Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) hosted a live candidate forum tonight for the 18 people who will appear on the City Council ballot on November 5. I watched the entire forum. Here’s what I saw and heard.
The host is Mary Jo Griffin of Middlesex Community College. The forum takes place inside Studio A which is the main studio at LTC. LTC’s Gloria Polites and WCAP’s Ted Panos are providing commentary (the debate is also being broadcast live on WCAP). Questions to be asked have been formulated by the LTC staff and submitted in advance by audience members. The candidates have not received the questions in advance. The first part is a one minute intro; then there are group questions; finally there is a “face off” pairing an incumbent and a challenger with each being asked a question:
Rodney Elliott: Running for 9th term. Uses experience and education to scrutinize budgets. That’s his strongest asset.
Edward Kennedy: Running as a qualified, committed and experienced candidate. Did serve on city council in late 1970s-80s. Will focus on economic development, fiscal discipline and public safety.
John Leahy: Been a CC for past year. He runs a local business in the community so he knows what is going on in the community. Platform is community, commitment and service.
Marty Lorrey: Lifelong resident of Lowell. Spent 30 years as a letter carrier. Ran to increase quality of life. Very involved in improving recreation activities; cleaning up blight; key votes on economic development.
William Martin: Fourteen years on city council. More work to do. Outlook for Lowell good; financial position is strong. That’s key to everything else we want to do in Lowell, especially things like Hamilton Canal, better education, partnership with UML. Also helps with public safety, jobs, better roads.
Joe Mendonca: Two terms on CC. Seven years on school committee. Supported budget cuts that kept taxes low. Has supported infrastructure improvement bonds for schools, roads, sidewalks. We have to make city attractive to businesses.
Rita Mercier: Eighteen years on CC. I heard your message on [several addresses] who needed things. I got them done. I will listen to you and will help get things done.
Vesna Nuon: I’m on your side for more public safety funding, for greater investment in education. Also support professional city management which has improved our bond rating.
Corey Belanger: vice chair of zoning board of appeals. Great experience in serving the city. I’ve been a businessman in downtown for many years and have helped special events. My philosophy is asking questions. I’ll focus on public safety, business development and the location of Lowell High School.
Eric Gitschier: Will fight to restore 33 police cut since 2009. Also support development in Tanner Street corridor and on Jackson Street.
Stacie Hargis: First time candidate who fell in love with Lowell seven years ago and made it my home. I want to see change happen faster. Now is the time for new visions. I’ve had experience in economic development and will make change happen faster. We must support public safety and unique local businesses.
James Milinazzo: Served on CC from 2003 to 2011. Unique public/private background. Housing authority director and assistant city manager. Also a banker. Background lets me be able to talk about important economic development issues.
Derek Mitchell: Incredible amount at stake. It’s professional management that’s brought us where we are. I’m also running because we’re not looking at root causes of public safety problems like drugs and gangs.
Van Pech: Has served on zoning board of appeals, the cultural council and the SEA water festival committee. Will bring important experience and perspective to CC.
Dan Rourke: Lifelong resident of Lowell. Graduate of LHS and UML. Running to increase economic development, improve public safety, and promote afterschool programs.
Bill Samaras: Has education and experience for CC. LHS was microcosm of city. Every issue that faces the city was present at LHS while I was headmaster. I led, listened and collaborated.
End of intros.