LYNN — Next month’s preliminary election will eliminate three candidates seeking the Ward 6 city councilor seat.
Fred Hogan, who was selected by the City Council in January to fill the term vacated by state Rep. Peter Capano (D-Lynn), is seeking a full term on the panel. Capano held the seat for 12 years before being elected to the state legislature.
To keep his seat, Hogan will have to fend off four challengers, Donald Castle, Cinda Danh, David Ellis and Jimmy Gonzalez. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the Sept. 3 preliminary will move onto the city’s general election in November, where the race will be decided.
Hogan, a Grade 2 wastewater operator and site safety coordinator for the Lynn Wastewater Treatment Plant, is touting his commitment to the job and accomplishments since taking office, while his competition spoke of the need for change and new leadership in the city.
Hogan, 49, is a Lynn Classical graduate and one of the co-founders of Lynn’s Stop the Violence initiative. He coached football and basketball in the city for 25 years, including stints as head coach for the Lynn English girls’ basketball team, and as an assistant at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and Classical.
The community activist bills himself as a hard worker who became interested in running for the seat because he wanted to make a difference in his ward, city and community.
“Since January when I got on, I attended every single City Council meeting,” said Hogan. “I’ve answered every single one of my phone calls and have been available to constituents 24/7. I will work with them on any issues that come our way.”
His main focus, he said, has been on renovating and fixing up the city’s dilapidated parks, which has been ongoing this summer and included putting in two new basketball courts and a new playground at Warren Street Playground. That has been important, he said, because it makes people feel good about where they live.
Another priority is improving public safety by securing funding to put more cops on the streets and keeping violence down.
But the major issue facing Ward 6, Hogan said, is flooding, which he’s hoping is alleviated by a 13-year, $200 million combined sewer outflows project, which is likely to start in June 2020 and includes work in West Lynn and the downtown. In the meantime, he’s been working to clean catch basins to try to bring some relief for residents.
Castle, 52, assistant chief probation officer in Suffolk Superior Court, was the only other Ward 6 contender to garner any support from the City Council in January. But he said being passed over for the seat didn’t faze him because he’d rather be elected by the people of Ward 6, than by politicians.
“My whole theme is we need to shake things up. We need a change and business as usual isn’t working,” Castle said. “There’s some wonderful candidates. I just think if people compare all of us, my experience, leadership and education stands out in the crowd.”
Castle is a graduate of Lynn Classical, the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Massachusetts School of Law. He’s the founding member of Protect Our Reservoir — Preserve Pine Grove, a grassroots organization that helped defeat a $188 million plan for two new middle schools two years ago.
He’s for new schools, he said, but the group took issue with the proposed location and environmental impacts of the site. The best place for a new Pickering Middle School is the existing school’s current site at Conomo and Magnolia avenues. Another issue, Castle said, was that the process wasn’t transparent and didn’t include the community.
Castle said, if elected, he would push for the council to approve a complete audit of the city’s finances. He’s against multiple recreational marijuana shops being placed in Ward 6 and thinks they should be more spread out throughout the city. He also cited flooding as a major concern in the ward.
Danh, 28, a government relations specialist at PretiStrategies of Boston, which bills itself as an “elite team of experienced leaders in government relations, public affairs and communications,” is the youngest candidate in the race, but she sees it as an advantage.
Since she’s started campaigning, Danh, a first-time political candidate, said she’s had so many young people from across the city tell her that she’s been an inspiration and that they can now see themselves in government. That feedback matches the reason she decided to run for the seat. It also doesn’t hurt that her youth means she’ll have more energy for the job, she said.
“I’m running because I know exactly what it’s like to not have a voice in government,” Danh said. “I’ve since then taken the time to gain the experience and knowledge I need to move the (government) forward. I want everyone to know they have a voice and their voice holds power.”
A Lynn Classical and University of Massachusetts Boston graduate, Danh is the daughter of Cambodian Genocide survivors who immigrated to the United States in 1988. She’s worked as an intern and legislative aide to former Lynn state representative Steven M. Walsh and chief of staff to Rep. Jim O’Day of Worcester. Locally, she recently founded the Faces of Lynn Magazine.
Like her fellow candidates, Danh said flooding was one of the major issues in the ward, but she also hears about how there’s not a lot of food sources for young people and that the area needs to be cleaned up.
City-wide, she said a major issue is a lack of affordable housing and that there needs to be a focus on equitable economic development. She’s in favor of the city adopting an inclusionary zoning provision.
Ellis, 60, who serves on the Lynn Water and Sewer Board of Commissioners, is touting himself as the only candidate with years of experience on the job, which he believes will make a difference. He served for 12 years as a Ward 6 councilor.
“I decided to run because I could see that my experience (as the) most experienced councilor was needed again, with the amount of drugs and crime issues we’ve been dealing with,” Ellis said. “Ward 6 is somewhere that I have my heart for the community and for the neighbors and I’d like to see it get the resources that are needed and the enforcement of ordinances.”
Public safety is a major issue in the ward, Ellis said, citing the drug epidemic, crime and more resources that are needed for the police department.
As a member of the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission, Ellis said he’s been involved with the CSO project process, and has been advocating for flood relief.
A Lynn Tech and North Shore Community College graduate, Ellis has worked for General Electric, the Essex County Registry of Deeds and as a real estate agent. He’s coached youth sports in the city, including Challenger Little League for children with physical and emotional disabilities.
Gonzalez, 73, is a retired factory worker who said he’s been waiting to run for Ward 6 for years. When Capano left the job, Gonzalez finally saw his opportunity to run. He ran for an at-Large seat about a decade ago. He didn’t win, but he got a lot of votes, he said.
“I would wait and wait and wait,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t want to run against Capano because he was a friend of mine. A lot of people like me and I’ve been working in the community for so many years. I feel it’s very possible (for me to win) because I have a lot of friends. I have the friends so I don’t need to spend a lot of money.”
Gonzalez, who received his GED from North Shore Community College, said he’s lived in Lynn for 43 years and his community involvement has included stints as a member of the Lynn Community Health Center, My Brother’s Table and St. Joseph’s Church. He currently sits on the Lynn Park Commission.
He said he’s passionate about fixing streets in the ward and cleaning up the area. He cited flooding as a major issue and cited his involvement through the Park Commission with the approval of a land swap to allow the construction of a $20 million pump station at McManus Field. The land swap also required approval from the Conservation Commission, City Council and state legislature.
All of the candidates said they felt optimistic about their chances, but Danh is leading the pack in terms of funds raised. She has $14,818 in the bank, but unlike the others, many of her donations are from out of town. Hogan is second with $9,840, Castle has $4,502, Ellis has $301 and Gonzalez is last with $175, according to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance.