used in this article.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

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