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Local 888 member Robinson triumphs in historic Lowell City Council election

November 3, 2021

Robinson says the skills he learned as a union leader provide a template for campaigning in and serving the Centralville district.

Corey Robinson, a Local 888 chapter vice president in Tyngsborough, thoroughly trounced his opponent in winning the newly created District 2 seat on the Lowell City Council. “I’d like to thank SEIU Local 888 and other labor unions for supporting me and contributing so much to my campaign,” the political newcomer added.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Robinson of winning the Centralville seat. He added that “it’s one of the neighborhoods that’s been neglected, in terms of both services and representation.”
This election marked a sea change for Lowell, as the city switched from having an at-large council to having a mix of seats elected both by district and citywide. The next step now for Robinson: holding the city’s feet to the fire.
“Historically, it’s the affluent neighborhoods that have run the table and gained all of the attention. Even a basic level of services has been nonexistent for most people in the city.”
He pointed to problems with street cleaning, trash pickup and the maintenance of public green spaces as some of the ways that Lowell had neglected Centralville. Beyond that, he said, “I understand exactly the challenges facing more than 90 percent of the city’s residents.”
Running in his own neighborhood, the political newcomer beat Robert Gignac by a vote of 1,030-371. As an at-large candidate, Gignac had previously won two terms to the Lowell School Committee.
Before moving over to Tyngsborough, Robinson was with the Lowell Department of Public Works for 15 years. Starting as a steward, Robinson went on to become president of Local 1705 of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees).
“The skills I learned as a union leader representing employees translate directly into running for office and serving a neighborhood,” Robinson said. “You have to listen to — and hear — the issues and concerns of the people you represent. You have to use your constituents’ strengths to problem-solve. And you need to have a can-do attitude.”
As an elected official from his own neighborhood, Robinson will run into his constituents — whether at the supermarket, a local park or school yard. “If I don’t perform, I’ll hear about it. Being held accountable is a big piece of what attracted me to public service.”
Robinson added that “situations like that are no different from being a local union president and showing up for work and seeing your members.”
In general, he said, district representation means “there’s a great opportunity for new leadership and change in Lowell. Now the working class will get a chance to have a voice at the table.”
Boston switched to similar district representation setup after a 1981 referendum approved the move.
Before the Lowell election, Local 888 endorsed both Robinson and at-large Lowell Councilor John Drinkwater, who held on to his seat. Drinkwater works as a workforce development specialist with the state AFL-CIO.
For more on Robinson, see
For more info on Drinkwater’s council race, see