LAWRENCE – State Rep. Marcos A. Devers and his challenger in next week’s election, Jose Luis Santiago, agree that education, public safety, lowering the unemployment rate and strengthening the economy are the priorities for Lawrence’s 16th Essex House District.
“We have to continue bridging the education gap by not just teaching more math and sciences, but by implementing plans to work with community colleges where graduates can start working and strengthen the middle class,” said Devers, a Democrat.
Santiago, who is running as an unenrolled candidate and has been out of politics for 10 years, said he has talked to many parents with mentally challenged, educationally impaired and autistic children who prefer to home school them instead of sending them to public schools because of the number of students in the classroom is too large.
Santiago said reducing the number of students in the classrooms from 35 to 20 children is one of his goals, if elected.
In September’s Democratic primary elections, Devers defeated Chally Ramos by an overwhelming 83 percent to advance to Tuesday’s election. Devers received 1,482 with Ramos getting 278 votes.
“I decided to run because of the way the city is going. This administration has done an injustice to the community compromising public safety and the school system while state officials have remained silent and our state representative has done nothing about it,” said Santiago, a former Lawrence City Councilor and State Representative.
“I want to be an independent voice representing the community equally,” he said.
The 16th Essex District was expanded in the last redistricting effort to include parts of the south side of the city, with seven precincts in the north and six others in South Lawrence.
Santiago has accused Devers of refusing to have a public debate, but Devers disagrees.
“I would had, but there was no appropriate avenue for it which was formerly organized with a moderator,” he said.