Defeated Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua seeks ballot recount

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua will seek a recount in the Nov. 5 mayoral race, according to his lawyer.

Only 57 votes separate Lantigua from his challenger, City Councilor Daniel Rivera, who has already claimed victory and urged the mayor to concede the race.

But Lantigua’s lawyer, Sal Tabit, said the margin is too slim to feel certain yet about the outcome of the race. More than 15,000 ballots were cast in the mayoral race and more than 260 had to be counted by hand when voting machines in some precincts broke down, Tabit said.

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“We just want to make sure that every vote is accounted for,” he said. “That’s why there is this process, because there are close elections. At this point, [Lantigua’s] supporters are really encouraging him to exhaust every effort to make sure that the vote is accurate.”

Lantigua could not immediately be reached for comment today. His voice mail box was full.

Tabit said the mayor is “pretty tired” after a trying campaign.

“It’s difficult for both candidates,” he said. “Everyone has campaigned extremely hard, a lot of sleepless nights, and to have something come down to less than half of one percent of the vote is taxing.”

Rivera led Lantigua by 60 votes in the unofficial count announced after Tuesday’s election and then came out 57 votes ahead after a review of provisional ballots Friday.

Lantigua was first elected in 2009 as the state’s first Latino mayor. He has won praise for balancing the budget and fixing some of the city’s streets, but his term has been marred by criminal investigations.

Though Lantigua has not been charged in any crimes, three of his allies were indicted on state corruption charges, and another was convicted in federal court of bribery, lying to a federal agent, and obstruction of justice.

In the September primary, Lantigua won 48 percent of the vote, with Rivera far behind in the six-way race with 23 percent.

In a phone interview today, Rivera expressed disappointment that Lantigua had chosen to keep the city “on pause” while residents await a resolution.

“It’s too bad, because the mayor had an opportunity for a leadership moment where he could have brought this community together,” he said. “What we know of [Lantigua] is that he will do whatever is in his best interest despite the best interests of the city.”

Rivera said he had already asked Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin to oversee any potential recount, to ensure the integrity of the process.

“We fought for every vote, and we’re going to fight to protect every vote,” Rivera said. “We’re going to make sure [Lantigua] doesn’t try to run roughshod on the process of a recount.”

In the meantime, Rivera will continue to assemble his transition team and prepare to take office in January, he said.

“Everybody needs to know that Lawrence is back in business,” Rivera said.