By Mark E. Vogler
---- — LAWRENCE — Mayor-elect Daniel Rivera has appointed two politically active Lawrence women to lead the transition team that will assure his administration “gets off to the right start” when he takes office in early January.
Rivera, who holds a 57-vote lead over Mayor William Lantigua pending a possible recount, announced yesterday that Zoila Gomez, a lawyer and trustee of the University of Massachusetts, and Maggie Super Church, who chairs the national board of Groundwork USA, have agreed to serve as co-chairs for his transition team.
Though his election is not yet official, Rivera is proceeding with “the first step” of his plans for an orderly transfer of executive power from Lantigua, who hasn’t decided whether to concede the election or seek a recount.
“Both these ladies are recognized as leaders in their own fields who truly value the city they live in,” Rivera said in a telephone interview last night.
“They’re going to make sure that we’re going to be ready to hit the ground running in January when we go in,” he said.
Gomez and Church will participate in the selection of other members to the transition team in the coming weeks.
“We intend to work collaboratively with Mayor Lantigua’s administration to ensure a thorough and thoughtful transition in January. This is the first step in implementing our plan to make Lawrence better,” Rivera said.
“Building this transition team is the responsible thing to do, so we can let everyone inside the city of Lawrence and outside the city of Lawrence know that Lawrence is open for business and we’re serious about making the city better,” he said.
Both women were active in Rivera’s election campaign. Gonzalez chaired The Committee to Elect Dan Rivera and Super Church was an advisor.
Gomez and Rivera have been friends since they were classmates at Lawrence High School. The two graduated in 1989.
“She’s an inspiration to me because, like my mom, she’s a single mom and she went onto law school and now represents a lot of people in our community,” Rivera said. “She’s got a great mind,” he said.
Gomez is a 2000 graduate of UMass Lowell and later received her law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover in 2005. She was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in June of 2006 and opened a law practice specializing in immigration issues.
In September of 2011, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed her along with six others to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. The 19-member board functions as a legislative body dealing mainly with questions of policy and establishes the general policies governing the university.
Church, a 1994 Truman Scholar, earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in architecture from Yale University, a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and a master’s degree in urban design from the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. She has worked on smart growth issues as a planner, designer and non-profit advocate for sustainable urban redevelopment in Lawrence and across America.
“She was the first executive director of Groundwork Lawrence,” Rivera said of the nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a greener, healthier and more economically viable community in the city.
“Maggie’s connection to the nonprofit community as well as her understanding of economic development and community development will help us tremendously. She has committed her life to being a part of the community. She is raising her children in the city she has come to love and does a ton of community outreach for the city. Her pedigree is like no other,” he said.
Rivera said he’s had no direct communication with the mayor since winning the election, but said he hopes he will soon concede the race to help begin “the healing process in the city.”
“I don’t think a recount is in the best interests of the city, though it’s in the best interests of the mayor,” Rivera said.
Lantigua said yesterday that he plans to announce his “official decision” regarding the election results today at 1 p.m. on Spanish-language radio station Mega 1400 AM. Check eagletribune.com and tomorrow’s Eagle-Tribune for the details he releases.