LAWRENCE — Voters will be treated to highly competitive races for mayor and the at-large seats on the City Council in the Sept. 17 preliminary election, but there will be no contests for half the council’s district seats and for most seats on the School Committee.
Mayor William Lantigua and five challengers got a tentative approval for the preliminary ballot by yesterday’s deadline for submitting petitions, when election clerks verified the signatures on their petitions and sent them along to the Board of Registrars for a final review. A total of 21 candidates for the City Council’s three at-large and six district seats also saw their petitions verified and sent to the registrars.
Edwin Rodriguez, the pentecostal minister who led a failed effort to recall Lantigua last year, did not submit the nominating petitions he circulated, saying the ballot wasn’t large enough for two Puerto Ricans. He said he had collected 700 signatures until city firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez - a Puerto Rican, like Rodriguez - picked up petitions.
Besides Lantigua and Gonzalez, the preliminary ballot for mayor will include State Rep. Marcos Devers, City Councilor Daniel Rivera, accountant Nestor DeJesus and inventor James Patrick O’Donoghue. The top two vote-getters will go on to the general election Nov. 5.
The race for the three at-large Council seats also produced a deep list of candidates. The 12 approved for that ballot are incumbent Roger Twomey, former Council members Modesto Maldonado and Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez, School Committeeman Francisco Surillo, Vocational Technical School Committeewoman Denise Perrault, former School Committee member Mark Gray, former city Human Rights Commissioner Fancisco Brea, former City Councilor Jorge Gonzalez, businesswoman Wendy Luzon, lawyer Cara Martinoli, private investigator Chally Ramos and Maria de la Cruz.
Councilor Rivera is giving up his seat to run for mayor. City Council President Frank Moran also is giving up his seat after holding it for a year while also serving as a state representative.