EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 11, 2013

Four more enter council race

Sixteen candidates now running in Lawrence

By Keith Eddings
keddings@eagletribune.com

---- — 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.

The charges were eventually dismissed. Gonzalez said he needed the gun for protection at his job as a cashier at a Broadway liquor store, but has since surrendered his gun permit. He also drives a school bus in Plaistow, N.H., and worked for 25 years at Vernon Plastics in Haverhill, until the plant closed in 2003.

Vasquez, who is seeking a second two-year term on the City Council, and Aquino, who is seeking a third, did not return phone calls or e-mails yesterday.

Lawrence residents also will elect a mayor this year. Besides Rivera, incumbent William Lantigua has picked up nominating petitions, as have Nestor DeJesus, an accountant, and James O’Donoghue, a self-described inventor.

Residents also will elect committees that oversee Lawrence public schools and the Greater Lawrence Technical School, but those races have attracted little interest so far.