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April 12, 2013

Devers nudges toward joining the race for mayor in Lawrence


Lantigua could not be reached yesterday.

Devers, 62, immigrated to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic in 1982 and moved to Lawrence five years later. He taught science at Lawrence High School and math at Greater Lawrence Technical School for 16 years, and now works as an engineer for a company he owns.

He was elected to the City Council in 1999, on his fifth attempt. He served as acting mayor for three months in 2001, after former Mayor Patricia Dowling resigned to become a judge. His brief career as the state’s first Latino mayor — Lantigua was the first to be elected — ended in November 2001, when he returned to the City Council after Michael Sullivan was elected mayor. He served as council president from 2002 to 2004 and left the council to run against Sullivan in 2005.

He ran and lost again in 2009, finishing behind Lantigua and David Abdoo in a preliminary election. The following year, Devers won a special election for the statehouse seat Lantigua quit after becoming mayor.

He won the seat with Lantigua’s support, but their relationship has been uneven since then, although few of their disagreements have been publicly aired. He was elected to a second two-year term last year, easily turning back a challenge by former state Rep. Jose Santiago.

The seat is the 16th Essex, which is entirely within Lawrence’s city lines.

One early indicator suggests the road will be uphill for Devers if he makes a third run for the third-floor corner office overlooking Campagnone Common at City Hall. His campaign organization had just $880 in the bank on Dec. 31, and $13,400 in liabilities, all of it loans from himself, his campaign finance reports show. Only about two dozen individuals and organizations contributed to his 2012 re-election campaign, a base he will have to expand significantly in a race for mayor that is expected to cost the two candidates who make it past the preliminary election close to $100,000.

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