LYNN — Let the debates begin.
Jaime Figueroa, a candidate for councilor at-large, is calling for five forums where hopefuls can make their case.
“Time to bring the candidates forward to share their ideas and values with the residents of Lynn who so desperately need to hear what they have to say, in order to make an informed decision at the ballot box,” he said in a statement.
The 28-year-old Suffolk University student is one of eight candidates vying for four seats. The field includes incumbents Buzzy Barton, Brian LaPierre, and Hong Net, and challengers Brian Field, Richard Ford, John Ladd, and Taso Nikolakopoulos.
Figueroa said the candidate forums should be about the issues facing the city. They should be held citywide with two on weekends in advance of the final election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, he said.
Field said the more debates the better.
“I can’t wait for the debates,” he said. “It will help voters to decide who can best serve the city.”
In the past, Field said he has participated in debates held by community organizations, including the Lynn Museum.
“I will attend any debate I am invited to,” he said. “They tend to be hosted by a neutral organization, not a specific candidate.”
Ladd said he thinks debates are a great idea.
“We owe it to the residents and the business owners,” he said. “I welcome any amount of debates. People are already doing it online, so let’s have an open forum.”
Barton said he expects there will be a series of debates this fall, given there is a spirited mayor’s race that has pitted incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy against Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn).
“I’ll be at some of the debates if I’m around and miss some others,” he said. “But we don’t need Jaime Figueroa to tell us about debates.”
Nikolakopoulos said he’s surprised no debates have been scheduled.
“I assumed there would have been a debate before next Tuesday’s primary,” he said. “It’s alarming that they haven’t.”
He said there’s talk that the Chamber of Commerce and the North Shore Latino Business Association would collaborate.
“The more the merrier,” Nikolakopoulos said. “Every candidate should attend. If you put a lawn sign on someone’s lawn, you should be able to stand up and answer questions.”
Net said he’s all for the debates, but thinks five may be too many because not all the candidates will show up to all of them.
“Three is sufficient, but if there are five, I will show up at them all,” he said.
LaPierre said he’s on board with a series of debates.
“I engage with voters in Lynn every day at their doors, that’s the best way to keep up with the pulse of the city’s needs on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “I am open to forums any day and anytime. My campaign is built on listening, learning and leading and the feedback I’ve received is what helps me to advocate for the issues that are important to Lynners.”
Ford said five debates would be perfect.
“I have so much experience, I would love to talk about the city, what I’ve done and what I’d like to do,” he said.