EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 11, 2013

Four more enter council race

Sixteen candidates now running in Lawrence

LAWRENCE — The field of City Council hopefuls ballooned to 16 this week when incumbents Kendrys Vasquez and Oneida Aquino, former Councilor Jorge Gonzalez and newcomer Blossom Wilson picked up nominating petitions.

Vasquez, who represents District C, and Aquino, who represents District D, are the last of the six incumbents representing the districts to enter the race.

At-large Councilor Roger Twomey also is running again, but at-large Councilors Frank Moran and Daniel Rivera are not. Moran is giving up his council seat a year after he was elected to the Massachusetts House; Rivera is running for mayor.

“Lawrence needs a lot of improvements,” Wilson, a case manager for a social service agency, said yesterday after picking up petitions to run in District F, now represented by Marc Laplante. “The first thing I’d like to see is to clean up the city. Help stabilize families a little more. Try to rebuild the city.”

Gonzalez served two terms on the School Committee, followed by two on the City Council, until he lost his bid for a third term to Modesto Maldonado in 2009. Maldonado did not run again in 2011, but is running for an at-large seat on the council this year.

“My district is abandoned because (Vasquez) is not returning phone calls,” Gonzalez, the father of a Lowell cop and a Lawrence school teacher, said yesterday. “The councilor is not doing the job. The police and firemen need help. The schools have been taken over by the state. We need to work together to do a lot of work — safety, education and more stuff.”

Gonzalez, 56, was robbed at gunpoint outside his Spruce Street home in 2010, a year after losing his re-election bid. In 2011, he was charged with disorderly conduct and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling after firing his 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun outside his home in the middle of the night.

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