By Ken Johnson
---- — Candidates for mayor of Lawrence will face off in a debate Monday evening hosted by The Eagle-Tribune and CommonWealth magazine.
The debate will be held Sept. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Lawrence High. The public is invited to attend.
“We are proud to take a leadership role in this important election,” said Karen Andreas, publisher of The Eagle-Tribune and North of Boston Media Group. “People look to their daily newspaper to provide them with news that is relevant and useful. Providing a forum for a mayoral debate is yet another way The Eagle-Tribune can foster community involvement and open dialogue on important issues.”
Mayor William Lantigua and five challengers will face voters in a preliminary election Sept. 17. The top two vote-getters will appear on the general election ballot Nov. 5.
Lantigua, who was elected mayor in 2009, is running for a second term. His challengers are: accountant Nestor DeJesus, State Rep. Marcos Devers, firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, inventor James Patrick O’Donoghue and City Councilor Daniel Rivera.
As of today, Devers, Gonzalez, O’Donoghue and Rivera have agreed to participate. DeJesus has yet to respond. Mayor Lantigua has declined the invitation to debate.
The debate will consist of a question-and-answer format. Participants will field questions from a three-person panel with representatives from The Eagle-Tribune, CommonWealth magazine and the bilingual weekly newspaper Rumbo. The debate moderator will be Bruce Mohl, editor of CommonWealth.
CommonWealth is published quarterly by MassINC, an independent, nonpartisan, public policy think tank based in Boston.
“We were interested in participating because we do a lot of work with the Gateway cities, of which Lawrence is one,” said Mohl. “It’s a very high profile race and there is a lot of interest throughout the state.”
“Unfortunately, the mayor is not joining in,” Mohl said. “But hopefully, people can get to know the other candidates and hear what they have to say.”