LAWRENCE – City Councilor Daniel Rivera claimed a razor-thin victory against Mayor William Lantigua last night, edging the controversial incumbent by just 60 votes out of 15,190 cast during a day that began with the breakdown of several voting machines and ended with the ballots under police guard.
The cloud over the result brought on by the breakdowns; the plodding hand-count of hundreds of ballots under the scrutiny of state observers, and the close margin were not enough to dampen the certainty of the two-term city councilor. He led an unlikely challenge against a charismatic incumbent deft at wielding the levers of power, in a race watched across the state.
Relying on numbers phoned in by volunteers from each of the city’s 24 polling places, Rivera led hundreds of cheering, sign-waving supporters out of his Essex Street campaign headquarters into the chilly night for a block long march to City Hall. He led a boisterous overflow rally as the official count dragged on in the Election Division one floor below.
Rivera, 42, began his remarks by extending an olive branch to Lantigua’s supporters, promising in a four-minute speech delivered in both English and Spanish in the City Hall atrium that “they too will be brought into the fold because we’re going to make Lawrence better together.”
But in comments before an after his speech, Rivera said he was ready to fight any challenge to the result that Lantigua may be preparing.
He called for police to guard the ballots, which were held overnight in a sealed vault at the Election Division, and he suggested that any challenge to the results would only further divide a city fractured by the leadership of a mayor whose administration was rocked by controversy, scandal and indictments and, in the end, was deserted by a fractional majority of voters who wearied of it all.