Newton, Mass. Mayoral Campaign Ad Sparks Conversation of Class and Gender

In a race that has been largely positive and above board, the candidates for mayor in Newton, Massachusetts, are clashing.

It all started with a newspaper ad. Candidate Ruthanne Fuller says she was shocked to read how her opponent, Scott Lennon, described their differences. In the full-page ad, he wrote, "I am the only candidate who has continuously held a full-time job for the last 20 years."

Fuller, a Harvard MBA who has worked a combination of full time, part time and non-paying jobs as she raised three children, took the statement as an attack.

"It matters when we, as women in particular, read that we are not valued because we haven't worked full-time," she said.

"I'm saddened by that, if it was misinterpreted, taken out of context, that was not the intent of the ad," he said. "It was a poor choice of words. And I'll take responsibility for that."

Lennon's campaign manager, Jean Weinberg, a self-described lifelong feminist, says Fuller has pulled the gender card because the race is close. She says Lennon was only trying to highlight how he is different from Fuller -- his 20 years experience in city government, that he is a lifelong Democrat and that he sent his children to the public schools.

Those are points that Fuller supporters like Gail Deegan say are thinly-veiled references to class.

"There's a perception that there are parts of the city that are more wealthy than others, and therefore, they will have a certain set of agendas on the other side and that troubles me greatly," she said.

Lennon says he is proud of the 1,600 lawn signs he has throughout the entire city of Newton and that issues of class and gender had nothing to do with his ad.

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