LAWRENCE - Mayor William Lantigua was not on the ballot yesterday, but he was on a lot of minds as voters cast ballots in preliminary contests that gave at least a psychological lift to both his opponents and supporters.
Lantigua inserted himself deeply into many of the City Council and School Committee races, giving radio interviews, distributing palm cards, and directing a get-out-the-vote campaign. The results suggest he still has sizable political sway in the city even after the summer's failed effort to recall him and as a federal grand jury in Boston considers charges against him.
He began the day by offering a list of his favored candidates in a morning interview on Spanish-language radio, then headed to the street outside the South Lawrence East schools to command a voter turnout effort for a write-in candidate to oppose Councilor Marc Laplante in District F.
The hours-long effort, coordinated from the flatbed of Lantigua's Chevrolet Avalanche, produced 120 write-in votes for Randy Jaime, 70 more than needed to put him on the November ballot. Lantigua recruited Jaime, the brother of Lantigua's City Hall receptionist, Jorge Jaime, to run as a sticker candidate.
Lantigua and Jorge Jaime declined to comment yesterday.
"He's in his element," Laplante said from the other side of Osgood Street as he watched Lantigua, Jorge Jaime and several others work their cell phones. "What he doesn't do in governing, he does pretty well in campaigning."
Other Lantigua favorites also did well yesterday, including City Council President Frank Moran, who topped the six candidates running for three at-large seats on the council, and Kendrys Vasquez, a 24-year-old social worker who came in first in a race against two former City Council members seeking to replace retiring Council Modesto Maldonado in District C.