LAWRENCE — Facing at least three men who may challenge him for his job later this year, Mayor William Lantigua delivered a State of the City address to the City Council last night that asserted the progress the city has made balancing budgets, fighting crime, improving schools and attracting economic development during his three years in office.
The mayor was alternately combative, jocular, sarcastic and upbeat during the 42-minute speech before a crowd of about 100 people, which he delivered five weeks after announcing he would run for a second four-year term. Several times, he looked up from his single-spaced, prepared text to remind his audience of the mess he inherited from people who preceded him, whom he did not name, and to assail his critics, whom he also left unnamed, except for several references to the press.
“I hope that at the end of my remarks that, if not all (of you) — and I know it will not be all — but most of you will conclude that what you can see, not just with your eyes but with your conscience, is that the state of the city is on the rise and that Lawrence still is and will continue moving forward, despite what you hear sometimes,” Lantigua said in his opening remark before turning to his prepared text.
After a year when he faced two recall attempts, lost two top aides to indictments and gave up the city’s schools to state control, Lantigua’s second State of the City address — he skipped what should have been the first two — had only a tentative reach into the future.
He proposed a handful initiatives, most of them modest and funded largely by the state or federal governments.
He announced what he said would be “a significant announcement to help police take weapons off the streets,” a likely reference to the gun buyback program he first announced in December.