By: Tom Duggan – August 13, 2013
State Representative Marcos Devers says he wants to be the next mayor of Lawrence and given the chance, will start to reverse what says are the “failures” of the current Mayor Willie Lantigua.
“I am running against him because we are disappointed, everybody is disappointed,” Devers told the Valley Patriot at a campaign event on Wednesday.
Devers and Mayor Lantigua have long been personal and political enemies but four years ago Devers stunned political experts by endorsing his enemy and standing with him on election night. Lantigua then rewarded Devers by naming him as Lantigua’s hand picked successor for state representative.
“I don’t regret what I did (endorsing Lantigua) because I thought I was doing the right thing,” he said.
“We gave him a chance and he didn’t perform as a leader for the city. He has been a failure from the very beginning.”
Devers pointed out that Lantigua supported former Mayor Mike Sullivan throughout his two terms, endorsing him against Devers back in 2005, and contrasted Latigua’s rhetoric to his own political history. “The mayor now blames Sullivan for all of Lawrence’s problems. But, he was right there, side by side with Sullivan. He was just a part of his administration as anyone else.”
Devers said that the list of Lantigua’s failures is extensive.
“[As mayor] he started with the deficit he inherited, and he was allowed to get $35 Million in loans,” Devers said adding that Lantigua then closed fire stations and laid off police officers. “Lantigua started making charges (against the cops and firefighters) and creating scandals and disturbances the way he does whenever he is doing government’s business. It’s not professional.”
Devers says that under his administration public records would no longer be concealed and the money the city spends would be brought to the light of day. He said, unlike Lantigua he is committed to complying with public records requests and would never waste the city’s money in court to conceal public records from the taxpayers.
Devers said that Lantigua has also failed as the city’s top administrator.
“There will be no more us versus them, we are going to have a professional city hall in all departments. We are going to implement all the total quality control that is needed, like through the GIS system. So that all the departments will be linked and networked with all the other departments. Only serving information that is not confidential, so that everybody in the city knows what everyone else is doing.”
Devers criticized Lantigua for the parking garage scandal where one of his campaign workers who was hired to manage the money for the city’s parking garages was caught depositing city money into Lantigua’s campaign account. He said that if he is elected in November the kind of scandals unearthed under the Lantigua administration would be nonexistent.
Unlike in previous interviews Devers said he didn’t want to go into the details of the numerous other corruption, scandals, indictments or criminal investigations against Lantigua and his administration. To date nearly a dozen members of Lantgua’s administration and campaign team in 2005 have been indicted or convicted of corruption including his deputy police chief Melix Bonilla, his former Chief of Staff Lenny Degnan, former campaign supporter Israel Reyes, his former aid and city parking garage administrator Justo Garcia, former Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy, and many more.
“I cannot assert anything because we need justice to have due process. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So, I am not going to speculate, but what I see is the way he does the government’s business. He lost the schools because of incompetency. An 81 page report written by a commission that was designated by the DOE (Department of Education) determining that the schools were falling through the cracks after his first two years. He had two years to replace Laboy (the former superintendent) and he didn’t do it. He had a 14 member committee to choose one candidate for superintendent and out of 4 finalists and the 18 candidates who applied he couldn’t choose one because he was too busy micromanaging the schools.”
“So we have a receiver from the state because of the failure of this fellow. He failed and he has been overbearing to everybody, and the only credit he is trying to take is for the streets. But, the paving of the streets are the result of chapter 90 funds that we approve at the state level.”
Devers said that all of Lantigua’s scandals and his abrasive behavior while running the city has taken a toll on the city’s image.
“We need to change the image of the city of Lawrence. We want people to come to Lawrence, go down Essex St., up Broadway, Route 28 and not feel they have to take Route 93 for fear of going to a ghetto. Lawrence is a place we need to be proud of, we need to change that image we have, change is needed and I will bring it.”
Devers said that one of his main priorities would be to restore the police patrolman that Lantigua laid off and reopen the fire two stations Lantigua closed after borrowing $35 million from the state.
Devers is not only a state representative but is a former at large city councilor, the former acting mayor, and won the nomination (losing to Michael Sullivan) in 2005. He is an engineer by profession.
Also running for Mayor against Devers and Lantigua are Lawrence City Councilor Dan Rivera, James O’Donoghue and hero Firefighter Many “Juan” Gonzalez. Three of the five will be eliminated in the September preliminary election. The final election is in November.