EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lawrence

WHERE TO VOTE

District A (Prospect Hill)

A1: Parthum School, 255 East Haverhill St.

A2: Parthum School, 255 East Haverhill St.

A3: Rollins School, 451 Howard St.

A4: Essex Training School (Storrow School), 40 Pleasant St.

District B (Plains, North Common)

B1: M.I. Residential Community Inc., 189 Maple St.

B2: Lawlor School, 44 Lexington St., (Park St.)

B3: Leahy School, 100 Erving Ave., (Bruce Street)

B4: Valebrook Apartments, Union and Summer streets

District C (Arlington Neighborhood)

C1: Engine 7 Fire Station, 329 Ames St.

C2: Plains Community Center, 246 Hampshire St.

C3: Brien Building, 355 Park St.

C4: Arlington School, 150 Arlington St.

District D (Tower Hill)

D1: Bruce School, 135 Butler St.

D2: Bruce School, 135 Butler St.

D3: Guilmette School, 80 Bodwell St.

D4: Essex Towers, 18 Franklin St.

District E (South Lawrence West)

E1: Diamond Spring Gardens, One Beacon Ave.

E2: Frost School, 33 Hamlet St.

E3: South Congregational Church, 198 South Broadway

E4: Elderly Housing, 339A Salem St.

District F (South Lawrence East)

F1: So. Lawrence East School, 165 Crawford St.

F2: So. Lawrence East School, 165 Crawford St.

F3: Branch Library, 135 Parker St., (Bailey Street)

F4: Firefighter's Reliefs Inn, One Market St.

Tuesday, Nov. 8
Polls open
7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Click on a race to view more information on the candidates and issues.

ON THE BALLOT
*denotes incumbent

COUNCILOR AT-LARGE
Choose 3, for two-year terms
CANDIDATEVOTES
Frank Moran*4,373
Roger Twomey*3,976
Daniel Rivera*2,929
George Salas2,708
Edwin Rodriquez2,079
Chally Ramos1,288
DISTRICT A
City Council
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Sandy E. Almonte*502
Merrill M. Perkins Jr.408
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
James S. Vittorioso*513
Kemal Bozkurt327
DISTRICT B
City Council
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Estela Reyes823
Grisel Silva526
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Milquicided Santos626
Martina Cruz561
DISTRICT C
City Council
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Kendrys Vasquez641
Jorge Gonzalez290
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Pavel M. Payano672
DISTRICT D
City Council
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Oneida Aquino606
Samual Reyes432
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Francisco Surillo742
DISTRICT E
City Council
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Eileen O'Connor Bernal841
Kathleen Runge545
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Jennifer Ann Cooper1,167
Homayoun Maali166
DISTRICT F
City Council
Choose one, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Marc Laplante*1,030
Randy Jaime489
School Committee
Choose 1, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
James Blatchford973
GLTS School Committee
Choose 3, for two-year term
CANDIDATEVOTES
Denise Perrault3,371
Leo Lamontagne3,304
Abel Vargas3,154
Gary Mannion2,701
Alejandro Feliciano2,620

City Council At Large

There's plenty to fix in this city, but with just one exception, the candidates running at-large for the City Council say what needs fixing most is public safety.

Violent crime has been on an uneven trajectory over the last 10 years, dropping steadily through 2004 and then gyrating up and down through 2008. But most violent crime categories — rape, robbery, assault and homicide — have spiked only up since then, as the ranks of the police and fire departments were slashed by the dozens to help balance the city budget. Over the last 22 months, 16 people were murdered in Lawrence, including a mother and her two teenage children who were shot in their Beacon Projects apartment on Sept. 5.

The statistics have made crime issue number one in every City Council race this year, including the three at-large races at the top of the ballot.

"I will continue to do all that I can to make sure our budget is balanced, and that every dollar that is spent is prioritized with public safety first, putting as many police officers as we can afford on the street," said Councilor Daniel Rivera, running for a second term, when asked to name the top issue in the race.

"Public safety and quality of life issues," two-term incumbent Roger Twomey responded to the same question, also suggesting that cutting crime would help solve other problems, including economic development and unemployment.

The federal and state governments over the last year have funneled more than $7 million in grants to the city to rehire many of the cops and firefighters laid off or whose jobs were eliminated through attrition. But that's created another issue: how to keep them on the payroll when the grants run out in a year or two. Some at-large candidates say the city should return to the state and federal governments to replenish the grants. Others say the city needs to fix the problem itself.

"We will continue to aggressively go after both state and federal grants," said Frank Moran, the City Council's president. "This will require much better communication and coordination with both state and federal elected officials."

"We can't afford to wait until the funds run out to start looking for other avenues to cover the expense," said the Rev. Edwin Rodriguez, who led the failed effort to recall Mayor William Lantigua last year and is running for an at-large seat. He suggested offering more tax breaks to help businesses grow or move into Lawrence, which he said would bring in jobs and opportunity as an alternative to crime.

Most at-large candidates agreed that, along with more cops on the street, economic development is critical to fighting crime. Chally Ramos suggested establishing what he called a job creation commission.

"It will take representatives from the business community, unions, academia and, of course, our local, state and federal (legislators) to come up with ways to bring corporate America to Lawrence," Ramos said.

Alone among the at-large candidates, Ramos said education and then voter fraud are the top issues.

A sixth candidate, George Salas, could not be reached.

Fran Moran

Address: 38 Dartmouth St.

Personal: Married, two children.

Education: Associate's degree in Electronic Technology, RET Institute

Occupation: Real estate manager/investor

Political experience: Two-term City Councilor, currently council president.

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with state and federal grants when the grants run out?

I will continue to advocate with our state delegation and the council to direct all funding opportunities toward public safety. We will continue to aggressively go after state and federal public safety grants. I am committed to returning to the level of funding we once had and growing our public safety budget to meet the demands of this community.

What can be done to reduce Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

Earmark funds through the WIB board, career center and other workforce training programs. We have to attract small businesses to increase our tax base and employment sector. Market this city to attract new businesses and grow existing ones. This cannot happen until we can have a safe city with a climate that is inviting for businesses.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

Is not fair to make comments based on speculation. However, should this happen, we will act accordingly. We cannot let this distract the city from the important work going on right now.

What is the top issue facing Lawrence?

Public safety, education, unemployment, city infrastructure and lack of accountability.

Daniel Rivera

Age: 40

Address: 12 Jefferson St.

Personal: Engaged

Education: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, B.A. in Political Science; Suffolk University, MBA; U.S. Military Police Academy graduate.

Occupation: Marketing Manager, Birddog Solutions, Andover.

Political experience: One-term City Councilor. Economic Development Director for former Congressman Marty Meehan

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with state and federal grants when the grants run out?

I will continue to fight for our fair share of federal and state funding to sustain the public safety officers. Simultaneously, we must work with labor unions to adjust their contracts.

What can be done to reduce Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

Make Lawrence a safe, friendly and welcoming place for businesses. Work with Northern Essex Community College and UMass Lowell to educate and train residents. Showcase our resources and commercial areas as places to build or grow a business.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

If the mayor is indicted and the charges are serious, and it impedes him from doing his job, he owes it to this city to step down. Our charter has clear provisions for the continuance of city government. I cannot speak to steps the state might take in that hypothetical situation.

What is the top issue facing Lawrence?

Public safety. I will continue to do all I can to make sure our budget is balanced and every extra dollar that is spent is spent on public safety first.

Edwin Rodriguez

Age: 59

Address: 234 Haverhill St.

Personal: Married 25 years; three sons; five grandchildren

Education: Master's degree in Urban Ministries; studied at Gordon-Conwell College and Theological Seminary

Occupation: Pastor El Faro Church; radio broadcaster for 25 years

Political experience: Organizer of It's Your Right which failed in its effort last summer to recall Mayor William Lantigua.

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with state and federal grants when the grants run out?

We can't afford to wait until the funds run out to start looking for other avenues to cover the expense. Market the city as a safe place for new businesses and new government installations, which would bring jobs. Offer new businesses short-term tax breaks and other incentives.

What can be done to reduce Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

Attract investment. Make Lawrence secure and comfortable for workers.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

Yes, Mayor Lantigua should step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury. Also, if the 5,232 signatures needed to start a recall referendum are confirmed by the City Clerk, he should step aside as well. The state should allow Lawrence to go forward without any intervention at this point. We are capable of pushing the city forward without Mr. Lantigua or the state.

What is the top issue facing Lawrence?

There are many issues facing Lawrence: Public safety, unemployment, poor leadership and management in the education system, a very bad reputation in the rest of the state and a place full of garbage.

Chally Ramos

Age: 46

Address: 105 Bailey St.

Personal: Single, 2 children

Education: Lawrence High School graduate

Occupation: Crime scene investigator

Political experience: 2010 candidate for state representative

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with state and federal grants when the grants run out?

It is time to look beyond the Lawrence city budget for the answers. We need to examine the city Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to see where we are financially. The city government needs to disclose profitable investments in real estate, pension funds, insurance companies, liquid investment funds, bond financing accounts and corporate stock portfolios.

What can be done to reduce Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

The city needs to establish a Job Creation Commission to create and preserve quality jobs. It will take representatives from the business community, unions, academia and our local, state and federal legislators to come up with ways to bring corporate America to Lawrence.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

The mayor should step aside immediately if he is indicted. The city should have gone into receivership a year and a half ago.

What is the top issue facing Lawrence?

Education and voter fraud.

Roger Twomey

Age: 81

Address: 17 Leeds Terrace

Personal: Married, 2 children

Education: Merrimack College, BA in Economics, Associate's degree in electrical engineering

Profession: Retired Senior Industrial Engineer, Lucent Technologies

Political experience: Two-term City Councilor. Licensing Commission chairman, 2000 to 2006.

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with state and federal grants when the grants run out?

City revenues have to be increased. This can be accomplished by increasing home ownership, aggressively recruiting new businesses and reducing city expenses.

What can be done to reduce Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

Jobs have to be available and jobs are created by businesses. It is the businesses that are the engine for prosperity.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

A person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial. However, If Mayor Lantigua is convicted, he should step down and a control board should be initiated.

What is the top issue facing Lawrence?

Public safety and quality of life issues, mainly cleanliness of the city. Improving these would be an incentive for businesses to settle in our community, which would create jobs and reduce unemployment.

George Salas

Could not be reached

District A

Ask residents of the Prospect Hill section of the city what they want most in their neighborhood and they are likely to answer: reopen the Engine 6 Fire House on Howard Street.

"If the fire house had been opened, that house would not have burned," said Ray Benedix, referring to a blaze in February of last year that destroyed a three-family home at 359 Howard St., just six houses away from the station, built in 1896 and closed the summer before due to budget cuts.

Benedix has lived on Prospect Hill since 1935.

"We hear the (fire) trucks coming up East Haverhill Street and cross our fingers ...," said Harold Magoon, director of the Lawrence/Methuen Community Coalition, a neighborhood organization on East Haverhill Street focused on the prevention of child abuse, substance abuse and domestic violence through the establishment of neighborhood associations and community networks.

Prospect Hill is tucked into the northeast corner of the city near the Methuen line bordered by Routes 110 and 495. It is rich in history containing the mansions of former mill owners and was where many of the city's politicians lived. The city's first reservoir was built there to fight fires in the mills.

Its residents are currently represented by District A City Councilor Sandy E. Almonte and longtime District A School Committee member James S. Vittorioso.

Residents say they remember when Prospect Hill was the best place to live in the city, but now say they find used syringes on their lawns, witness drug deals from their home's windows, the streets are strewn with garbage, and many homes are foreclosed and dilapidated. "Our district has been abandoned and you can see the difference when you cross the line to Methuen," said resident Domingo Melendez, who moved to the city in 1969.

When District A voters go to the polls Nov. 8, they will either re-elect Almonte or political newcomer Merrill Perkins Jr. to the City Council.

Vittorioso is being challenged by Kemal Bozkurt, who ran unsuccessfully for School Committee two years. Vittorioso said if he is re-elected to a fifth term, it will be his last.

City Council

Sandy E. Almonte*

Age: 39

Address: 33 Woodland St.

Personal: Single, three children

Education: Methuen High School graduate

Political Experience: Seeks second term on the City Council.

Top issues in district?

Reopen the fire station and continue being involved with the Lawrence/Methuen Community Coalition and working with teenagers in cleaning up the graffiti so our neighborhoods don't look dirty. Beautifying the neighborhood is important which is why we're in the process of eliminating eyesore — Knox, Howard, Vine and Kendall streets. We're proud to have a community garden which we can use to teach children.

Why are you running? I believe a city councilor is not just a political position, but also community oriented because I live here as well.

Merrill M. Perkins Jr.

Age: 54

Address: 63 Rollins St.

Personal: Married, two daughters

Education: Studied at Greater Lawrence Technical School and Central Catholic High School. Graduated from ITT Tech.

Occupation: Employed by Metalcrafters in Methuen for six years.

Political Experience: first president of the Prospect Hill/Back Bay Association; member of the Planning Board for two years; co-founder of Rollins Leroy and Young Association, representing 30-40 residents to talk about issues on their streets.

Top issues in district?

I want Engine 6 open. There's a lot of crime for the hill. Even in quiet neighborhoods with nice homes, we've seen a lot of drug activity. Residents want more police presence and want the drug dealers gone. They're finding used syringes on their lawns. Cleaning up the district is another priority as I walked around, I saw abandoned buildings, cars and trash.

Why are you running?

As a homeowner for 24 years, raising my two girls here, I've seen many changes in the past two years. Crime has gone up. We're not being represented on the hill as we'd like. I want to bring a balance on the council. I have the ability of bringing people together so they feel they have a voice and get people to get involved.

School Committee

James S. Vittorioso*

Age: 71

Address: 274 E. Haverhill St.

Personal: Single.

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration from Husson University (1967), Bangor, Maine; master's degree in political science teaching from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.; master's degree in guidance counseling from Boston State College, 1982; master's degree in special education from Lesley University, 1998. Lawrence High School graduate, 1958.

Occupation: Retired, 37 years teaching in Lawrence Public Schools.

Political experience: Seeking fifth consecutive, two-year-term. He also served a term from 1984-85. Served on the City Charter Commission from 1979-82, and Bellevue Cemetery Board, 1984-93.

Top issues in district?

Improve test scores for Lawrence's children who are not doing too well in math and science. Get more parent involvement and teach Spanish-speaking residents English. We have to do something to help our newest residents.

Why are you running?

This is going to be my last term. I wasn't planning to run again, but I wanted to be involved in the superintendent search. Mary Lou Bergeron is doing a good job, but we need the emphasis of new thinking. The teachers are doing the best they can and I don't know what's missing.

Kemal Bozkurt

Age: 43

Address: 11 Woodland Court

Personal: Born in Turkey and moved to the United States 13 years ago. Married, three children.

Education: Master's degree in Arabic language and literature from Marmara University, Istanbul; pursuing second master's degree in information science at Southern Connecticut State University (online). Speaks English, Arabic, Turkish and Spanish.

Work experience: Reference librarian at the Lawrence Public Library for more than 10 years.

Political Experience: Zoning board member for eight years; Democratic Party State Delegate for two years.

Top issues in district?

There is no difference in District A, B, C or D. Whatever happens in one, affects the whole city. We need a new superintendent to lead the school system, but I don't want to change the captain in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The number one problem for Lawrence is that many children under 18 don't go to school.

Why are you running?

Working at the library and dealing with students every single day, I'm not happy with their behavior. I see kids come to the library during school hours and it makes me upset because every student should attend school. We need to educate parents who must understand every child under 18 has to go to school. In some schools if there's a gang and the students are not happy and want to leave because of that, we must solve this problem.

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District B

Out-of-control nightclubs have generated major crime problems and early-morning disturbances, riling the residents of city's District B where neighborhoods of elderly housing and apartments inhabited by some of the city's poorest people run through the core of downtown Lawrence.

With an undermanned police department overwhelmed by escalating bar brawls, deadly violence and unruly crowds spilling out into the street, downtown liquor establishments have become a major focus of public outrage. Growing crime, dirty streets, unkept vacant lots, parking and trash are the other most prevalent citizen complaints.

In the heart of the city, storefront businesses and professional offices on Essex Street draw heavy traffic during the day as does City Hall, which anchors the main business district. The area also features the Fenton Judicial Center, Lawrence Superior Court and many other government buildings.

District B is also the hub of much of the city's history, including Lawrence Heritage Park, the Lawrence History Center and the city's main library. Grace Episcopal Church, the Old Public Library, the Masonic Temple and City Hall are among a number of historical buildings that surround the Campagnone Common.

The Reviviendo Gateway Initiative is also an integral part of the district's character, which aims to connect neighborhoods, downtown mills and storefronts to the Lawrence Gateway project, which involves redeveloping the industrial sites of GenCorp and Oxford Paper Co. Lawrence CommunityWorks and Groundwork Lawrence have supported efforts to revitalize local neighborhoods through affordable housing and open space development.

This year, District B has also become the epicenter of a citizen's revolt to oust beleaguered Mayor William Lantigua, who has been reported to be the target of several state and federal corruption probes of his administration for months. Lantigua has in turn immersed himself in this fall's District B campaigns.

Lantigua recruited candidates to run against City Councilor Grisel Silva and School Committee member Martina Cruz — District B incumbents who signed the petition to recall the mayor.

Newcomer Estela A. Reyes bested Silva 290-247 in last month's preliminary election. Meanwhile, Cruz trounced her challenger — Milquicided Santos — 298-160.

"He's gone out of his way, going on the radio and endorsing his candidates and trying to make us look like the enemy," Silva said of the mayor's efforts to defeat her and Cruz.

"But we're not the enemy of the people, We're not his puppets. We work for the people," Silva said.

Silva said she's not taking Lantigua's efforts lightly.

"The mayor knows how to campaign and he has chosen to pursue a vendetta," Silva said. "He's made sure that certain things wouldn't get done six months to a year, The mayor will do anything to make me look bad in my district."

City Council

Grisel Silva*

Age: 38

Address: 42 White St.

Personal: Single, three children and a granddaughter

Education: Certificate of Business Administration at Sawyer School of Business, FBI Citizen Academy Alumni, Member of NALEO

Work Experience: Project Coordinator, Patient Care Assistant

Political Experience: Seeking fourth two-year term on City Council.

Top issues facing your district?

Due to budget cuts we have seen increases in acts of violence, robbery, gang activities and increases in the trash.

Why are you running?

To achieve the best balance in the government so I can defend the best interests of the constituents of my district and our city. I strongly support our public safety, I propose to offer better economic support to our police and fire department, so they can have the necessary personnel and equipment to enable them to comply more efficiently. I support the maintenance of our parks, so we can provide a clean and a healthy environment for the families. As your city councilor I will always ask the tough questions. I will remain your STRONG, INDEPENDENT VOICE on the City Council on behalf of the residents of this Great City of Lawrence.

Estela A. Reyes

36 E. Haverhill St. Refused to answer all questions

School Committee

Martina Cruz*

Age: 47

Address: 40 Chestnut St.

Personal: Divorced, three children

Education: Received GED from Adult Learning Center, Lawrence, and associate's degree in early childhood education, Rivier College. Now working on bachelor's degree in human services, Springfield College, Manchester, N.H. campus.

Occupation: Engaged in a Research Fellowship with the Center for Women in Politics and Policy, UMass-Boston.

Political experience: Seeking a fourth term.

Top issues facing your district?

Raising student performance, lowering the dropout rate and increasing the safety of our children in school are issues that are very important for District B. As I said two years ago, hiring a permanent superintendent can go a long way to providing the stability the school system needs to resolve these issues.

Why are you running?

I want to continue being an independent voice for our children, parents and educators. As a school committee member I will continue to advocate, lobby for laws, programs and funding to provide the teachers the best tools to educate our children like bills S.185 (Act to Prevent Students from Dropping Out of School) and H.1065 and S.197 (Enhancing English Opportunities for all Students).

Milquicided Santos

Address: 34 Monmouth St. Refused to answer all questions

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District C

The northwestern section of the city, District C, is an area hit hard by home foreclosures and illegal dumping in recent years.

"This side of the city was neglected by previous administrations for many years. But our neighborhood has made substantial progress," said Modesto Maldonado, the current District C city councilor, who is not seeking re-election of Nov. 8.

Maldonado says his successor should focus on continued improvements for the area, which encompasses the Arlington neighborhood and northern Tower Hill section of the city.

The next councilor should push for long-needed street repairs in the district.

"Some of the streets are in tough shape," said Maldonado, pointing at Arlington, Willow, Warner and Spruce streets.

"When funds are available, the administration should take care of this."

Selling city-owned vacant lots in District C should also remain a priority, he said. A big problem in the neighborhood is illegal dumping in empty lots.

"We need to encourage people to let us know when this is happening so we can fine (the offending) individuals," he said.

Safety and crime rates are a concern for residents here.

"I am hoping, once the money becomes available, they can hire more police officers," he said.

Maldonado said a lingering issue in District C is also a lingering issue for the city.

Residents and businesspeople want a stronger and more accountable government base at City Hall.

"So government runs properly," he said.

He pointed to previous policies and contracts signed by the city which give unionized workers financial perks that Lawrence can no longer afford.

"These need to be reversed ... There is too much waste, too much overtime," Maldonado said.

Every department head also needs to be evaluated annually, he added.

Former city councilor Jorge Gonzalez and newcomer Kendrys Vasquez are vying for the District C seat Nov. 8.

Maldonado advised his successor to "be independent and do what's rate for the taxpayers and not for an individual."

"Keep focuses on moving the city forward and improving the neighborhood," he said.

City Council

Jorge Gonzalez

Age: 54

Address: 31 Chelmsford St.

Personal: Born in Ecuador. Came to Lawrence 36 years ago. Married, three children, seven grandchildren.

Education: High school graduate, Ecuador.

Occupation: Former factory supervisor for 16 years; First Student bus driver for 23 years; part-time clerk, Broadway Liquors, 11 years.

Political experience: Former School Committee member, two terms; Former District C city councilor, two terms.

Top issues in the district?

Crime, litter and vacant lots were problems before when I was city councilor. I worked hard to make the district cleaner. The problems are back. My main concern is the crime and drugs.

Why are you running?

My district has been abandoned by the current District C councilor Modesto Maldonado. People keep calling me because he doesn't respond to their phone calls. I am on 24/7. I am still working with people, working like I am still a councilor. They call me because everyone has my number. The only reason William Lantigua is supporting my opponent is because I did not support Lantigua's run for mayor.

Kendrys Vasquez

Age: 24

Address: 381 Hampshire St.

Personal: Single. Born in the Dominican Republic, District C resident for 11 years, now first-time homebuyer there.

Education: Lawrence High School and Merrimack College to study political science and communication, obtained non-profit management certificate.

Occupation: Recreation coordinator, CLASS. Inc., Board member Arlington Community Trabajando and Semana Hispana.

Political experience: Campaign manager for state Rep. Marcos Devers, field organizer for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, legislative intern for Congressman Martin Meehan, Lawrence Democratic and Merrimack Valley Young Democrats member.

Top issues in your district?

Public safety, graffiti, cleanliness, lack of recreational opportunity for youth and elders.

Why are you running?

Growing up in the Arlington neighborhood has given me the opportunity to know first hand the needs our district has, and since an early age I started to get involved with several nonprofit organizations to improve our community. Now I am offering myself as a public servant and I am running for city council to be a strong and firm voice for the residents of District C and the city of Lawrence. I strongly and firmly believe that by working collaboratively we will be able to have an exemplary district. I am a supporter of having a strong community policing which will enable us to develop solutions to the public safety problems we currently face. As your city councilor, I will join other members of the council in their efforts to bring back additional police officers and as a result increase police presence in our neighborhoods. Also, I will address the issues of rising graffiti in our area and do everything in my hands to ensure our district is clean.

School Committee

Pavel M. Payano

Age: 25

Address: 596 Haverhill St.

Personal: Single

Education: Robert Frost Elementary & Middle School 1998, Lawrence High School 2002. University of Massachusetts Amherst - B.A. in Political Science 2006 and University of Massachusetts Boston - Masters of Science in Public Affairs 2011.

Work experience: Special Assistant to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell), Department of Transitional Assistance social worker, University of Massachusetts Lowell project manager and President of the Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network.

Political experience: Outreach Director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, Co-Chair of the Youth Service Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, Latino Co-Director of the NH Barack Obama Campaign, Massachusetts Democratic State Committee Member, President of the UMass Amherst Student Government Association.

Top issues in your district?

Education and unemployment are the top issues in not only my district, but in the entire city. Manufacturing, Construction and other industries that do not require a high level of education are leaving the region, and sometimes country, in search of cheaper labor. Other jobs are increasingly being replaced by technological advancement. While the availability of blue collar jobs slowly decreases, there is still hope for those who seek their own version of the American Dream. Individuals, who seek to continue their education and obtain graduate and post-graduate degrees, have a better opportunity to obtain that dream. Careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, are growing rapidly in the state and offer high grossing career opportunities. If Lawrence can graduate more students and prepare them well for college, they may have a better opportunity to obtain jobs that offer a higher pay scale and in a few years we will slowly be able to rebuild the city s middle class.

Why are you running?

I care about the people in this city and believe that with a stronger education system, we can solve some of its woes such as crime and unemployment. Lawrence has an opportunity not just to increase its number of high school graduates, but to also grow the number of students that successfully graduate college. To do this, we need to start thinking long term and develop a culture where all students are expected to at least obtain an associate's degree. The time where knowing English and having a high school diploma ensured you an opportunity to live comfortably, own a house and feed your family has long since passed. We can either give in to the status quo and decades of poverty or we can come together and try to prepare our youth for the faster paced, hi-tech, globalized economy of the future.

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District D

Two years after handily defeating a long-term City Council incumbent, Oneida Aquino is facing a feisty challenger of her own in a race dominated by concerns over crime, failing schools and the leadership of a distracted mayor.

Even at the Hancock Courts, a red-brick public housing development in Tower Hill that is a tranquil enclave in a troubled city, parents watching over courtyards filled with kids on skateboards and bicycles on a recent evening said they worry about the direction Lawrence is taking.

"The crime has been insane," said Jorgie Nazario, a 20-year-old baker, as he listed some of the recent homicides, including a triple homicide on Maginnis Avenue on Sept. 5. "I got two kids of my own and I'm scared to take them out simply because it's not a safe street. It's not a safe environment."

Nazario said he expected to vote for Aquino's challenger, Samuel Reyes, for the District D seat on the City Council, but like most others interviewed at Hancock Courts, he conceded he knew little about either candidate. Although most of those interviewed were keenly aware of Mayor William Lantigua and the problems he and the city have faced since his election two years ago, few have focused on the Council race between Aquino and Reyes. Those who have were divided about the two candidates even as they were united about the growing challenges facing Lawrence.

"There are no jobs in Lawrence," said Rosana Fernandez, 39, who begins a new job at an out-of-town Target today and said she will vote for Aquino. "You have to go to another state or city to work — New Hampshire, Worcester, Boston."

Aquino did not respond to phone calls or to a message left at a party shop on Broadway she owns. She also did not reply to an e-mailed list of questions about the issues facing the city and her district.

Soft-spoken and barely five feet tall, Aquino has been a diminutive presence on the City Council, where she has made few proposals and rarely speaks up and has remained one of the mayor's most reliable supporters. Only twice in the last several months has she spoken up at any length. In June, she proposed further cuts to the police budget, which were not enacted, and earlier this month joined the debate over disciplining violent bars.

A bar she also owns — variously called D'Cache, D'Todo or MVP Sports Bar — has had a few minor incidents since she opened it two years ago, including in January when police investigated a tip that Aquino was operating a separate unlicensed bar behind the tinted windows of the second floor. Manager Ramon Aquino handed Sgt. Michael Simard his cellphone and asked him to call his sister before shutting the upstairs bar. Simard said he "respectfully declined" the request.

Reyes, who has served on the School Committee for four years, differs from Aquino in style and substance. It was his tip to police that led to the indictment of then-Superintendent of Schools Wilfredo Laboy for allegedly diverting school resources for personal use.

He went on to become Lantigua's most vocal critic on the School Committee. Most recently Reyes blasted the mayor for waiting until the 11th hour to begin a search for a new superintendent.

"I've been an independent voice," Reyes said. "What I'm most proud of is holding people accountable."

Also in District D, Francisco Surillo is running unopposed for the School Committee seat Reyes is giving up.

City Council

Samuel Reyes

Age: 40

Address: 432 Lowell St.

Personal: Married, three children.

Education: Central Catholic High School

Occupation: Carrier for U.S. Postal Service in Wakefield.

Political Experience: Two, two-year terms on the School Committee

What can be done to retain the police and firefighters who were hired with state and federal grants after the grants run out over the next two years?

I will make sure the administration reaches out to (the federal departments of) Homeland Security, Justice Department, and all other agencies to make sure that we receive the federal funding that our public safety officials need.

Lawrence has a 17 percent unemployment rate. What can the city do to fix that?

I want to see the administration recruit key industries, including food processing, health care, green technology and logistics. Transform the Lawrence High School stadium into a revenue and jobs generator. Expand access to job-training programs, professional education and internship opportunities. Revitalize our industrial neighborhoods with new infrastructure and an effective strategic plan for expanding industry.

What is the top issue facing District D?

My constituents want their garbage picked up, and streets and sidewalks maintained. They want to feel safe. They want the fire and police department to respond as quickly as possible. They want zoning and code enforcement policies that protect their property values. In short, they want basic services delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Oneida Aquino*

Did not respond

School Committee

Francisco Surillo

Age: 41

Address: 339 Water St.

Personal: Married, three children.

Education: Attending Springfield College

Occupation: Case manager, Lawrence Housing Authority

Political experience: Lawrence Human Rights Commission

Was the School Committee correct to pass over interim Superintendent of Schools Mary Lou Bergeron in favor of a search?

The timing was wrong. If (a search) should be done, it should be done in April. I have no problem with hiring (Bergeron).

State education officials say they may step in to help run Lawrence schools if a new superintendent is not in place by Dec. 31. Would you support state intercession?

I do not favor a state takeover. We should be able to handle the situation.

What is the biggest challenge facing Lawrence schools?

The lack of consistency (in instruction). The curriculum is not across the board. We need to put policies in place to make sure all the schools are functioning under the same curriculum. We need to find out what's working in one school to replicate it in other schools.

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District E

A growing crime problem and a public school system gripped in turmoil top the list of concerns for voters who live in District E, the southwestern section of the city bordering Andover.

"We have younger people buying homes and moving into the area," said Frank Incropera, president of the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Association, a group that represents about 400 families.

"So, they're worried about the crime. They're worried about the education for their children," he said.

But Incropera, a retired Lawrence police officer, believes the campaign to recall Mayor William Lantigua is the biggest issue facing the people of his district in next month's city elections.

"Probably the number one problem is the mayor of Lawrence," Incropera said.

And a lot of people think if we can get rid of him, everything else will fall into place. I think they're blaming him for the crimes and they're blaming him for the problems in the schools," he said.

The Mount Vernon Neighborhood is considered home for the city's most affluent and politically active residents. Most of the homes are single-family, less than 40 years old, and in an area not as congested as other parts of the city because of the larger house lots.

It's an area where open space is plentiful with trees and wilderness — giving it a country feel. Three city councilors — one third of the nine-member elected body — reside in District E, making it a very political active district, and one steeped in civic pride.

But after nearly two years in office, Lantigua *mdash; whose office has been reported to be the subject of ongoing criminal investigations — has turned out to be "a black eye" and major "embarrassment," according to Incropera.

"With this guy, how can you be proud of your city? People are not happy with what's going on," Incropera said.

Community activist Wayne Hayes, a district resident, was a key organizer in the recall that failed earlier this year and helping the one that recently got underway.

"We're going to try to get it through. They'll get a lot of signatures up here," Incropera said.

City Council

Eileen O'Connor Bernal

Age: 39

Address: 257 Mount Vernon St.

Personal: Husband Les Bernal, two children.

Education: St. Mary High School graduate; University College Galway; Saint Anselm College; law degree from Suffolk University.

Work Experiene: Attorney at Smolak & Vaughan, North Andover.

Political Experiene: Seeking second term on the City Council.

Top issues in the district:

Making local government work better.

Why are you running:

I understand the needs of our neighborhood and I do the extra work it takes to follow through and get things done in a professional way. In my first term, I've not missed a single vote and I've personally responded to more than 500 issues from constituents.

Kathleen A. Runge

Age: 54

Address: 32 Dracut St.

Personal: Husband Bob and son Sean. Hobbies: genealogy and computer programming.

Education: Bachelor's of Science in math and philosophy and a doctorate in math, both from the University of Pittsburgh.

Work Experiene: Currently teach math at Merrimack College. I've mainly taught math over the past 20 years.

Political Experiene: None.

Top issues in the district:

Restoring public safety. We need more police and firefighters. We have had five people shot to death in District E within two months. The integrity of elections is another problem. The voter registration list is full of duplicates; we need to clean it up and implement Voter ID.

Why are you running:

After talking to a lot of District E residents this summer and seeing the empty houses in nice looking residential neighborhoods, I felt I had to run. All the empty houses really shocked me. People are not satisfied with the local government. We have to do what's best for the city and work to get qualified people for the top positions in city hall. We have to rid the city of perceived corruption and cronyism as best we can.

School Committee

Jennifer Ann Cooper

Age: 35

Address: 53 Bowdoin St.

Personal: Married with 2 children who attend Lawrence Public Schools

Education: Bachelor's of Science in biology, UMass-Boston

Work Experiene: Stay at home mother who put her biotechnology career on hold to raise children.

Political Experiene: Co-founder and past president of the Sacred Heart Neighborhood Association

Top issues in the district:

Professionalism and a clear focus on committee responsibilities are urgently needed to deliver stability to the school system. Securing a superintendent without political ties is a top priority. We need to focus on student achievement and attendance, founding an honors academy, streamlining the budget, infrastructure, and technology among other issues.

Why are you running:

Safe streets and successful schools are the core of a flourishing community. Children's education should never take a backseat to back room politics and personal agendas. I will put forth a tremendous results- driven effort toward elevating the reputation and performance of LPS when afforded the opportunity to serve you.

Homayoun Maali

Age: 56

Address: 53 Chester St.

Personal: Married, two children

Education: Bachelor's of science, industrial engineering; graduate in management award from Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Work Experiene: Self-employed.

Political Experiene: None.

Top issues in the district:

I am unhappy with the failed leadership of Dr. Bergeron. The only people who support Dr. Bergeron in my district are the principals of the Frost School and Wetherbee School and the teachers that are fearful of getting fired. Dr. Bergeron has done nothing positive for Lawrence public schools from the Guilmette School mold crisis to the Robert Frost School where children take the MCAS exam in the rooms with the temperature more than 100 degrees.

Why are you running:

I am running to change all that. We need to focus on our children and our public schools, not on the paid employees of the Lawrence Public Schools (who) do not live in our city.

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District F

A federal grand jury is reportedly looking into criminal allegations against him, a second effort to recall him is underway and the state is threatening to take over the school system, but Mayor William Lantigua has found other fights to pick this summer and fall.

The freshman mayor has jumped into more than a dozen races for the City Council and School Committee, where he is registering voters, knocking on doors, distributing palm cards and brandishing the councilors and committee members he would defeat as "enemies of the people" in interviews on Spanish-language radio.

Nowhere is Lantigua pushing harder than in the South Lawrence district represented by Marc Laplante, who has emerged as Lantigua's most vocal critic on the City Council.

Lantigua began the effort in District F in September by coaxing Randy Jaime — the 26-year-old brother of his receptionist — to make an 11th-hour sticker campaign in the preliminary election for Laplante's seat. Jaime received twice the 50 write-in votes needed to get on the Nov. 8 ballot and Lantigua has stayed focused on the race.

Call the phone number on Jaime's campaign posters — 978-423-0079 — and the voice at the other end isn't Jaime's.

"I'm managing his campaign," Lantigua said after answering a call to the cell phone recently. "Proudly - p-r-o-u-d- . . ." The line then went dead.

Lantigua's intense focus on District F has made him issue number one in the District F race, where he has put his reputation as a street-fighting mayor on the line. Defeating Laplante and one or two other incumbent councilors would rejuvenate the embattled mayor and clear the way for his agenda on the council, which has become increasingly restive in recent months as Lantigua's troubles have grown. The agenda could include removing Police Chief John Romero, whose public skirmishes with the mayor began when Lantigua replaced Romero's top deputy with then-Sgt. Melix Bonilla, who managed Lantigua's mayoral campaign.

Lantigua did not return phone calls this week to comment on this story.

Jaime also did not return phone calls or respond to messages left at his Market Street home or the Rent-a-Center on Winthrop Avenue where he works.

Laplante is more eager to talk. He mentioned Jaime only once or twice in an interview about the campaign and the issues, but continually returned to Lantigua. He has stayed as focused on Lantigua as Lantigua is on him.

"The biggest issue facing the city? It's crime," Laplante said. "Until we restore the police department and give Romero the tools he needs, we're going to continue to have a crime issue. The execution is more difficult than the ideas, but we need to increase the tax base, become less reliant on state and federal handouts. How do we increase the tax base? We need a stable political environment. Right now, we've got a mayor rumored to be on the brink of getting indicted. We have recall petitions, turmoil, a mayor unwilling and unable to talk to the people in the city through the mainstream media, a mayor who's continually being shown on regional and Boston news organizations as dysfunctional."

Laplante, an enforcement coordinator with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection who makes the 23-mile round-trip commute to his Wilmington office by bicycle, is seeking his fourth term on the City Council. He is the most outspoken of the nine members on the council, where his recent proposals include hiking the fines for illegal dumping, banning exotic animals such as circus elephants from Lawrence, and capping the number of liquor licenses in the city at the current number.

Of the six of the city's council districts, District F will be among the most difficult for Lantigua to sway on Tuesday. The district, along with District E, also in South Lawrence, is more Anglo and middle class than the four districts across the Merrimack River. Lantigua lost both the districts by sizable margins two years ago, as did his favored council candidate, Michael Fielding, who was a former treasurer for Lantigua's campaign organization. Lantigua lives in the district on Boxford Street.

Laplante, 45, is one of the few enrolled Republicans on the City Council, whose elections are non-partisan. The voting card for Jaime on file at the city's Election Division shows he is not enrolled in a party, which Lantigua appears to misstate in the campaign literature he has published for Jaime. The literature, which includes Lantigua's picture, implores voters: "Por Favor Vote por Los Democratas Randy Jaime, ..."

Laplante spent $566 on the preliminary election and another $873 up to last week's deadline for filing financial disclosure forms. Jaime did not file a disclosure form for the preliminary election, but has spent $528 since then — all of it his own money, his disclosure form shows.

Jaime's form shows no cash or in-kind contributions from Lantigua.

James Blatchford is running unopposed for the School Committee in District F.

City Council

Marc Laplante*

Age: 45

Address: 29 Durso Ave.

Personal: Married with three children

Education: BA from Assumption College, JD from Massachusetts School of Law

Occupation:Enforcement Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Political Experiene: Three-term Lawrence City Councilor

What can be done to retain the firefighters and police who were hired with $7.2 million in grants this year when the grants run out in a year or two?

We need to increase the tax base and be less dependent on state and local handouts. Our property tax base will improve once we have a stable political climate, adequate public safety, an improved educational system and lower unemployment.

What can be done to bring down Lawrence's 17 percent unemployment rate?

Job creation can only be spurred when employers have confidence that they can make money. Businesses will not expand or move into Lawrence if the political climate is in turmoil, public safety is in crisis and the infrastructure is in disrepair.

Should Mayor William Lantigua step aside if he is indicted by the grand jury considering criminal charges against him? If the mayor is indicted, should the state appoint a control board or a receiver to run the city?

The mayor should step aside if he is indicted because he will have lost his moral authority and his ability to lead the city would be totally compromised. If the mayor refuses to relinquish his seat after an indictment, the special state legislation (allowing Lawrence to borrow up to $35 million to wipe out deficits) provides that a control board would be the next step to provide stability to Lawrence. I support this.

What is the top issue facing District F?

The increase in crime has reduced the quality of life. People understand that fully staffed police and fire departments and re-opening the Bailey Street Fire Station would return stability in District F.

Randy Jaime: Did Not Respond

School Committee

James Blatchford

Age: 24

Address: 18 Salem St.

Personal: Engaged to be married

Education: Lawrence High School graduate

Occupation:Operations Supervisor for Connection Strategies, a political consulting/polling firm

Political Experiene: Vice chairman of the Lawrence Planning Board

Was the School Committee correct to pass over interim Superintendent of Schools Mary Lou Bergeron in favor of a search?

Superintendent Bergeron should have received at least a two-year contract in 2010. A decision to conduct a search or to extend her contract should have been made when that contract expired, but the current situation has left us without long-term leadership in Lawrence Public Schools.

State education officials say they may step in to help run Lawrence schools if a new superintendent is not in place by Dec. 31. Would you support state intercession?

I do not support a complete takeover of the system by the state. With at least three new members of the school committee coming on in January, we deserve a chance to improve the system we were elected to represent.

What is the biggest challenge facing Lawrence schools?

Taking one of the lowest-performing school systems in Massachusetts and bringing it up to par. One way we can do that is by bringing an exam school much like Boston Latin to Lawrence. This will not only be a reason for some parents to keep their children in Lawrence schools, but entice students who are less motivated to put an effort into their education.

Greater Lawrence Technical School — School Board

Regardless of who joins the School Committee for the Greater Lawrence Technical School, board member Marilyn Fitzgerald wants the new members to help guide the school to continue making gains in MCAS testing.

Last year, 10th-graders at the Andover-based vocational school vastly improved their English and math scores. Sixty-five percent achieved proficiency in English — up 17 percent from 2010. The school also saw an 11-percent jump in math proficiency.

"(My priority is) the strides that we have made in the past year in particular with the absolutely phenomenal increase in our MCAS scores," said Fitzgerald, who is not facing re-election for her Andover seat on the committee.

Superintendent John Lavoie said the budget also continues to be an issue for the 1,200-student school, as energy and health insurance costs continue to rise while state and federal aid is decreasing.

"We don't know what's going to happen next year but trying to continue the meet the needs of all of our students and continue to provide the same level of education with less money is a challenge," Lavoie said.

The school is also considering the purchase of a trigeneration system — an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million expense — to replace the school's chiller. Lavoie said the district is undergoing a feasibility study with state officials, who could fund a large part of the purchase if it is approved. The natural gas system would allow the school to conserve electricity and sell excess electricity back to public utilities.

Voters in Lawrence and Methuen will decide on five of the seven members on the regional school's board. Lawrence incumbents Richard Hamilton and Pamela Neilon are not seeking re-election. Methuen incumbent Erica Max is also not running for another term.

Leo J. Lamontagne*

Age:57

Address: 10 Corbett Road

Personal: Married to Deborah for 30 years; Two sons, Leo III and Matthew

Education: Grade 12 + 2 years automotive post graduate

Work experience: 36 years, owner of Leo & Sons' Auto Repair & Towing, 157 South Broadway, in Lawrence

Political experience: 26 years representing Lawrence on the GLTS Committee, 24 years as chairman.

Why are you running for the GLTS Committee?

I feel it is everybody's responsibility to give back to the community. I truly believe in Technical/Vocational education. As a graduate of GLTS it is extremely rewarding to be involved with such a successful school.

What do you think is the most important issue facing GLTS?

There is no doubt making sure GLTS keeps striving to meet the MCAS requirements must be a primary focus. I also believe we need to do our best to get, snd keep, parents involved in their child's education. Also, to make sure the funds that are available are allocated directly to the students.

Gary Mannion

Age:22

Address: 380 Elm St.

Personal information: Single

Education: Whittier RegionalVocational Technical High School, specializing in culinary arts; student at Merrimack College majoring in political science, minor in fine arts

Work: Culinary arts sector for the past 7 years

Political experience:former Lawrence City Council candidate, running in 2007 and 2009 in District B

Why are you running for the GLTS Committee?

As a life-long resident of Lawrence and a vocational school graduate myself, I am running for the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee because I understand the need for a fresh approach to how we handle vocational education in Lawrence.

What do you think is the most important issue facing GLTS?

As a vocational school graduate I understand many students enter vocational education to secure jobs. In today's economy, obtaining a job can be more difficult than ever. Making sure our students are prepared for college, and by promoting policies that keep our student's competitive on a local and national level to increase job growth will be my top priority.

Denise Perrault

Age: 55

Address: 684 Haverhill St.

Personal information: Two children, Melanie and Joshua

Education: A.D. for medical executive secretary from Northern Essex Community College; finishing A.D. in liberal arts from Northern Essex Community College; finishing B.A. in legal education from UMass-Boston; finishing graduate certificate program in women in politics and public policy at UMass-Boston

Work experience: U.S. Census bureau, two years; N.H. Environmental Group, seasonal; formerly Essex Superior Court probation department employee

Political experience: Voter registration and Yes We Will campaign for Lawrence CommunityWorks; volunteer for various political campaigns including President Barack Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick, and U.S. Sen. John Kerry

Why are you running for the GLTS Committee?

Educating our youth is an important achievement whether through a technical degree or a college degree in order for our youth to be prepared and successful. I want to be able to collaborate with all parties involved with the School Committee to ensure that all students, their parents, the administration, and the School Committee continue to put students first.

What do you think is the most important issue facing GLTS?

GLTS has had to make budget cuts for the fourth consecutive year like most schools across the state and the country. Despite these cuts, there are always opportunities to increase funding, to apply for more grants and ways to increase funding. Since I am resourceful, creative, and a problem solver with special education advocacy experience, I hope to bring my experience and ideas to the School Committee.

Abel Vargas

Age:29

Address: 64 Jennings St.

Personal information:Married this past September, no children

Education:Bachelor's degree business administration from UMass-Lowell

Work experience: Analyst at Yankee Alliance in Andover; formerly a market analyst at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Political experience:None

Why are you running for the GLTS Committee?

I believe I can add value and provide the committee with new perspective and ideas.There also needs to be a bigger and more accessible presence of the GLTS in the community and I hope to provide that accessibility.

What do you think is the most important issue facing GLTS?

Student job placement.If we want our community to improve we have to provide the students that graduate with job-ready skills with jobs.That will not only improve the school, but the lives of the students that graduate and the community as a whole.

Alejandro Feliciano: Did not respond