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November 25, 2013

It's over: Lantigua concedes to Rivera

LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua conceded to Daniel Rivera last night in a 16-minute radio address delivered in Spanish in which he suggested racist media were responsible for his loss and cast new doubt on the validity of an election he lost by just 83 votes.

“If my name were John Sullivan and I looked like some of you, my face would be on the cover of Money Magazine or Forbes because of what I’ve done” to reverse the city’s financial fortunes,” Lantigua said after the broadcast. He was speaking to a dozen or so reporters from English-language media whom his aides initially tried to block from a studio of La Mega AM 1400 radio a few blocks from City Hall.

Lantigua said he conceded to Rivera in a phone call before the broadcast and said he would meet with the mayor-elect today to consult on the transition. He did not say when or where the meeting would be or what issues they would discuss.

Rivera, who earlier in the day said a scheduling conflict would not allow him to listen to Lantigua’s radio address, said the outgoing mayor was gracious through the phone call.

“He has a term he uses,” Rivera said. “He calls people ‘manito,’ which is brother. I took it to be a heartfelt sentiment. I’m hoping there will be a smooth transition because of that.”

Lantigua’s concession ends his three-week struggle to reverse Rivera’s small margin among the 15,175 votes cast on Nov. 5. Rivera had a 60-vote edge on election night, but the margin fluctuated as provisional and absentee ballots were added to the mix. His lead settled at 83 votes during Saturday’s recount, equal to less than half a percentage point.

Lantigua said immediately after the day-long recount that he might sue to try to overturn the result in state Superior Court, where he said he would pin his hopes on about 100 so-called spoiled ballots that were not counted because they contained conflicting or inappropriate marks, such as votes for both Lantigua and Rivera.

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