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Candidates deliver 60 second pitches to Latino association

Candidates for Lynn School Committee, City Council, City Council at Large, and Mayor spoke to a packed crowd at the North Shore Latino Business Association on Thursday night for the Special Candidates Night. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — Gone in 60 seconds.

That’s how long candidates for mayor, city council and school committee had to make their case to the North Shore Latino Business Association (NSBA).

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy was done in 10 seconds after telling the crowd she had to get to her fundraiser across town and passed out her statement.

“When I assumed office in 2010 … we had no Latinos or Spanish speakers employed at City Hall … eight years later … I have hired Latinos for positions in many city offices … In his two decades in the Legislature, how many Latinos has Senator McGee hired for his staff and in what positions?” she said.

McGee, who is seeking to deny the mayor a third term, told the group he lives in the home he grew up in and has served in the Legislature for 23 years.

“I love this city, I believe in this city and I think the opportunity for the city to move forward is engaging people throughout the community together,” he said. “The growth of jobs in Lynn is in this room. The small business owners in the Latino community are creating jobs and opportunities for the better … as your mayor, your issues and voice will be heard at City Hall.”

Political analysts say the city’s Latino vote could make the difference this election year as the number of immigrants from Latin nations has swelled to nearly 40 percent.

Frances Martinez, president and CEO of the NSBA, welcomed 22 candidates who packed the nonprofit’s office in the downtown. Thirty-three total candidates are running for office.

Taso Nikolakopoulos, an at-large councilor candidate, said he was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a child.

“Why vote for me?” he asked. “I am the only one who has worked in the public and private sector and now I am self-employed. It’s important to reach out to the Latino community because they are the new and growing workforce and we have to embrace it.”

Incumbent City Councilor-at-Large Hong Net said he has served for six years and is proud of the work he’s done.

“I want to continue the work we’ve done and stand with you as we raise our families together,” he said.

City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre said he has always been an NSBA supporter.

“When Frances Martinez comes to City Hall advocating for Latino businesses, I have always supported her efforts,” he said. “It’s so important to grow new business. Her credibility and the association’s credibility lends itself for my support for you … I will fight for you every day. My time is up, please vote for me.”

Brian Field, an at-large candidate, said he will be a voice for everyone.

“I am asking for your support,” he said. “Please consider me and Go Patriots.”

John Ladd, a councilor-at-large challenger, said as a real estate broker and a business owner, he will bring these skills to City Hall.

“I am looking to bring my skills to improve the quality of life in Lynn and working closely with you,” he said.

Jaime Figueroa, a candidate for at-large, spoke in Spanish and said he is committed to making sure the Latino businesses do not get displaced as new development comes to the city.

“We need to protect our businesses so that Lynn maintains its rich diversity that makes this city so great to live in,” he said.

Richard Ford, another at-large candidate, said he served 18 years as the councilor from Ward 7.

“I’ve taken Spanish classes twice, but I can’t seem to get the hang of the language,” he said. “I’m a third generation Lynner and I want to work with you.”

Brian Castellanos, a candidate for School Committee, told the association he was a social worker for the state Department of Children & Families.

“I am committed to expanding diverse youth programs,” he said.

Elizabeth Rosario Gervacio, another School Committee challenger, said she has worked for several nonprofits and will bring her experience to the schools.

Natasha Megie-Maddrey said she has five children and knows a thing or two about the needs of the public schools.

“The reason I decided to be a candidate is as a parent I know how it feels to be involved,” she said.

Jared Nicholson, seeking another term on the School Committee, told the group in Spanish that he wants to return to office because great schools are essential for all children.

“It’s very important to our city’s hope for growth,” he said.

School Committee candidate Jessica Murphy kept it simple.

“We all need to step up and get involved,” she said.

Michael Satterwhite, another challenger for School Committee, said his experience as an immigration lawyer will be of help to the city.

“I am for kids, I have always been an advocate for kids,” he said.  

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi said the city has seen lots of changes as Latinos get more involved with great businesses.

“I’m seeing lots of good movement and we need to continue that trend,” he said.

Ward 2 Council candidate Peter Grocki said there’s lots of room to improve the ward.

“I am sick and tired of what’s going on in Ward 2, I heard gunshots in the neighborhood,” he said.

Gina O’Toole, who is also vying for the seat, said she will give up her job as a teacher’s aid in the Lynn Public School to be a full time councilor.

Chris Magrane another Ward 2 candidate, said he is different from all the other candidates.

“I use the word we,” he said. “The city has forgotten all of us and we deserve better.”

Marven Hyppolite, who is trying to unseat Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, got the loudest applause when he said: “We can’t have change unless we have a seat at the table.”

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