|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD The slate of candidates challenging the incumbents on the City Council can all agree on one issue there needs to be a clean sweep of the existing Council members.
Seven of the ten challengers gathered for a public forum on Sept. 28 at the Cottage Hill Banquet House. About 50 people attended the event, which was organized by candidate James Anziano.
He explained to Reminder Publications that, with a large number of people running for one of the Council's nine seats, voters might not know the positions and backgrounds of the challengers.
"The city is yearning for change, but they don't know what the challengers are about," he said.
Each participating candidate had a table with campaign material and volunteers and was given five minutes to speak. Voters present at the event were encouraged to talk with the candidates after the end of the speeches.
The candidates at the event were:
Wray is a Democrat who is a life-long resident of Springfield. The father of eight children, Wray is a Vietnam War veteran. He attended Springfield Technical Community College and American International College. He works as a transportation specialist at Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield Head Start.
He said that the Council needs a "clean sweep," and charged veteran councilors were "sleeping" through the "corruption" of the Albano administration.
Wray said that his top priority is public safety. He does not support privatizing the Department of Public Works, but he is in favor of ward representation and a needle exchange program.
Wray will be having a fund raiser Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Red Rose Restaurant on Main Street.
A computer specialist who is a Libertarian, Underwood ran for a state representative seat during the last election.
He said that city department heads are overpaid and that Springfield "must get back to the business of education."
Since he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, Underwood said he is not "groveling for a job in Boston. I have nothing to lose."
Underwood said that he is for ward representation, but opposes a needle exchange program. He would rather see needles and syringes being made legal and noted that if addicts are supplied free needles by a government-supported program than diabetics should also receive free needles.
Silverman, an independent, is the president of the Indian Orchard Main Street Partnership, and spoke how during his childhood, his parents "bragged about how great the services were in Springfield."
"A priority for me is to get the school system back up," he said.
He added that if elected he would work with the Finance Control Board in order to avoid the conflict that could result in the installation of a receiver.
"There's a lots of hope in this city," he said.
Silverman is in favor of ward representation and is in favor of a needle exchange only if it administered by licensed medical personnel from a licensed facility. He does not support the proposal of a van-based program.
Rafael Nazario, Jr.
Nazario is a navy veteran who is an aide to State Representative Cheryl Rivera. He told the gathering that "a revolution needs to take place in our city."
He urged his fellow candidates to stay involved with the city whether or not they win or lose.
Nazario is having a series of walks through the city's neighborhoods. He hopes residents will join him to discuss their issues. Oct. 8 at noon he will meet at Sumner Avenue and Emerson Street for East Forest Park; Oct. 15, he will meet at 2 p.m. at Main and State Streets for the Metro, South End and Maple-High area; on Oct. 22 at noon at the corners of Wilbraham Road and Parker Street for Sixteen Acres; on Oct. 29 at1 p.m. at the corner of Parker and Goodwin Streets for Indian Orchard; and on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. at Main and Carew Streets for the North End.
Lysak, a Republican, ran for state representative during the last election. A native of the city, he is employed as operations manager at U.S. Security Associates in Springfield.
Lysak said that he is "fed up" with the way the city is being run and one of his priorities would be to work to take control of the city government back from Boston. He would work to resolve the contract disputes with the patrolmen and teachers unions.
And he said he would "pressure" legislators to get more state aid for the city.
Lysak is for ward representation and is against a needle exchange program.
Concepcion is a veteran and retired from 35 years employment at Package Machinery in East Longmeadow. He is president of the Sixteen Acres Civic Association, am officer in the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, a Shrine Hospital volunteer.
"I'm going to be blunt," he said "I'm fed up with the City Council. They haven't done a single thing for anybody."
Concepcion said that "What I'm doing for Sixteen Acres I can do for the whole city."
"I'm not a politician. Politicians lie," he added.
Concepcion is a Democrat who is for ward representation and against a needle exchange program.
Anziano is an independent who works for Hulmes Transportation. He asked the audience whether or not Springfield has forgotten about its dreams.
"I'm not willing to give up on dreams," he said dreams such as teachers being paid as well as lawyers, large turn-outs at elections and students having the chance to bring textbooks home with them.
Anziano is for ward representation and also for a needle exchange with a mandatory participation in a drug treatment/education program.
He said his "greatest asset is a warm heart."
Anziano is having a fund raiser on Oct. 14 at the Cottage Hill Banquet House at 7 p.m. Donations are $10 per person.
City Council President Timothy Rooke was the only sitting councilor invited to attend the event as an audience member.
"It was a very sobering testimony to hear how a segment of the population views the City Council, he said.
Rooke noted that when he first ran, he finished in fourth place, but in the last election he finished ninth. He said that the work he does is for the best of the city and not for getting re-elected.
Candidate Bruce Stebbins was unable to appear at the event due to an out-of-town committment, but he had a table manned with representatives from his campaign.