LAWRENCE — City Councilor Daniel Rivera yesterday became the first to enter what will likely be a crowded field of candidates to challenge Mayor William Lantigua in the fall, alleging that the scandals, indictments and patronage of his administration have cast a “toxic” pale over City Hall and smeared the city’s reputation.
The 41-year-old two-term councilor – who will give up his seat to make the run – said the race for him will be personal as well as political.
“I grew up with my mom and my sisters, and anybody who’s been charged with domestic abuse – to me, it’s a problem to have police officers who have been doing that not be taken off the job,” Rivera said, referring to Lantigua’s recent decision to retain officer Daron Fraser after he was convicted of beating his girlfriend. “It’s a big enough issue in Lawrence that we should not have a police officer whose been convicted of it.”
About a half dozen others also are considering challenging Lantigua, including David Abdoo, who lost to Lantigua by 1,024 votes in 2009, and City Councilor Marc Laplante. State Rep. Marcos Devers has declined to say whether he also may run.
Lantigua did not return a phone call yesterday. He announced he would run for a second four-year term on Dec. 28 at a vastly different venue than Rivera chose yesterday, which may help illustrate their differing styles. Lantigua announced he would run for a second four-year term at the Rio Bar and Grill on Appleton Street. Rivera announced his challenge at a meeting with Eagle-Tribune editor Alan White. He visited other media later in the day, including Univision, a Spanish cable television station.
Rivera, who is vice chairman of the City Council and chairs its budget committee, said he will need to raise $200,000 – a formidable amount in the state’s poorest city and more than what Lantigua and Abdoo spent combined four years ago. He had $14,131 in the bank on Dec. 31, about $1,500 less than Lantigua.