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Merrimack Valley

September 12, 2013

There's competition to fill council leadership void

Field of 12 at-large councilor candidates will be cut in half in preliminary election

LAWRENCE — With the City Council losing its two most influential leaders, the race to fill the three at-large seats on the nine-member body may be the most competitive in this year’s city elections.

Half of the field of 12 candidates running in Tuesday’s preliminary election will be eliminated. The top six vote-getters will make it onto the Nov. 5 general election ballot. Roger A. Twomey, who seeks a fourth, two-year term, is the only incumbent councilor-at-large running.

The departure of City Council President Frank Moran — who is leaving after six years to spend more time being a state representative, and the council’s vice president Daniel Rivera, who is running for mayor — leaves a leadership void.

But, there may be more than enough years of collective experience among the candidates competing for the three at-large seats to make up for the lost experience.

“For the first time in many years, the city of Lawrence is going to have a tremendous amount of good choices to select from,” former City Councilor Modesto Maldonado said last week during a candidate’s forum sponsored by the Lawrence City Democratic Committee at the Lawrence Public Library.

“I think you have a great amount of challenges. But there are good people who are running for councilor-at-large. So, whatever happens (during the election), you’re a winner,” he said.

Maldonado, who was elected to the District C Arlington Neighbohood seat in 2009, decided not to seek re-election two years ago. He is one of three ex-city councilors on the ballot. The other two candidates with past council experience include:

Nilka I. Alvarez-Rodriguez spent a decade as a city councilor before running an unsuccessful campaign for mayor four years ago. She was the top vote-getter in the 2007 councilor at-large race. She served her first three terms as a councilor for District C. If elected, she would have the most experience of anyone on the council – as much as outgoing Councilors Moran and Rivera combined.

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