The Lynn Community Association hosted a Ward Councilor debate last night at the Lynn Museum. Candidates in the contested ward races (Wards 4, 5 and 7) participated and questions included those on the city's negative reputation, crime and the proposal for a 2am bar closing time. Ariana Murrell-Rosario is running for a second time in Ward 4 against incumbent Richard Colucci, Marven-Rhode Hyppolite is running against current Ward 5 councilor Diana Chakoutis and the candidates for Ward 7 are both newcomers with Brian Field facing off against John "Jay" Walsh.
When asked if Lynn residents were satisfied with the city's governance, the candidates overall believed they were for the most part but acknowledged that this may depend on who you were speaking with and where they lived in the city. Hyppolite stated that many residents might be unaware of the services that the city has to offer while Walsh believed that dissatisfaction stemmed mostly from quality of life type issues. Colucci noted that there are naysayers but that Lynn is "happening" and noted increasing real estate prices. When it comes to crime, the candidates did not believe that Lynn was particularly unsafe with Chakoutis saying that she did not feel unsafe. Hyppolite called for addressing the root causes of crime such as poverty and a lack of opportunity in order to decrease crime and engage young people. Colucci reiterated throughout the debate that Lynn is "going in the right direction."
In regard to a question about the proposal for a 2am bar closing time, Field, an experience bartender, stated that the issue was not time but a responsibility issue noting that intoxication can occur at any time. Walsh suggested a trial period on Friday and Saturday nights to see how things go and Murrell-Rosario was explicitly in favor and that a later closer time would help establishments financially.
The candidates were also asked about the $15 million that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is reporting that public education in the city is underfunded by. Colucci and Chakoutis both believed that there needs to be more state funding for public education; Field called for changes to the net school funding formula and what could be considered as school expenditures including items like maintenance. Murrell-Rosario believed an audit was in order to determine if monies received from the state were being spent appropriately. Hyppolite called it "unacceptable" that the schools were that underfunded and said it was up to cities to "make education a priority."
The candidates mostly agreed on a question about infrastructure that the city's roads are in need of repair. Chakoutis believed that Boston Street and the number of vacant commercial properties there needed to be addressed while her opponent thought housing was the most important infrastructural item. Murrell-Rosario also mentioned housing as she noted the amount of urban plight in Ward 4 calling that one of her campaign platforms. She suggested working with the Lynn Housing Authority in order to create programming to address her housing concerns. Visions for the city in five years included more night school programming a Lynn Tech in order to provide job training opportunities (Walsh), more restaurants (Chakoutis) and increased dialogue so that no Lynners are left behind and all can share in the increasing prosperity (Hyppolite).
The general election will be held on Tuesday, November and the primary has tentatively been cancelled.