By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE -- As his pint-sized margin over Mayor William Lantigua heads to a recount this weekend, Daniel Rivera yesterday began laying the foundation of the administration he hopes to form by naming 18 people to a transition team that will examine the issues he’ll face if the recount ratifies his unofficial victory.
“As everyone knows, we’re still waiting for the outcome of Saturday’s recount,” Rivera said in announcing the team’s members, acknowledging that the results of the election have not been certified even as he continues positioning himself as the winner. “I want to be clear that we are not taking anything for granted in terms of the outcome, but at the same time we think it is the responsible thing to do to get the transition process underway.”
Rivera, a two-term city councilor, last week named lawyer Zoila Gomez and Maggie Super Church, chairman of Groundwork USA, to oversee the transition effort. Those appointments, and the 18 people Rivera named yesterday to co-chair the 10 committees Gomez and Church will oversee, re-emphasized what had been the themes of Rivera’s campaign: attracting development, improving public safety and education, unifying a city he said was fractured by Lantigua’s leadership and keeping the budget balanced while hiring more cops and lessening the city’s dependence on state and federal aid.
Yesterday’s appointments also were a nod to Rivera’s political supporters. Many of those he tapped backed him over Lantigua, although Rivera said he will add “people who supported the current mayor” to the team. He declined to identify who they would be and also did not name Lantigua by name in his 15-minute news conference yesterday, held in the same lobby at Everett Mills on South Union Street where he declared his candidacy on Feb. 6.
The 18 include educators, businessmen, social service workers, a neighborhood association president, a medical doctor, a firefighter and the owner of the mill where Rivera spoke. The team also includes two city councilors, a former councilor and a school committeeman, who all endorsed Rivera against Lantigua. Many of the 18 stood behind Rivera at yesterday’s announcement.
The firefighter, Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, was one of the six candidates who ran in September’s preliminary election along with Lantigua and Rivera. He endorsed Rivera after finishing a distant third.
Rivera named Gonzalez to co-chair a committee that will advise him on public safety issues. Afterward, Gonzalez said he would consult with members of the firefighters union and Fire Chief Jack Bergeron before saying what advice he might offer Rivera.
“First we have to get through Saturday,” Gonzalez added, referring to the recount.
Rivera said he has not spoken to Lantigua since his election but said he expected his cooperation with the transition if he loses the recount.
“We’re clear the mayor loves the city, so we know he’s going to cooperate with us in the transition,” Rivera said.
Lantigua did not respond to a message left on his cell phone.
Rivera topped Lantigua by 58 votes out of the 15,210 cast on Nov. 5, a margin of less than four-tenths of a percentage point.
The recount is scheduled for 10 a.m. at South Lawrence East Middle School at 165 Crawford St.
Rivera said more appointments to his transition team committees would be announced after the recount.
Public Safety: Firefighter Juan "Manny" Gonzalez and City Councilor Marc Laplante. Budget and Finance: Kristen Harol, vice president of Life Initiative, and David Tibbetts, adviser for workforce development at Northern Essex and Middlesex community colleges. Education and Youth: Lawrence High School teachers Quinn Gonell and Eliana Martinez. Public Celebrations and Unity: City Councilor Eileen Bernal. Community Engagement: School Committeeman James Blatchford. Jobs and Economic Development: Marianne Paley Nadel, owner and general manager of the Everett Mills, and former City Councilor Julia Silverio. Quality of Life: Pedro Torres, general manager at Napolitano Marble and Granite, and Brenda Rozzi, president of the Sacred Heart/ Brookfield Street Neighborhood Association. Housing: Jessica Andors, executive director of Lawrence CommunityWorks, and Alberto Nunez, owner of Nunez Properties. Arts and Culture: Mary Guerrero, owner of Café Azteca and El Taller restaurants and a teacher at the Oliver School, and Victor Perez, director of Hacha y Machete dance company. Health and Wellness: Dr. John Raser, director of Community Medicine at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and Wander Morel, owner of Anos Fitness.