Lantigua also noted that the city’s credit rating was upgraded under his leadership and that he settled contracts with the police and firefighters unions. He acknowledged some of what beset his government, including what he conceded was poor communication with city unions during his first year, when he suggested firefighters were setting fires and police officers were lazy.
“It’s been a very rough four years,” Lantigua said in a makeshift English-language press conference in a hallway outside the studio after the Spanish-language broadcast, in which his tone swung between conciliatory and combative. “Those who are not blind of conscience will have to conclude that we have a much better city than when we came to office. We have a much cleaner, safer city.”
Lantigua, 58, a state representative for several terms before he was elected mayor, waved off questions about whether he would seek elective office again.
“I just want to lay back for a couple of days,” he said. “Maybe I’ll go to Tenares for a couple of weeks.”
Tenares is a city of 30,000 in a north-central part of the Dominican Republic that Lantigua visited frequently over the last four years, trips that were almost never announced in Lawrence. Lantigua was born in the island nation and was revered there after he became the first Dominican mayor elected to govern a U.S. city in 2009. He played a hand in that nation’s recent presidential election and was given a key to Tenares in 2011. He remains a Dominican citizen.
“The people of Lawrence will pave the road for whatever they want me to do,” Lantigua said. “I’ll answer that call when it comes.
“I still have the love of the people,” he added. “That’s what counts a lot to me.”