By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE — Former Mayor Michael Sullivan yesterday joined potential mayoral candidate David Abdoo in declining Mayor William Lantigua’s invitation to join the board that oversees elections in the city, upending Lantigua’s 11th-hour effort to restore the board’s quorum by the April 30 special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat.
“Please let Mayor Lantigua know that I appreciate the offer and the confidence, but at this time I will have to pass on the Board of Registrars,” Sullivan said yesterday in an e-mail to Lantigua’s secretary, Maria Cruz. “I know how challenging these board appointments can be and I wish you success in finding candidates to be confirmed.”
Sullivan, a Republican, was mayor for eight years, until Lantigua, a Democrat, succeeded him in 2010. Lantigua regularly blames Sullivan for the problems he said he inherited, including a $24 million deficit.
Abdoo is not enrolled in a party and so is technically unqualified to fill either of the two vacant seats on the Board of Registrars because both seats are reserved for Republicans.
The board’s other two members are Democrats.
Abdoo was the runner up against Lantigua in the 2009 mayoral race and is considering another run for the office this year.
He said Tuesday that he was “profoundly surprised” by Lantigua’s offer to name him to the Board of Registrars because his interest in running for mayor again is widely known, and because of the four-year chill between them.
Lantigua refused to debate Abdoo in 2009, saying he hadn’t “earned it.”
On Dec. 29, one day after Lantigua announced he would run for a second term, Abdoo dismissed him as “delusional” for thinking he could win.
The Board of Registrars became incapacitated with the resignation of Lynne Garcia on Jan. 25, leaving it one member shy of the three needed to conduct business.
Garcia’s resignation followed the Nov. 13 resignation of Ronald Martin, who quit the Board of Registrars to join city’s Licensing Board in an effort to help Lantigua end a similar crisis over membership on that board, which also had been unable to conduct business for months because it had no quorum.
Lantigua’s effort to restore a quorum to the Licensing Board also stumbled several times, when his first four nominees were rejected by the City Council or deemed unqualified by City Attorney Charles Boddy.
Boards of Registrars oversee elections in Massachusetts municipalities, a duty that includes ruling on voter challenges, conducting recounts and certifying results.
State law requires mayors to ask the chairs of the two leading parties in their municipalities for three nominees to the boards, then chose from the three and send the names to their city councils for confirmation.
Earlier this week, Lawrence’s Republican Party chairman, David Camasso, said Lantigua had not contacted him to solicit nominees.
Camasso also is the city comptroller.
Lantigua did not return a phone call yesterday.