LAWRENCE — The third time was the charm for members of a group petitioning to begin the recall process against Mayor William Lantigua.
At 2:10 p.m. yesterday, they submitted 150 signatures to City Clerk William Maloney with Elections Coordinator Rafael Tejeda standing beside him.
A minimum of 100 certified signatures of city registered voters is needed to start the process.
"It's done," said the Rev. Edwin Rodriguez, the head of a group called It's Your Right, which is trying to remove Lantigua from office.
Rodriguez turned over seven pages of signatures to Maloney. Maloney also gave Rodriguez a copy of the city charter which includes how a recall should be conducted.
"They are going to be in my care and custody," Maloney said of the pages of signatures. "They're not going anywhere."
The movement to recall Lantigua faced two obstacles last week.
On Thursday, Maloney did not accept the signatures because they were on separate petitions. One petition had a detailed explanation for signers as to why Lantigua should be ousted, while the other page of signatures had only a two-line explanation.
When members of It's Your Right returned on Friday, Lantigua had abruptly ordered City Hall closed early for the July 4th weekend.
Lantigua sent City Hall workers an email at 11:45 a.m., Friday telling them that they could leave early.
"Here we go again and this time we're going to hit the jackpot," Javier Negron, a member of It's Your Right, said yesterday.
In addition to Negron, Rodriguez was accompanied to City Hall by Victor Hernandez and Sucre Castillo.
Submitting an affidavit with 100 signatures is the first step to initiate a recall. Maloney said his office will verify the signatures which are then certified by the city's Registrars of Voters. Three out of the four members have been notified and a meeting will be held Thursday in the City Council chambers.
"It's not a hearing, it's an announcement whether any action will be taken for petition or opposition," Maloney said.
The petition is then submitted to City Council.
Once the petition for a recall is approved, members of It's Your Right need to collect signatures from at least 15 percent of the number of registered voters in city during the time of the 2009 election - or 5,232.
Once the signatures are collected, Lantigua would have five days to resign or the City Council would order an election within 60 days.
The ballot would ask voters whether they are for or against the recall. It would also include the names of candidates to succeed Lantigua.
If Lantigua were recalled, the new mayor would be sworn in within five days.
"Lantigua is afraid and he knows we are coming. He thinks he can make us look foolish. He thinks he can stop us. He only shows the voters he is afraid and trying any cowardly tact he can," Rodriguez said.
Lantigua did not return calls made to his office and the mail box on his cell phone is full.