LAWRENCE — The dusty uneven rows of dour, mostly black-and-white portraits of mayors dating to the city’s first — Charles Storrow, 1853-54 — in City Hall got a colorful 21st century addition last night when a portrait of former Mayor Michael Sullivan was hung in a brief ceremony in the City Council chambers.
The unveiling came four years and three months after Sullivan’s second term ended, but the city’s 52nd mayor waved off a question about whether the delay was due to bad blood between himself and William Lantigua, the city’s the 53rd. Sullivan, who was mayor from 2001 to 2010, suggested as much last year, when he said his first effort to get his portrait hung ended with a run-around.
Yesterday, he blamed the delay on himself, including the flip-flopping he said he did about the image he wanted to enshrine his legacy at City Hall. In a light moment last year, he said the possibilities included a snapshot of himself in a Speedo at Salisbury Beach.
In the end, the former mayor settled on something more traditional: blue tie, dark suit, hands folded neatly in his lap, slight smile.
After he and City Council President Modesto Maldonado slid a yellow veil from the portrait before an audience that included Mayor Daniel Rivera and State Rep. Marcos Devers, who served as acting mayor for three months in 2001, Sullivan suggested the job is a rough one. He left the city with a $21 million deficit in its operating budgets.
“Councilor Reyes, I sat in your seat for two years,” he said, referring to the term he served on the council before he was elected mayor. “I don’t know if that’s the unlucky seat, or what.”
Sullivan’s portrait joins the line of beards, mustaches and bow ties favored by the all-white and all-male mayors of the 19th century and most of the 20th. Eventually, that string gave way to two women, Mary Claire Kennedy (1994-97) and Patricia Dowling (1998-2001), followed by two Latinos, Devers and Lantigua.