In Laurent, an interim mayor and his challenger clash on Tuesday | Merrimack Valley
LAWRENCE – Acting Mayor Kendrys Vasquez and his challenger Brian DePena were planning to spend Halloween weekend – the final days before the city’s general election on November 2 – making themselves visible and available to voters.
“My campaign team, volunteers and I will continue to recruit voters by going door-to-door, calling and holding contact meetings with undecided voters until election day,” DePena said. . âSo far, we are gaining ground where we were weakest in the primaries. Likewise, we train our volunteers to identify any fraud or electoral fraud in preparation for Tuesday’s election.
Vasquez received major endorsement last week from Elizabeth Warren, the former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
Warren said Vasquez “fought to create the big structural policies Lawrencians deserve, like expanding the Mayor’s scholarship fund for childcare, by committing $ 3.6 million to over the next two years to help Lawrence’s families access affordable licensed child care. ” She added that Lawrence “is a city built and continues to grow with the working class residents, and deserves a mayor who will stand up for them.”
About 30 percent, or about 12,600 of the city’s 42,000 registered voters, are expected to participate in the election. The early vote took place last week in the city council chamber at City Hall.
Polling stations are open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Just a check mark under 22% of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in September’s preliminary elections. Next, Vasquez got 3,704, the most votes, followed by DePena, with 3,247 votes. The duo eliminated preliminary mayoral challengers Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, William Lantigua and Doris Rodriguez.
Both candidates have said they support the rebuilding of the 100-year-old Leahy School, the one-ballot question in Tuesday’s election which seeks a tax exemption to fund the project. Of the price of $ 103.7 million, some $ 61.3 million in funding is available from the state school building fund. But for the project to move forward, voters must approve a tax waiver to borrow $ 42.4 million to fund the remainder of the project. The waiver means that property taxes would rise across the city.
Vasquez said that as the mayor of a growing city, it is “our responsibility to ensure that our children have sufficient classroom space, which will create a safe learning environment and reduce overcrowding in our public schools â.
âLeahy School will become a state-of-the-art facility with appropriate spaces for students to continue to develop and take pride in the hallways they enter, the education they receive and the city in. which they live, âhe said.
DePena, meanwhile, said the improvements at Leahy School were “long overdue,” but he is concerned about the impact of the project on taxpayers and the city’s competing financial needs. He said the current administration “has misled the public about the use and allocation of funds, especially with regard to unjustifiable tax increases for funding the project gap.”
âThe tax increases were never part of the project budget and should never have been proposed if the planning process had been carried out correctly. Creating a multimillion-dollar budget deficit will put other critical capital improvement projects at risk, as well as the jobs and benefits of hard-working municipal workers, including first responders and teachers. years to come, âDePena said.
L’Aigle-Tribune also asked candidates for mayor to answer the following questions:
What’s the biggest problem Lawrence is facing right now:
Vasquez: âThe Columbia Gas explosions and the global pandemic have taken a heavy toll on the residents and business owners of Lawrence. As a result, the biggest issue I will continue to fight for is our city’s economic recovery. “
DePena: Violence at school, âwhich this administration has shown itself unable to control. The message if he is elected mayor to our students and to our community will be clear: âWe will not endure this chaos in our schools nor in our community. “
How do you differentiate yourself from your opponent? What makes you a better candidate?
Vasquez: He highlighted his last 10 months as interim mayor and said he “would continue to move Lawrence forward in the right direction.” In addition, I have the honor of having served for almost 10 years as a city councilor, first as chairman of the budget and finance committee, then as chairman of the city council. I have proven that I have the experience to lead our city through any difficult times it may face. Lawrence deserves a mayor who will show up first and also fight and who can properly defend the residents. “
DePena: He referred to his background both “as an administrator and city councilor with knowledge of city operations.” I am the only candidate for mayor who has a clear vision and documented plan for Lawrence that includes better education, economic development and investment strategies, expansion opportunities for small businesses, and provisions for a clean and safe environment. The reputation I have gained from my private companies, legislative experience, combined with the ability to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, make me the right choice as mayor.
What’s the most important thing you want to convey to voters?
Vasquez: âLawrence deserves a mayor who will fight for what he deserves. My track record proves that I am committed to improving the quality of life in our city as we continue to recover from a pandemic and its effects on our economy. This election is one of the most important elections for our community and I ask residents to give me the opportunity to continue leading our city in the right direction.
DePena: âMy message to voters is that the end of an era of incompetence is fast approaching. Lawrence deserves better and we will survive this challenge united as one. I will lead the city on the guiding principles of good governance, transparency and achieving achievable results always bearing in mind that people are in control and their voices will be heard. Now it’s the people’s turn!
Follow reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.