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March 18, 2013

Sullivan still waiting for portrait to be hung at City Hall

Ex-Lawrence mayor left office almost 4 years ago

LAWRENCE — Michael Sullivan is feeling dissed.

Almost four years after he ended his two terms as mayor, his picture hasn’t been added to the uninterrupted row of 52 portraits of former mayors spanning three centuries that hang in the City Council chambers at City Hall.

“I went to City Hall to order a frame,” Sullivan said last week. “The mayor said, ‘Go to the clerk.’ The clerk said, ‘The building falls under the mayor. You have to go through his office.’ It’s getting to be a running joke that three and a half years later, they’re stalemated on what the protocol is. You’d think that would be pretty easy, once an elected mayor leaves.”

City Clerk William Maloney was out of the office on Friday and could not be reached. Lantigua also could not be reached.

It’s unclear when the tradition of hanging mayoral portraits in the Council Chambers began, but on a recent visit most of them were tilted to one side or another and looked like they could use a dusting and maybe some Windex.

It’s a rather cheerless, mostly black-and-white display of beards, mustaches and bow ties: among all 52 former mayors, there’s just one smile, on the face of Leonard Degnan. Degnan, who was indicted last year on corruption charges stemming from his work as Lantigua’s chief of staff, served as acting mayor when Kevin Sullivan (Michael’s brother) resigned in 1993.

The row begins with Charles Storrow, a Whig who served as the city’s first mayor from 1853 and 1854. Like the Whig Party, several of the mayors have quaint names suggesting another era, including Enoch Bartlett (1854-55), Pardon Armington (1866-67) and Caleb Saunders (1877).

The portraits include just two women, Mary Claire Kennedy (1994-97) and Patricia Dowling (1998-2001).

There’s just one Latino, Marcos Devers, who served as acting mayor for a few months after Dowling resigned to become a judge. Devers, now a state representative, is contemplating a run for a full four-year term as mayor. He said yesterday he might update his picture if he runs and is elected, but said he would not ask for a second picture to be added to the row.

On Friday, Department of Public Works chief John Isensee said a frame for Sullivan is in the works and may be finished as early as next week.

Walking through the Council Chambers on Friday, Sullivan joked it should be a big one.

“If there’s no issue about the size, I’ll bring in a life-sized picture,” Sullivan said. “Maybe on Salisbury Beach, in a Speedo.”




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