LAWRENCE — The news of an investigation targeting William Lantigua has strengthened an effort to recall him as mayor, organizers say.
"It has encouraged us and given us more credibility," said the Rev. Edwin Rodriguez, who is leading the recall. "People who had doubts about signing are now believing in what we were saying."
Rodriguez and other leaders in the Hispanic community formed a group called "It's Your Right" aimed at ousting Lantigua. They said he is incompetent, tries to intimidate people who oppose him, has divided Anglos and Latinos and has tarnished Lawrence's image.
"This is a not a personal attack against the mayor, but he is not doing his job," said Rodriguez, who ran for City Council in 2009. "The city is not getting better. It's getting worse."
Elections coordinator Rafael Tejada said Rodriguez has not turned in the paperwork needed to formally launch a recall.
Rodriguez said he will file the papers later this week.
Javier Negron, who has been helping Rodriguez, said they were comparing the signatures with voter records to ensure those who signed the affidavit are registered voters.
"It's been a slow start, but a sure one," Rodriguez said.
In order to recall an elected official in Lawrence, at least 100 voters must sign an affidavit to be submitted to the city clerk. Once the signatures are certified as authentic, the clerk is to provide printed petitions to recall organizers, who then have 30 days to collect the signatures of at least 15 percent of the number of voters in the last city election. That means at least 5,232 signatures are needed.
Once the signatures are collected, the petitions are returned to the city clerk for verification by the city's registrars of voters and submitted to the City Council.