The challenge of creating jobs in a tough economy was one of many issues the candidates for Massachusetts lieutenant governor addressed during the first of a series of debates hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School.

Taking part in the debate were Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, the Democratic incumbent; Republican Senate Majority Leader Richard Tisei of Wakefield; Independent Paul Loscocco, a former Republican state representative from Holliston; and Richard Purcell, a community activist running with the Green-Rainbow Party.

Moderators were Law Professor Alasdair Roberts and State House News Service General Manager Craig Sandler.

Each of the candidates expressed viewpoints that tended to mirror those of their respective running mates at the top of the November tickets. Topics generating a buzz throughout the spirited 70-minute debate included hunger and homelessness, health care, tax increases, Big Dig overruns, and job creation.

“Massachusetts is the only state in the country that has added jobs seven months in a row,” stated Murray. “Massachusetts is number one in jobs, number one in school systems, and number one in health care.”

Tisei fought back when he replied, “Our current state government isn’t working. We can’t keep heading in the same direction. I have a good perspective of what people think and want.”

This event kicked off the 2010 Statewide Political Races Forum, a series of upcoming debates between candidates running for statewide office, including treasurer and auditor. The Rappaport Center is collaborating on the series with the State House News Service.

Upcoming debates to be held at Suffolk Law include candidates running for state Treasurer - noon to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, October 7 and Auditor - noon to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 12.