EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 14, 2013

Nine council candidates fail to file disclosures

LAWRENCE — Nine of the 21 candidates for City Council in Tuesday’s preliminary election — including incumbents Oneida Aquino and Sandy Almonte — have not filed the financial disclosure forms that were due Tuesday.

Of the 12 who have filed, their paperwork shows that in the state’s poorest city, council seats can be had for little or nothing.

The spending is lightest in the six district races, where only Almonte (District A), Aquino (District D) and Eileen Bernal (District E) face challengers.

Bernal has spent nothing, her disclosure form shows. Her challenger, Kathleen Runge, has spent just $27.92 (on bank fees).

Almonte’s challenger, Rosa Pina, has not filed her disclosure form.

Aquino’s challenger, Marta Rentas, has raised $385 and spent $586, leaving her $201 in debt.

Among the three council candidates representing districts who do not face challengers, Estella Reyes (District B) has spent $43, Kendrys Vasquez (District C) has spent $1,502 and Marc Laplante (District F) has spent $165.

The six council candidates running at large who have not filed their disclosure forms are Chally Ramos, Denise Perrault, Jorge Gonzalez, Maria De La Cruz, Mark Gray and Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez.

Candidates who fail to file face fines of up to $25 a day. Last year, Mayor William Lantigua paid a $5,000 fine for failing to file a 2011 disclosure report until more than a year after it was due. State Attorney General Martha Coakley recently filed new allegations of campaign finance irregularities against Lantigua, including failure to file several disclosure forms.

“The campaign finance laws primary focus is disclosure, so the public can see the money raised and spent by their candidates so there is transparency in the electoral process,” said Jason Tait, a spokesman for the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Among the six at-large candidates who have filed, the biggest spender is Wendy Luzon, who has raised $3,938 and spent all but $78, her disclosure form shows. Her biggest donor is Zolia Gomez, a lawyer who is running City Councilor Daniel Rivera’s race for mayor. She gave $500 to Luzon.

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