Jaime Figueroa is one of eight candidates running for Councilor At-Large in this year's Lynn municipal election. Here he answers some questions about some of the pressing issues facing the city.
One of the major issues in the forefront during this year’s election is the current state of the city’s finances. What is your assessment of Lynn’s financial health in terms of the causes but also what should be done to address the issue?
I believe we can’t blame one administration for the current state of our finances. This is due to several years of incompetence and poor management. To address the issue, I would propose a comprehensive audit of every department and agency in the City. The next step would be to sit with every department head or team and adjust their budgets to fund what is needed, not what is wanted.
In terms of the budget, people often call for “an increased commercial base.” How specifically do you think Lynn should go about actually bringing in new businesses? Do you believe that TIFs (tax increment financing) make smart strategic as well as financial sense in this regard?
I believe the major problem is the selling off of our public buildings. It does not benefit the City - it's just a quick cash influx with no long-term gains. What we should be doing is renovating some of these buildings into shared-work spaces and invite start-ups being priced out of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville to make their home in Lynn. We are the biggest city on the North Shore and we should be the technological hub of the North Shore. Other buildings like the old Marshall Middle School, should have been kept by the city. The city should have put out an RFP for a 40-50-year lease and rights to build to the current developer. That way we keep the land, which will appreciate, thereby growing our net worth as a city and helping to grow our bond rating.
Another pertinent topic is the increase in violent crime as well as opioid overdoses in the first half of this year. Do you think this issue has been addressed appropriately thus far? Why or why not?
No. We need more preventative programs in place to deter people from engaging in these types of activities. Just increasing funding for the police does not guarantee a safer community. We must be proactive in our pursuit to change and stop violence and drug activity in our community. We need our community to actively participate with local officials to start changing the way we address these problems.
If you had to name three things that had to be included in Lynn’s ‘capital improvement plan,’ what would they be and why?
a. Increase tax revenue by not selling off public property and instead investing in these properties. We should be renovating some spaces for startups being priced out of Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge and help them to call Lynn their home.
b. We should be thinking about ways to expand our creative economy. We are the biggest city on the North Shore and should be the technological hub of the North Shore. We should be investing in shared, Incubator, and maker spaces in our city. We should have a waterfront full of businesses that represent innovation and technological advancements.
c. Lastly, we need a full-time city planning department to assist the city with its new vision. Also, a grant writing department to supplement city budget shortfalls.
Why should Lynn residents consider voting for you to City Council as Councilor At-Large?
The next City Councilor At-Large needs to possess innovative thinking to move this city forward. The next councilor should be willing to sit with other councilors in municipalities that have turned their city around, such as Salem, Somerville, Cambridge, etc. Your next councilor needs to be willing to protect and advocate for maintaining our cultural diversity. I believe I possess these characteristics and I’m willing to work tirelessly and full time for all the people in the city of Lynn.
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