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Merrimack Valley

March 8, 2012

Freshman councilor deals loss to mayor

LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua has lost his seat on the Democratic State Committee to a 25-year-old political neophyte in an election that sent mixed signals for Lantigua's prospects if he seeks a second term as mayor.

Freshman City Councilor Kendrys Vasquez handed the Lantigua his first-ever election defeat on Tuesday by winning three of the four municipalities that make up the district for the committee seat, which overlays the Second Essex and Middlesex Senate District.

Lantigua won 55.6 percent of the vote in Lawrence, but his 180-vote margin was not enough to overcome his narrow losses in Tewksbury and Dracut and the landslide against him in Andover, where he received just 19.2 percent of the vote. Overall, Vasquez won 52.5 percent of the vote in the district, according to unofficial returns.

Lantigua's margin in Lawrence was slightly morea than the 53.7 percent of the vote he received when he ran against David Abdoo in 2009. But Abdoo had been a policy director in the state Executive Office of Transportation, a legislative aide to state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, a one-term City Councilor and a National Guard veteran.

Vasquez, a social worker, began in politics just last fall with his election to the City Council seat held by Modesto Maldonado. He said he spent nothing and did little campaigning to take the state committee seat from Lantigua, who made robocalls Monday night.

"I spent nothing," Vasquez said yesterday. "Not even one dollar."

Lantigua, who endorsed Vasquez for the City Council last year, did not return phone calls for comment.

While he topped the citywide vote count, Lantigua won just half of Lawrence's six wards. He won wards B, C, and D in North Lawrence, but lost wards E and F in South Lawrence and tied with Vasquez in ward A in North Lawrence.

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