Even as he conceded yesterday, he insisted that the spoiled ballots were for him and should have been counted.
“I don’t want to sound like a sore loser,” Lantigua said.
But he said there were 98 ballots, most of which were marked for him, “and they were not counted.”
Earlier requests by The Eagle-Tribune to view some of the ballots cast in the election were rejected by lawyers for the city, who said they are not public.
Lantigua said he gave up on an appeal and decided to concede after weighing the odds with his lawyer, Sal Tabit, and considering the cost of a court fight and consulting with his family.
“Buenas noches, buenas tardes, familia,” Lantigua said as he sat before a microphone and took to the air at 6 p.m., a half hour later than scheduled, surrounded by family, friends and City Hall aides.
The crowd that packed around him included his wife, Lorenza Ortega, a City Hall secretary, who stood just over his shoulder; Ana Medina, a member of the city’s Board of Registrars, which voted 3-0 to certify the recount results and declare Rivera the winner on Saturday; and parking attendant Justo Garcia, his campaign photographer who was indicted in September for allegedly skimming thousands of dollars from collections at the Museum Square garage and doing campaign work for Lantigua while on city time.
Lantigua kept his listeners hanging. He spoke from prepared remarks for nearly 10 minutes, detailing the accomplishments of his administration before announcing his concession. He noted that all four of his budgets had multimillion-dollar surpluses, even after he inherited what he said was $30 million in operating deficits in earlier budgets from his predecessor, which he called a “fiscal fiasco.”
The deficits were wiped out by long-term borrowing, so much of it will be handed off to Rivera, along with the $3 million debt Lantigua borrowed to balance his first budget.