LAWRENCE — Four candidates challenging Mayor William Lantigua in next Tuesday’s preliminary election made a public pact last night to stand united in opposing the mayor if he makes it onto the Nov. 5 election ballot with one of them.
“If the incumbent is nominated, I will not support him and I ask each of you to take a pledge not to support him,” local inventor James Patrick O’Donoghue said in his opening remarks at an 80-minute mayoral debate.
“Each and every one of us would make a good mayor of Lawrence, much better than the mayor we have,” he said. His anti-Lantigua pledge drew a burst of applause from the crowd of about 200 at the Performing Arts Center at Lawrence High School.
The mayor declined an invitation to attend last night’s candidate’s forum, co-sponsored by The Eagle-Tribune and CommonWealth magazine. Candidate Nestor DeJesus also did not attend the debate. The top two vote-getters of the six men running for mayor will face off against each other in November’s general election.
State Rep. Marcos Devers, Lawrence firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez and City Councilor Daniel Rivera all answered emphatically that they would endorse the last man standing against Lantigua when questioned by one of the panelists later in the debate.
“I know I’m going to defeat Mr. Lantigua,” boasted Devers, who has failed in two previous campaigns for mayor — including the one four years ago when Lantigua became Lawrence’s first elected Hispanic mayor.
Devers, who became the city’s first Latino mayor — elected by the City Council to finish the final months of Mayor Patricia Dowling’s term in 2001 when she resigned to become a district court judge — then conceded that in the event he loses next Tuesday, “I will support whoever is the one to go against him (Lantigua).”