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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


Jorge A. Gonzalez served two terms as a city councilor, representing District C before he was defeated four years ago by Maldonado. He lost a campaign to reclaim his seat in 2011. He had previously served two two-year terms on the School Committee before getting elected to the council.

Three of the other challengers for the at-large seat have previous or current School Committee experience. Mark Gray served on the Lawrence School Committee for two years after getting elected by voters in the District E Mount Vernon area in 2009. School Committee member Francisco Surillo is finishing his only term representing the District D Tower Hill area and Denise L. Perrault is currently a member of the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee. Both were elected two years ago.

Another challenger, private investigator, Chally Ramos, has been active for several years in local politics. He failed in two bids for state representative seat and in previous campaign for city councilor two years ago.

First-time candidates include: Francisco A. Brea, a worker dislocation program coordinator for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO; Maria D. De La Cruz, an unemployed school teacher; local businesswoman Wendy Raquelina Luzon; and attorney Cara Martinoli.

The six district city councilor races on the ballot Tuesday night are essentially dry runs for the November general election. District C incumbent Kendrys Vasquez, District B incumbent Estela Reyes and District F incumbent Marc Laplante are on the ballot unchallenged.

Meanwhile, District A incumbent Sandy Almonte will face Rosa Pina. District D incumbent Oneida Aquino will face Marta Rentas. District E incumbent Eileen Bernal will face Kathleen Runge. With no more than two candidates for any of the six seats, Tuesday’s ballot for the district council seats will match the Nov. 5 ballot.

Up to seven incumbent city councilors — including six district councilors — could be reelected this fall, minimizing turnover on the new council that takes over in January.

But the at-large council races could determine whether the new council will work with or against the next mayor, whoever it may be. Typically, successful at-large candidates, because they run in citywide political races, often become future mayoral and state legislative candidates.




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