BY KEITH EDDINGS
---- — LAWRENCE -- More than two hours after it began, the recount of all 15,210 ballots cast in the Nov. 5 election that left Mayor William Lantigua 58 votes behind challenger Daniel Rivera, has produced few challenges and no official numbers.
Overseen by the candidates, swarms of their volunteers and lawyers and a team of observers sent by Secretary of State William Galvn, election workers are hand-counting the ballots one by one in a tedious process that is expected to produce a dramatic result -- an official wnner -- by the end of the day.
The count began about 11 a.m. in the gym of the South Lawrence East Middle School. Shortly after 1 p.m., ballots from Districts B and C had been talllied, leaving four districts to go.
Just four of the thousands of ballots recounted by that point were challenged by the candidates, meaning they disagreed with how election workers awarded the four votes.
It could not be determined who won the four challenges because the Board of Registrars, which will have the final say today and certify a winner, was working at a table that was roped off from the public.
After the board ruled on the four disputed ballots, Lantigua protested one of its decisions, suggesting he may be laying the groundwork for a court challenge.
Lantigua would not comment on the process as it was unfolding. Patrick Blanchette, Lantigua's economic development direcot and a a key political strategist for the mayor, said only, "It seems to be working smoothly."
Rivera said, "We're doing this like we're going to govern the city -- in a professional, thorough and thoughtful manner. This is too important."