EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 5, 2013

Challenger leads cheering, sign-waving supporters

Rivera nips Lantigua by 60 votes in bitter mayoral race


“It’s important for us to come together as a community,” Rivera said. “I hope the Lantigua team will see that and will not want to drag this thing out.”

Lantigua, 58, like Rivera, remained behind closed doors until about 10 p.m., then addressed a dwindling crowd at his Essex Street campaign headquarters a block from City Hall. Before the remarks, his chief of staff, Frederick Diaz, ejected an Eagle-Tribune reporter from the storefront so Lantigua’s remarks were not available.

Other top administration officials also were on duty for Lantigua yesterday, including Building Commissioner Peter Blanchette, who held a sign for Lantigua outside a polling place at the Relief’s In from 7 a.m. until after dark.

For Lantigua, who served three terms as a state representative before he was elected mayor by a 1,000- vote margin in 2009, it was his first defeat at the polls.

City Clerk William Maloney released the results at 10:45 p.m. – nearly four hours after the polls closed – but they were only bottom-line results for mayor and for the City Council and School Committee races that also were on the ballot yesterday. Maloney did not release results in any of the city’s 24 wards, so it was impossible to determine how Rivera racked up his fractional margin of victory.

It also was unclear whether Rivera’s extremely tight margin of victory – he received 50.2 percent to Lantigua’s 49.8 – will automatically trigger a recount.

If the vote holds up, it would be a remarkable upset for a two-term city councilor who topped a field of five challengers in the preliminary election on Sept. 17 but at the same finished a distant second to Lantigua. The mayor won nearly half the vote despite the crowded field in the preliminary and out-polled Rivera by 3,000 votes, winning 21 of the city’s 24 wards.

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