Espinola Aims to Make Lawrence More Self Sufficient

October 31, 2018 GMT

LOWELL -- Joe Espinola, the Republican facing former state senator Barry Finegold at the polls on Nov. 6 for the open 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate seat, is clear about his priorities if elected.

The retired Lowell police officer’s pitches include using vocational schools as learning spaces for those struggling with drug addiction and providing trade education to local youth who weren’t admitted into the vocational schools within the district.

If he wins the seat, Espinola said his number one priority would be to make Lawrence self-sufficient and work on giving the school system back to the city. A receivership board currently runs the city’s schools for the state.

“Right now there are elected officials that are pretty much chess pieces, which doesn’t lead to anything,” he said.

Espinola shared his views last Monday during a sitdown with The Sun’s editorial board. Public service, he said, is driving him to run for the seat and if elected Espinola said he’d address school-related issues such as the conditions of individual school buildings, as well as opiates. To help tackle the opioid crisis, Espinola suggested a three-prong approach centered on body, mind, and health.

“When you fix their health, you take the need of them to have heroin in their system,” Espinola said.

Espinola said Lawrence, Dracut, Andover, and Tewksbury -- the four communities in the 2nd Essex and Middlesex state Senate District -- have access to vocational schools that sit idle from 4 p.m. until 7 a.m. the following day.

“Why can’t we teach somebody who has lost their way to addiction?” Espinola said. “A multi-program of trades -- carpentry, plumbing, electric -- and spend GI money if someone is a veteran. Spend some money from the federal government on teaching somebody to have a trade so when they wake up in the morning, they have a worth. They have a job. They have a means that can get them an apprenticeship.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.