EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 16, 2013

Large turnout expected for primary election

LAWRENCE — Rafael Tejeda, the city’s bilingual election coordinator, says he expects a 25 percent voter turnout for tomorrow’s preliminary election in which Mayor William Lantigua is facing five challengers.

“This is a big number for a primary where usually 22 to 23 percent vote,” said Tejeda. There are 36,882 registered voters in the city.

The two top vote getters in the mayoral vote will win spots on the November general election ballot.

There are also contests for city council and school committee on tomorrow’s ballot.

Tejeda said his estimate is based on the fact that Lawrence has 2,479 new registered voters - most of whom moved from Haverhill, Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Billerica, Boston and New York. Also promising, he said is that many young adults have registered to vote.

“I think it has to do with their parents encouraging them and that years ago we had zero participation by teenagers working at the polls and the number has increase tremendously,” Tejeda said.

Lantigua, who was elected as the first Hispanic mayor in Massachusetts in 2009, is seeking re-election for a second term. He will face City Councilor Daniel Rivera, Lawrence firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, State Rep. Marcos A. Devers and residents Nestor DeJesus and James M. O’Donoghue.

Three of the members who took part in several failed efforts to recall Lantigua gathered more than 500 signatures asking Secretary of State William F. Galvin to monitor the primary and general elections.

“It’s not a secret that there has been irregularities in the city’s elections,” said Victor Tolentino, a resident for 15 years. Tolentino along with Johny Castillo and the Rev. Edwin Rodriguez collected the signatures during a two week period by going door to door.

In the letter, they requested Galvin oversee the elections “it is well documented that Mayor Lantigua’s campaign practices for the last several years have led to allegations of voter and identity fraud.”

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