With less than a week until Election Day, New Bedford's two mayoral candidates squared off once again Tuesday night during a debate at Gomes School.

With recent discussion over placing a sober house on Hawthorne Street, the two candidates offered their views on the matter.

Incumbent Mayor Jon Mitchell says the facilities are important, but public input is necessary no matter where the location.

"Every neighborhood should be treated the same. The rights of neighbors and the interest of neighbors should be heard loudly and clearly and should be taken into consideration," Mitchell said.

Challenger Maria Giesta is also in favor of sober houses in the city, but says they must be in the proper areas.

"I do believe a sober house or a halfway house is a business, therefore they should be put in an area for businesses and not in neighborhoods," Giesta said.

The two candiadites also sparred over the state of the city's school system.

Giesta claims the Level Four designation by the state is due to the administration at the top and not a broken system.

"There's clearly a problem in our education system. All of this change, all of these things are happening since this mayor and our superintendent have been in power," said Giesta.

Mitchell defended his adminstration's work on the district's turnaround plan and says he simply inherited a failing school system upon entering office.

"Look back at the MCAS scores in 2011 and we're almost at rock bottom. The reality is that this school system was in very tough shape when I got into office in large part because problems had been ignored," Mitchell said.

The candidates will meet once more Wednesday night at 7pm at the Zeiterion Theater before the November 3 election.

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