Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn ward councilor candidates debate crime, finances

Lynn's ward councilor candidates debate for the first time this election season at the Lynn Community Television headquarters. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — Eleven candidates vying for a seat on the City Council spoke on how to reduce violence in the city, address resident concerns, and how they would bring money in without burdening the taxpayer during a forum Wednesday night. 

Each contested ward race was represented and hosted by Lynn Community Television. Only Ward 3 challenger George Meimeteas could not attend because of a death in the family. Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard is running unopposed and did not participate. 

Candidates agreed that violence is a major problem in the city, with Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis calling public safety the most important issue. She said education starts at home, with teaching kids the difference between right and wrong. 

Her opponent, Marven Hyppolite, said the violence seen now in the city is the manifestation of years of neglect. Many people don’t have the resources to deal with their trauma. The city should seek more grants to provide that funding, he said. 

“I don’t think it’s about educating our kids — that’s a part of it,” Hyppolite said. “It’s about making people feel loved (and) giving them the resources they need to deal with their issues.” 

Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan, a founding member of Stop the Violence Lynn, said the right approach is to be proactive, rather than reactive with working to reduce violence, something he’s done through working with youth in the city for years with the organization. 

His opponent, Cinda Danh, said there needs to be proactive leadership, in terms of providing tools and resources for youth to prevent violence. 

Two candidates, Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi and Ward 7 Councilor Jay Walsh, suggested bringing back community policing to prevent crime. 

“The community police officers would come up on bikes, would talk to the kids and gain respect,” Walsh said. 

Ward 4 Councilor Richard Colucci’s answer was simple. 

“Do the right thing and don’t get in trouble,” he said.

Several candidates said their constituents or residents they meet on the campaign trail are most concerned about neighborhood concerns, such as the condition of streets and sidewalks. The Ward 6 candidates cited flooding as the most pressing concern in that area of the city. They felt being accessible and responding to citizens’ concerns was the solution. 

Candidates had differing opinions on how to bring in money for city resources without burdening the taxpayer. 

Ward 7 challenger Alexis Reynoso said he’d like to see a hotel on the Lynnway to capitalize on its access into Boston, but felt the city needs to work on its image and drug problem before that type of development can occur. 

City Council President Darren Cyr, who’s running for Ward 3, defended the council’s decision to impose a trash fee on residents, saying the $2.7 million raised from that fee goes to pay Lynn’s $7 million trash bill. 

“When people say we’re not putting that money where it came from, that’s completely false,” Cyr said.

In response to Reynoso, he said there’s an effort to bring in hotels. Responding to Ward 1 challenger William O’Shea, who said the city has been waiting to see waterfront development for 20 years and needs to expedite projects, Cyr said there’s ongoing work at the former Beacon Chevrolet site, which will become luxury apartments. 

But Ward 4 challenger Natasha Megie-Maddrey said development is great, as long as all residents are benefiting. Many residents feel they’re being pushed out because of high rents, she said, adding that she was against tax breaks for developers. 

Walsh and Hogan stressed the importance of building a commercial tax base and Lozzi said he felt seeking state grants and funds would bring relief to residents. 

The election is Nov. 5.

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