Don’t Mess with a Local Guy

By: John MacDonald – November 2015

The results of the Lowell City Council and Lowell School Committee elections are in. A message that was loud and clear … don’t mess with a local guy. When all things are equal, you put personal feelings aside and support the local guy.

The ghost of Jay Lang hung over Lowell unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a local election. Jay Lang worked his way through the school system and administration for years in Lowell. He grew up in Lowell, got married in Lowell, lives in Lowell and raises his family in Lowell. He applied for the Superintendent of Schools in Lowell. He did all the right things, worked his tail off and had earned all the qualifications. The opinion of the vast majority of Lowellians was that he deserved a shot. He earned it and it was time to reward the local kid that … done good.

But there was no fairytale ending and he didn’t get the job. He was penalized over petty personal politics. A career and a lifetime of hard work turned away by a handful of people. Several months later, those who played personal politics or took revenge on Jay for personal reasons … paid dearly. After the public outcry over their no-vote, Lang opponents either decided not to run (because they knew they’d never get elected) again, or they ran and lost badly.
The lesson learned in all this … Don’t mess with a hometown boy.

Those who did support Lang generally saw success. Jim Leary, an avid Jay Lang supporter, had switched from School Committee and ran for City Council. He was elected and won a seat on the council. The only two School Committee incumbents that ran were Lang supporters and finished in the top of the field.

Jim Leary will replace Bill Martin, who didn’t run for re-election on Lowell City Council. Leary joins incumbents Corey Belanger, Rodney Elliott, Ed Kennedy, John Leahy, Rita Mercier, Jim Milinazzo, Daniel Rourke, and Bill Samaras on the City Council.

The new School Committee will be Steve Gendron, Jackie Doherty, Connie Martin, Robert Hoey, Robert Gignac, and Andy Descoteaux. Gendron and Martin were the only incumbents to seek re-election with Gendron finishing first and Martin finishing third.

Now that the election is over, we all hope that the recent successes we’ve seen in Lowell will continue and that the ghost of Jay Lang is now gone, but not forgotten. It’s important that Lowell, and any community that is lucky enough to have a rising star within its midst, be embraced. It’s important to have role models in the community and be able to say that when you work hard, show loyalty and dedication, that things work out. It’s important that we send a message to young people that they too can achieve success when they invest their time in making their own community better.

In some aspects, Lowell failed when Lang lost his bid to become the next Lowell Superintendent of Schools. In other aspects, Lowell recovered quickly and fought back with making their voices and displeasure heard at the election box. The voters sent a message and I hope those who seek office in the future will put the community first and pettiness aside. Run to improve the lives of their fellow citizens, and not to settle scores. But if they don’t do what’s best … I’m now confident the voters will eventually straighten everything out.