Kassner quizzed on guns, taxes

Gun Rights
kristin kassner forum
Democrat Kristin Kassner at Friday evening’s forum in Ipswich

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IPSWICH — Although some of it sounded like a Democratic rally, there weren’t many “rah rahs” in the corner of the room where Dan Kelly sat.

Chair of the Ipswich Republican Town Committee, he introduced himself late in the evening and made an appeal for bipartisanship.

Hosted at Gathr on Friday evening, the event was held by the Democratic Town Committee as a town-hall-type forum for Kristin Kassner. Organizer Carol Bousquet had invited two high school students, two business people, and two representatives from the Council on Aging to bring their questions.

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Kassner is taking on Republican Lenny Mirra in the Nov. 8 election for the 2nd Essex seat in the statehouse.

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Businesswoman Ann Orcutt wanted to know Kassner’s position on referendum Question 1, which would add a new four-percent marginal tax rate to income over $1 million.

Orcutt worried about people who have built businesses and are ready to sell and retire or those who inherited money.

“We just work too hard to be hit again with more taxes,” she said.

Kassner said the tax is not on businesses but on personal income. In an email after the event, she said a business sale or inheritance would be taxed just once in the year it happened.

Question 1 leaves the current five-percent state income tax unchanged but would tax additional income over $1 million and earmark the money for education and transportation.

The other businessperson, Chub Whitten, said former Rep. Brad Hill, a Republican, was given an A grade by the NRA.

“My opponent has a pretty good rating, too,” Kassner said of Republican Lenny Mirra. The NRA also gave him an A grade, she said.

Studying at Pingree, Mackenzie Holian expressed disquiet about potential school shootings. She said holding active shooter drills is the wrong approach and “prioritizes guns over the safety of students.”

Kassner agreed and said her approach is, “If it hurts people, why are we doing it?”

People first

A native of Winchester now living in Hamilton, she said she wrapped up her high school years when school shootings were starting to become more common. She said if the country had gun laws like those in Massachusetts, there would be 50% fewer shootings.

A student at Ipswich High School, David Seaton, asked Kassner if she would extend the right to vote to 16-year-olds.

Kassner said she would for local elections, adding that she encourages young people to become involved in civic affairs.

Her potential constituency is newly formed due to redistricting after the election. It includes Georgetown, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Hamilton, and Topsfield’s first precinct.

The current district is the 4th Essex and is represented by Jamie Belsito of Topsfield. However, redistricting split Topsfield, and Belsito lives in Precinct 2, just a few doors down from Precinct 1.

A Georgetown resident, Mirra represents the current 2nd Essex, but that is set to undergo radical changes, which means he is a new name in Rowley, Ipswich, Hamilton, and Precinct 1 in Topsfield.

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