It has been nearly two years since Barbara L'Italien lost her bid for a fifth term as state representative for the 18th Essex. She's been watching current Rep. Jim Lyons ever since.
Lyons has been watching her, too, in her recent position in the state treasurer's office.
This fall, the two will square off again, as they did in the 2010 general election, when Lyons defeated L'Italien by 1,076 votes.
"I really didn't expect to run again," said L'Italien, who had to leave her job as executive director of Government Affairs for the state treasurer's office to do so. "What spurred me to consider running again was the fact that I was working in State House, so I was able to monitor what the current representative was doing."
There, she watched as Lyons exhibited what she said is a Tea Party tact of "voting down everything."
"He's well outside the mainstream of Republicans, and he was just engaged in these ideological battles which have really isolated him from his own party, and rendered him ineffective," said L'Italien.
Lyons said he's regularly worked with other Republican representatives, and there have been times when he's crossed the aisle and worked with Democrats as well.
Citing efforts he made to reveal details to the public about how much the state pays for health care given to illegal immigrants, Lyons said he worked "with members of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party to get that information."
"I clearly am in there with a focus of adding balance to Beacon Hill, and my positions are in line with the taxpayers of the 18th Essex District, the working families and the struggling businesses," said Lyons.
L'Italien referred to Lyons' recent vote to reject the state's $32 billion budget. Lyons was the only state representative to vote against it. Saying that a rejection of the budget is a rejection of every line of it, including increased local aid, L'Italien said Andover needs "to have a representative working for you in Boston who's willing to work with people in a bipartisan fashion."
In response, Lyons said "this budget did not warrant a vote from me to support the overall budget, because there's so much waste, fraud and abuse still within the budget. We should be able to fund more local aid."
If he is re-elected, Lyons said reducing the state's sales tax to 5 percent will continue to be a priority, as it was part of his platform in his 2010 campaign. L'Italien, if victorious, would continue to oppose any efforts to reduce the tax.
"One of the reasons Andover is able to get an additional $600,000 [in local aid] right now is because those tough decisions were made two years ago" to increase the sales tax to 6.25 percent, said L'Italien. "You can't have it both ways. You can't eliminate revenue sources and expect to have level or above-level funding in the budget."
Lyons believes L'Italien's recent $100,000-a-year position with the state treasurer's office will hurt her with voters. L'Italien sees her work in the position as, in spirit, a continuation of her legislative service. She said she worked to strengthen small business banking partnerships and create a budget transparency website called Open Checkbook.
After deciding to pursue another shot at the 18th Essex seat, L'Italien "quit my job to run for office, because I take very seriously the fact that Andover deserves to have a better representative, to have someone who's going to deliver in the State House."
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This year's election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Andover High School field house and the Andover Senior Center behind the Town Offices, 36 Bartlet St. As Andover's precincts have been redistricted, voters are advised to check the town website to confirm their precinct and polling place, as it may have changed since the last time they voted.