Local Government and Politics, News

Diversity is main theme in NSLBA candidates’ forum in Lynn

City Council and School Committee candidates participated in a forum hosted by the North Shore Latino Business Association. (Gayla Cawley)

LYNN — Candidates for City Council and School Committee were given one minute on Monday night to make their case for why they should be elected. 

The candidates forum, hosted by and held at the North Shore Latino Business Association (NSLBA), is one of the last chances for candidates to appeal to voters before the Nov. 5 election.

Twenty-two candidates delivered remarks at Monday’s forum, moderated by NSLBA board chairman Ariel Noesi, with some choosing to speak in both English and Spanish. 

Six candidates, Councilor-at-Large Buzzy Barton, Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi and his opponent William O’Shea, Ward 3 challenger George Meimeteas, and School Committee members Donna Coppola and John Ford, who had a last-minute family emergency, did not attend. 

School Committee member Jared Nicholson could not attend because his wife gave birth earlier to their child earlier in the day, but his recorded remarks, which he delivered in Spanish, were shared by video.

Councilor-at-Large Brian Field, citing the city’s diverse community, which includes a growing Latino population, and in some instances, a language barrier, said it was important to learn more and educate himself to better serve the community. 

Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre, seeking his third term, said the City Council has been trying to move the city forward in a positive way. 

“Our only agenda is your agenda,” LaPierre said. “With your help, we can lead this city and take it to new heights.” 

Councilor-at-Large Hong Net, who is seeking his fifth term, echoed LaPierre’s comments.

“A lot has been accomplished, but a lot more needs to be done,” Net said. 

Joel Hyppolite, a challenger for Councilor-at-Large, wants to bring fresh ideas and a new vision for the city. 

“Working together, I believe we can make a systemic change and a better city for our (children),” Hyppolite said. 

Jose M. Encarnacion, a Latino challenger for Councilor-at-Large, who delivered his remarks in English and Spanish, said the city of Lynn is very diverse, which needs to be reflected in its leadership. 

Lennin Ernesto Pena, a challenger for Councilor-at-Large, who also delivered his remarks in both languages, claims to be the first Hispanic employee at the Lynn Water & Sewer Commission. 

“I want to represent a majority part of the community and that’s the Latino population,” Pena said. 

Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard joked that although he’s the only candidate running unopposed, it was still important for him to garner support from voters so he didn’t lose to blanks on the ballot. 

Ward 3 Councilor and City Council President Darren Cyr, who has served for 14 years, said his efforts were instrumental in the construction of a new Thurgood Marshall Middle School, a $100 million project that serves as a standard for other communities. 

Ward 4 Councilor Richard Colucci pointed out his wife is Dominican and cited his record of helping Latino businesses. 

Natasha Megie-Maddrey, a challenger for Ward 4, said she believes she can make a difference in Lynn. An African-American woman, she said diversity is very important. 

“I believe I can use (my law degree) to help ensure we bring more money into the city,” she said. 

Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis cited public safety as the city’s No. 1 concern and said the city’s neighborhoods need to be improved, there needs to be more job creation and its elderly needed to be taken care of. 

Her opponent, Marven Hyppolite, said he was running for the Ward 5 seat for a third time because he believes Lynn is in desperate need of change. 

“A lot of things are happening in the city that are affecting your life,” Hyppolite said. “I’m running to make sure the power is back in your hands.” 

Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan called himself a proud member of the NSLBA, who has worked with the organization to help Latino businesses in his ward, which has included license renewal. 

Cinda Danh, a challenger for Ward 6, said she’s the daughter of Cambodian Genocide survivors, whose family immigrated to the country in 1988. Because of that persecution, her family didn’t realize that the government in the United States was supposed to work for them. 

Ward 7 Councilor John “Jay” Walsh, a Lynn Vocational Technical Institute graduate, said he worked as a plumber for General Electric for 16 years, but recently left the company to work for his father’s oil business. He described himself as a “nuts and bolts guy” who is responsive to his constituents. 

Alexis Reynoso, a Ward 7 challenger, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said he’s running because parts of the city aren’t being represented, particularly its large Hispanic population. 

School Committee member Brian Castellanos, a Latino, described himself as a first-generation, low-income college student, who attended the Lynn Public Schools.

School Committee member Lorraine Gately, a teacher in Lynn Public Schools for 33½ years, now teaches at St. Mary’s High School. She cited her involvement in recent district accomplishments, such as providing free meals for all students and improving the quality of school food. 

Michael Satterwhite, a member of the School Committee, said when he ran for the first time two years ago, he considered the district’s biggest issue to be that its student body was not reflected in its teaching staff. 

School Committee challenger Sandra Lopez said she was running because she wanted to represent the parents in the community and provide support to the kids. 

School Committee challenger Tiffany Magnolia, a professor at North Shore Community College, said the structures in place in the diverse district, such as a lack of translation services, are not advantageous to parents, and therefore exclude many families. 

The final candidates forum, hosted by the New Lynn Coalition, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Lynn Museum at 6 p.m.

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