October 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Politics: Election2004 - Funnell: Woonsocketcall: By now Brazil RPCV David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Brazil: Peace Corps Brazil: The Peace Corps in Brazil: October 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Politics: Election2004 - Funnell: Woonsocketcall: By now Brazil RPCV David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local

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By now Brazil RPCV David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local

By now Brazil RPCV David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local

By now Brazil RPCV David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local

Funnell, Callahan joust for TV
JOHN LARRABEE, Staff Writer 10/27/2004
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BLACKSTONE -- By now David Funnell probably wishes he could bury that old adage that all politics is local.

Funnell, an Uxbridge Republican who hopes to unseat state Rep. Jennifer Callahan, is talking up the hot-button issues that separate conservatives from liberals. He is opposed to abortion, gay marriage, government regulation of business and Massachusettsí 5.3 percent income tax rate.

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None of those topics were on the table, however, when Funnell showed up for a live interview on local-access cable TV. Curmudgeonly host John Eldridge quizzed him about state housing laws, cuts in state aid to local schools, cuts in state funds for road repairs and other favorite gripes of town officials.

When the candidate responded with a confused look, Eldridge moved in for a knock-out punch.

"Do you live in a cave?" he squawked.

Those few minutes of videotape could be a primer for anyone hoping to run for the Legislature. Presidential aspirants can toss out sound bytes on Vietnam and gay rights, but from candidates for the Legislature, voters expect to hear about school budgets and the local property tax rate.

In the 18th Worcester District, which includes Sutton, Uxbridge, Millville, Blackstone and Bellingham, theyíre getting both perspectives.

Callahan, a Sutton Democrat, avoided taking any position when state lawmakers debated same-sex marriage. She prefers talking about her efforts to stop a sprawling housing development, on Blackstoneís rustic Elm Street, and the ongoing bridge repair project in Millville.

Funnell is hoping his views on broader issues will resonate with voters.

"A lot of people in this district are social conservatives, and Jennifer Callahan cannot represent them on social issues," he says. "Iím the pro-life candidate. Iím also against the marriage of a man to a man and a woman to a woman."

While Funnell has scant experience with local government, he has a record of public service as a Peace Corps volunteer. Heís also a small businessman (his company repairs surgical instruments), which he believes would help make him a good representative.

None of that impressed Eldridge, however, during Tuesday nightís interview.

In his trademark rat-tat-tat style, the talk host fired off questions about Chapter 70 funds (thatís state aid to local schools) and Chapter 90 funds (state aid for road repairs). Funnell had to admit he was confused by the jargon.

"Iím just a candidate whoís sat in on a few town meetings," he said.

A moment later the call-in phone began ringing. Eldridge needed no help making the candidate squirm, but an anonymous caller had joined in all the same.

"He came to my house and started talking about Reagan economics," the caller said. "I donít know what that has to do with the district."

Funnel fumbled for a response. "Iím not interested in putting up a phony image that I know everything when I donít," he said.

Eldridge then jumped to the subject of the stateís affordable housing law, which allows a developer to circumvent zoning and other local regulations if some lower-priced housing units are included in a project. This law, aimed against so-called snob zoning, kicks in if a community does not have much affordable housing. When Eldridge referred to the statute as "40b" -- as itís labeled in law books -- Funnell again looked flustered.

"Youíve got to learn this stuff," Eldridge said, adopting the tone of a stern schoolmaster. "Listen to me."

Callahan, who formerly served on the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee in Sutton, was ready for all the questions when she entered the studio. She did most of the talking, with Eldridge interjecting an occasional "yes."

The first-term politician told how she brought state transportation officials out to the district for an up-close look at aging bridges and roadways. She boasted she made calls "every couple of weeks" to keep town officials appraised of how much state aid they could expect.

"In my two years in office, I moved almost $18 million in road and bridge projects out to bid," she said. "Thatís my job."

To Eldridgeís delight, she joined him in railing against "40b," the affordable housing law. She told her audience the House passed an amendment that would give local officials more authority when dealing with developers, but that the measure stalled in the state Senate.

"I was terribly disappointed the Senate didnít take it up," she said. "We all know thatís a law that needs to be amended."

Outside the studio, Funnell could only sigh with frustration.

"Itís not a measure of my competence to throw things at me and expect an answer in two seconds," he said. "It was a bludgeoning I donít think I deserved."


©The Call 2004





When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Woonsocketcall

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Brazil; Politics; Election2004 - Funnell

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