Lantigua said a solution to all that is to push local businesses and industries to hire city residents first.
“Our unemployment is high, but it’s lower than when I took office and for the first time in a decade, the mayor’s office is actually fighting for Lawrence jobs for Lawrence residents,” Lantigua said. “When I am re-elected, I will look to implement more local incentives for companies to hire Lawrence residents, train Lawrence residents and promote Lawrence residents.”
Devers said he also would reward local industries and businesses that hire city residents first and said he would pursue more federal job-training grants.
Gonzalez said he also would better market the city’s assets to begin rebuilding a middle-class, including cheap rents and a growing community college campus, and he said he would repair the city’s reputation.
“Right now, the perception of Lawrence is a laughingstock to the rest of the world because of the chaos and criminality that exists under the Lantigua administration,” Gonzalez said. “Until we turn the perception of our city around, property values will remain stagnant as middle-class families look elsewhere to live.”
“As mayor, I would spend half my time on economic development, with a focus on bringing jobs to this community,” Rivera said.
The incumbent and his challengers split on what successes Lantigua has had rehabbing the mills, restoring vitality to downtown and driving blight from the neighborhoods. They also split on who should lead that effort.
Lantigua said Lawrence enjoyed “unprecedented growth in may of our historic mill buildings” during his four years in office, citing the ongoing renovations at Monarch Lofts and Malden Mills, two former mill buildings being converted to residential lofts.
He said Economic Development Director Patrick Blanchette is working on an initiative to “bring our downtown back to life,” which he said would be announced in January and would be a focus of his second term.