LAWRENCE — Holding 16 pages with the signatures of 358 registered voters, Josue Hernandez was at City Hall yesterday in the yet another attempt to recall Mayor William Lantigua.
"Even though we only need 100 signatures, I wanted to turn them all in to send a message that we're still here," said Hernandez, president of Uniting Lawrence, the group behind this latest recall effort.
This is the fourth attempt in forcing a recall election of Lantigua in the last five months. In July, the group It's Your Right brought forth and affidavit signed by 100 voters, but it was rejected by City Clerk William Maloney because of the difference in wording on different pages. A second affidavit was filed and the effort moved to the second round, requiring petitions signed by 5,232 registered voters. That effort failed in August when Maloney said only 4,366 of the 5,483 signatures collected could be verified.
Uniting Lawrence restarted the effort last month and it too failed at the first step. Despite having enough signatures to proceed, City Attorney Charles Boddy would not accept the affidavit because it was not notarized. However, Boddy did accept It's Your Right's affidavit despite it not being notarized.
"I see a better outcome this time," said Domingo Melendez, who accompanied Hernandez to City Hall. "We're better prepared and organized."
Both Hernandez and Melendez said the timing is right for a recall of Lantigua. Today, the state is expected to put the city's failing public school system into receivership. The trial of former schools Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy is also expected to start today. Laboy is charged with fraud and embezzlement.
"People want change not only in the schools, but also in the city," Hernandez said.
Hernandez pointed out that Lantigua took public blame for the city's schools at a meeting with the state Department of Education last week.