LAWRENCE — City Councilor Daniel Rivera yesterday told the first rally of his campaign to unseat Mayor William Lantigua that under Lantigua’s leadership the city has been remade from one that attracted immigrants “from all over the world to transform their lives” into one where residents feel “cheated by a city they love.”
Rivera did not mention Lantigua by name during his six-minute speech to about 70 supporters in the lobby of the historic Everett Mills building on Union Street, which he noted is the birthplace of the labor movement in the United States.
But he said the administration has driven out jobs and businesses, presided over sub-par schools and rising crime rates, and created “a perception of lawlessness throughout our city.”
As he did when he declared his candidacy by touring local media two days ago, he suggested his campaign would be personal as well as political.
“I’m a Lawrence kid and I grew up on her streets, went to her schools and my mother came here from the Dominican Republic and worked in her factories,” the 42-year-old vice chairman of the City Council told the racially mixed crowd in a speech delivered first in English and then in Spanish. “That sense of optimism and hope that this community installed in me and many others has been overtaken by selfishness, incompetence and arrogance.”
Rivera’s speech was more thematic than specific and offered few solutions to the chronic problems he identified, including a 14-percent unemployment rate that is one of the highest in Massachusetts. He said his administration would focus on attracting economic development; rebuilding the fire and police departments, which are slowly recovering from layoffs and attrition in 2009 and 2010; improving city schools, which last year were taken over by the state; and repairing the city’s image.