In answer to a question about how to solve the city’s fiscal problems so a state receiver is no longer involved, Rivera said he would “show a level of responsibility with the people’s money.”
“I’d take the indicted police officers off the city’s payroll,” he said.
Gonzalez said he would hire a professional economic development director. He has been critical of the job currently done by former City Councilor Patrick Blanchette, who currently holds that position.
The mayor “keeps mismanaging” the city’s finances, Gonzalez said.
O’Donoghue said that if elected, the first thing he would do would be to sit down with the state-appointed overseer to get a detailed assessment of the city’s financial situation.
“I don’t believe everything has been made available to the public,” he said.
The next mayor also needs to look at ways to rebuild the city’s tax base, according to O’Donoghue.
“The first thing I’d do as mayor would become the the public relations chief and market the city,” Devers said.
The city needs to do a better job of marketing itself as a place with great potential, Devers said. Other candidates echoed that as a major theme throughout the evening: a need for Lawrence to sell itself on a pool of hardworking local labor and available space in mill buildings.
All of the candidates also expressed concerns about improving “quality of life issues” in the city, particularly the appearance.
Rivera said he would create a “quality of life SWAT Team,” comprised of two police officers, two firefighters and two inspectional services workers to investigate complaints about poorly-maintained properties in the city.
“If your house is visited more than 10 times a month, you have a problem,” Rivera said.
Last night’s debate was videotaped by the Lawrence Public Schools Media Department, assisted by a crew of Lawrence High School students. The unedited video tape will be available on The Eagle-Tribune website later this week.