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March 26, 2013

Lawrence Board of Registrars disabled as elections approach

LAWRENCE — The city is heading into the April 30 special election for U.S. Senator with a Board of Registrars that is incapacitated by its vacancies, making it unable to oversee the election, rule on ballot challenges or participate in recounts.

The four-member board became disabled with the resignation of Lynne Garcia on Jan. 25, leaving it one member shy of the three needed to conduct business. Garcia’s resignation followed the Nov. 13 resignation of Robert Martin, who quit the Board of Registrars to join city’s Licensing Board in an effort to help end a similar crisis on that board, which also had been unable to conduct business for months because it had no quorum.

“It’s deja vu all over again,” City Councilman Marc Laplante said yesterday about the back-to-back crises over membership on the Licensing Board and the Board of Registrars. “Clearly, the mayor has not learned the lessons that were offered last year when the Licensing Board nominees were appointed. A pattern has now developed. This is no way to run a government.”

Mayor William Lantigua, who is responsible for nominating members to city boards and commissions, did not return a phone call yesterday seeking to learn his plans for filling at least one of the seats by April 30. The process normally requires a review by the City Council’s Personnel Committee and then a vote by the full council, which usually takes at least a month.

Councilor Sandy Almonte, who chairs the committee, said a scramble is on to fill the two seats.

“We’ve been trying to get those seats filled for a long time,” Almonte said. “We’ve been working with the mayor. People just don’t want to go in front of (the council) and be scrutinized. It’s tough to deal with the issues in the city. We’re grasping and trying to make it work, in my view.”

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