The debate between Fishman, Tierney and Tisei, who co-owns a real estate brokerage, unfolded in courteous fashion before a breakfast crowd that filled Cruiseport Gloucester.
Questioned by three Cape Ann editors, the 75-minute discussion — with minimal interruption, over-talking or direct argument — was the final scheduled debate in a contest that has often taken on a brutish aura from efforts by Tisei and his proxies to impugn Tierney’s integrity and even his dignity; they have insinuated he has lied in insisting he was unaware that his wife Patrice was managing the checkbook for her brother’s illicit gaming operation offshore.
Patrice Tierney spent a month in federal prison after pleading guilty to willful ignorance of the criminal enterprise.
Tierney has responded with anger and frustration, variously attempting to define as out of bounds his wife’s involvement in the criminal case aimed at her brother-in-law, and at others to confront it directly.
The charge counter-charge around that courtroom sideshow has worn on Tierney and given Tisei a better than fighting chance to win the bluest of blue states’ North Shore seat.
There was no hint of the sideshow yesterday.
Instead, Tierney reminded the audience that he had delivered for Cape Ann in transportation, education, sewer and water grants and the other municipal subjects linked by mandates — funded and unfunded — to the federal government and Washington, D.C. He reiterated relative mastery of the issues that have convulsed the fishing industry into crisis, recalling that he had voted against the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act which helped constrict catch limits enough that the NOAA declared the groundfishery to have become a disaster.
Tisei showed his bipartisan side in response. “I’m not going to criticize Mr. Tierney on this issue,” he said, adding that he too sees NOAA as an out-of-control agency. “I hope to be a strong advocate,” he also said, noting that he would almost certainly be a member of the majority and could and intends to request a seat on the House Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on fisheries, where he might be able to have an immediate impact.