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August 10, 2011

Lantigua vows challenges to recall petitions

Mayor says he wants all 5,600 signatures scrutinized; election officials nearly halfway through verification process

LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua, facing a movement to throw him out of office, showed last night he won't go down without a fight, indicating he'll formally challenge all 5,600 signatures submitted on petitions seeking his recall.

Lantigua said he'll ask the state, city clerk and city attorney that all signatures submitted by the group pushing for the recall, It's Your Right, be verified. The verification request is one of six Lantigua made in a letter hand-delivered to the Board of Registrars and copied to Secretary of State William Galvin, City Clerk William Maloney and City attorney Charles Boddy.

Lantigua brought the one-page letter to members of the Board of Registrars Ronald Martin, chairman, Lynn Garcia and Esvelia Torres and Maloney, who sits as an ex officio member, who were meeting in the City Council Chambers to get a status report on recall petitions from elections coordinator Rafael Tejeda.

Lantigua arrived before the meeting started, accompanied by Chief of Staff Patrick Blanchette. He did not address the crowd and they both left the room after handing the letters to the board.

Soon after, Tejeda addressed the registrars telling them that so far 1,800 signatures submitted have been verified "as good."

Tejeda along with Maloney and senior election clerks Daniel Tavera and Richard Reyes have been certifying the signatures.

In all, Tejeda said they have done about 134 pages and are 45 percent done.

"Maybe we'll finish by 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday," Tejeda said.

The board will meet again on Friday "to consider the results of the recall election petition certification process and vote upon the final certification of those results, if accepted by the board," Maloney said in a notice he posted about the meeting.

"Depending on the final tally and the challenges from one side or the other, I think it's going to be a little hectic," Martin said. "Our job as a board is to always be on the side of the voter."

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