LYNN — One month after Peter Capano won a seat in the Legislature, candidates are already vying to be Ward 6 City Councilor.
Capano, who will step down from the council in November to represent the 11th Essex District, said if he gets his way, activist Fred Hogan will take over.
“Fred just has a feel for the neighborhood and relationships with the right people in the city,” said Capano. “I think he could hit the ground running and would work well with the rest of the councilors.”
Hogan has been in sync with many of Capano’s priorities, he said. Together, they helped revitalize the Warren Street and Bennett Street playgrounds and proposed plans for the 13-year, $200 million project to separate sewer and rainwater systems, protecting the oceans and other bodies of water from improper discharge, according to a Daily Item report. They are also co-founders of Lynn’s Stop the Violence initiative.
But other candidates also want the seat.
Donald Castle, a founding member of Protect Our Reservoir-Preserve Pine Grove, a grassroots organization that helped defeat a $188 million plan for two middle schools last spring, is interested; David Ellis, who serves on the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission board of commissioners, and Cinda Danh, once a legislative aide to former state Rep. Steven M. Walsh, have told friends they want the post.
Capano said he has also worked with Ellis and Castle and knows they love the ward and Lynn. Each of the three older candidates have strengths and weaknesses and could absolutely get the job done, he added.
Under City Charter rules, if a seat becomes open on the council, the person who came in second gets the job. But in Capano’s case, he ran unopposed in the last election and the council gets to choose by majority vote. The other option is for Capano to hold onto the council seat until next year’s election.
Hogan, who has been a Lynn Public Schools football and basketball coach for 25 years, said he agrees with Capano on many of the issues and has lived in the same Ward 6 home since he was six months old.
Along with fighting to keep the district safe, Hogan said he wants to get residents more involved. If elected, he promised to introduce precinct captains throughout the ward so residents know what’s going on in the ward and can have a say in it.
“I’ve never been a politician in my life but I am the guy that can go out and get things done,” Hogan said. “Pete has been unbelievable, everything you could want in a city councilor. If I were to ever do anything, I would do it the way Pete did things, so him giving me his endorsement is amazing.”
Castle said, if elected, he would fight to fix the ward’s flooding problems and work with Mayor Thomas M. McGee and School Superintendent Patrick Tutwiler to build what he called much-needed new schools for the city.
He has already begun research into the areas that suffer the heaviest flooding, even speaking with residents to get their opinions on the best ways to fix the problem, he said. Castle, who attended Lynn Public Schools, said the city would benefit from an annual meeting to discuss long-term capital needs because it is always in crisis mode, making fixes only after things fall apart.
Castle said he was recently promoted to assistant chief probation officer in Suffolk Superior Court which, he said, has given him much insight over the years. He said he wants to work on the opioid crisis by using some of the tax proceeds from the new marijuana shops and dedicate it to getting more police officers, firemen and trucks, and an office for addiction and substance abuse recovery services.
“Pete has been a wonderful councilor and I would like to emulate him and continue the tradition of how hard he works,” Castle said. “He has been very responsive to me and my family while we’ve lived in this ward. He set a high bar, so those are some tough shoes to fill.”
Ellis did not return calls seeking comment. Danh was unavailable for comment.
Capano, who held the seat since 2005, said whoever gets selected needs to focus on the ward’s severe flooding issues, transforming the vacant land at several General Electric Co. sites, and supporting the relaunch of the ferry on the city’s waterfront.
“I’m in Ward 6, so, as a voter, I would want to vote for someone in favor of the ferry,” he said. “I also want to make sure the combined sewer outflows project gets finished as soon as possible, because it’s not even scheduled right now, and I want support for the youth programs we have in the ward’s neighborhood.”
For his part, City Council President Darren Cyr said he has asked Capano to stay on.
“There are lots of important things coming up this year and we could use his experience, guidance, and knowledge,” he said. “I would love to see him stay.”
He noted that the last two city councilors who were elected to the Legislature mid-term, state Rep. Dan Cahill (D-Lynn) and Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), kept both jobs until the next election.