EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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September 15, 2013

Mayoral hopefuls on the record on issues facing Lawrence


Rivera and Gonzalez would suspend the pay for three city employees who have been charged with serious crimes, including Melix Bonilla, the $140,000-a-year deputy police chief charged with fraud and bribery for allegedly arranging the swap of 13 city vehicles for four owned by a car dealer connected to Lantigua. Lantigua suspended the three with pay after they were indicted or charged.

Devers said he would seek legal advice on the issue.

Lantigua, Devers, Gonzalez and Rivera offered varying strategies for reducing the dropout rate at Lawrence High School, now at 6 percent.

Lantigua said he has supported more mentoring programs and extra-curricular activities. Rivera said “a good jobs program” would give students a reason to graduate. Devers said students who need it should be provided non-traditional alternatives to the regular high school program.

All four agreed that parents are key to keeping their kids in school and that more should be done to get them involved.

“I grew up in Puerto Rico having nothing,” Gonzalez said. “I have instilled in my children the value of succeeding in school (and) learning the values of hard work and have striven to make sure my children graduate high school and graduate college. Until we are successful driving home the point to every student and parent in the city that the path to economic success is paved with education, there will be students who will drop out of the system.”

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