Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua conceded defeat today on a Spanish-language radio talk-show, two days after the controversial mayor lost a recount to rival Daniel Rivera by a narrow margin of 81 votes.
“I congratulate Daniel Rivera,” Lantigua said, reading a statement on the El Tapon show on La Mega 1400 AM radio. “He has the path ready to do a good job.”
Lantigua urged his supporters in the deeply divided city to support Rivera and said he called the mayor-elect to concede before appearing on the radio show at 6 p.m. But Lantigua also said he warned Rivera that he would remain vigilant to ensure that inroads he made for Latinos in the city would continue.
“I am not going to disappear. I am not going anywhere,” Lantigua said in Spanish, to applause and cheers at the radio show. “I will continue working for the welfare of our people, of our city, the great city of Lawrence.”
Lantigua, the state’s first Latino mayor, said he will clear the way for a smooth transition in the mostly Latino city of 77,000 after a tumultuous first term rocked by federal and state investigations of his administration and the indictments on public corruption charges of several top aides.
Rivera, a 42-year-old Army veteran and city councilor, had urged Lantigua to accept defeat on the night of the election Nov. 5. But Lantigua called for a recount, which on Saturday widened Rivera’s winning margin from 58 votes to 81.
On La Mega radio today, Lantigua said he remained troubled by several “irregularities” in the elections process. He said there were more than 100 so-called spoiled ballots and other votes that might have favored him.
But ultimately, he said after meeting with his lawyer, his concerns were not enough to challenge the results of the recount in court. The recount is final, according to the Secretary of State’s office, but candidates may file a lawsuit in Superior Court to challenge the results.
Lantigua’s concession ended a divisive and protracted election season in this city, which has the highest unemployment rate in Massachusetts.
Lantigua, 58, a longtime former state representative originally from the Dominican Republic, was elected in 2009. He inherited a city with a $25 million deficit, had won praise for controlling a runaway budget, paving streets, and working to improve schools. Many in the city admire him as an immigrant like them who rose to City Hall.
Rivera, whose mother hailed from the Dominican Republic, grew up in Lawrence and has pledged to quickly work to repairing the city’s image, hiring new police officers and courting investment to create jobs.Maria Sacchetti can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti