Congressional candidates spar

The two candidates for the U.S. Congressional 8th District seat are painting different pictures of themselves heading into the Nov. 6 election.

Incumbent Stephen Lynch said he is moderate Democrat who tries to work across the aisle, but also is willing to fight Republicans who want to cut social programs for the poor and help millionaires as much as possible.

“I want the best results not only for my district but for the American people,” said Lynch.

His challenger, Republican Joe Selvaggi, said he is a small-business owner who wants to change the tax code and other regulations so businesses can thrive. He said he is concerned with the country’s mounting debt and said that the private sector will lead the country out of the current economic troubles.

“Guys like me get Americans back to work,” said Selvaggi in a recent Gazette interview.

Both candidates said they love Jamaica Plain. Selvaggi said that Centre Street lights up like a carnival at night with interesting shops, and he enjoys running around Jamaica Pond.

“If I had a second home, Jamaica Plain would be it,” said Selvaggi, who is a Beacon Hill resident.

Lynch, who lives in South Boston, noted that he recently was in Jamaica Plain, visiting with the Ward 19 Democratic Committee. He said the Casey Overpass was the topic of much discussion, with people split 50-50 on what to be done with the aging bridge. Lynch does not have an opinion, saying he’s coming to the discussion after its fate has already been decided.

Selvaggi, who was born in New Jersey but came to Boston shortly after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, owns Plaster Fun Time. The company hosts birthday and other parties where plaster pieces, such as penguins and trains, are made available for painting.

He said that small businesses create two out of three new jobs and that he knows how to spur job growth.

“I’m a small-business owner. I understand how jobs are created,” said Selvaggi. “A person has to be worth more than they are paid. Stephen Lynch is totally different. He’s an ironworker, a member of big labor. He believes government is the source of wealth.”

Lynch, who said he hasn’t seen Selvaggi that much on the campaign trail and doesn’t have a sense of who he is and what he is about, noted that he is a legislator and a lawmaker.

“I don’t know how he is going to create jobs by himself,” said Lynch in a recent Gazette interview, pointing out that it takes 218 votes to pass legislation in the House.

Selvaggi also criticized Lynch for not having any legislation bearing his name since 2003, to which the congressman responded that legislation bears the chairman’s name of the committee from which it came.

Lynch used the recent Dodd-Frank bill, which focused on financial reform, as an example of that and said he was able to add a technical amendment to that bill.

“I’ve done a lot of bills like that,” he said.

Selvaggi said he has an uphill battle to climb to unseat Lynch because Democrats outnumber Republicans three-to-one in the state. But he said he can do it if people know they have a choice. He said he has met many well-informed, intelligent people who read the New York Times front to back, but have no idea who their congressman is.

“The challenge is not ideological. The challenge is to get the voters to know they have a choice,” he said.

The 8th District covers parts of Boston and some suburbs south of the city. It covers a greater section of southern Jamaica Plain after the recent redistricting. Democrat Michael Capuano (7th District), who does not face a challenger in the general election, covers the other portion of JP.

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