Lawrence’s Mayor Rivera Starts Naming His Team, Fires Comptroller

Rivera Hires Three Assistants, Neighborhood Planner
and Business Development Director

By: Tom Duggan – January 3, 2014

LAWRENCE – Less than twenty four hours after taking office as the new Mayor of Lawrence, Dan Rivera has started naming new members of his administration and removing 

David Camasso
David Camasso

The Valley Patriot has learned that on Friday, Lawrence’s City Comptroller David Camasso was fired by Mayor Rivera.

Camasso was appointed by Mayor Sullivan in 2005 and chaired the city’s pension board. The board is currently $204M in the red and is the third most underfunded pension system in the state. No reason was given for Camasso’s termination. It was not mentioned in Rivera’s press release on new personnel. 

Late Friday evening Rivera announced via press release, the names of five people who will start to build the Rivera Administration.

Abel Vargas
Abel Vargas

Rivera hired Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee member, Abel Vargas as Business Development Director for the city. Vargas was instrumental in Rivera’s mayoral campaign and was involved with monitoring the recount that lead to Rivera winning by 82 votes over Willie Lantigua. 

Rivera says that as Business Development Director, Abel Vargas will work closely with him to keep businesses from leaving the city, assist existing businesses in expanding, and attracting new businesses to Lawrence. Rivera also wants Vargas to use the position as Business Development Director to “make Lawrence more business-friendly.”

“It is critical that we attract businesses and jobs to Lawrence that can help put people to work,” the mayor said.

“I am confident that Abel can effectively lead this effort, and make the strong case for Lawrence as a business-hub.”

In a press release Mayor Rivera laid out Abel Vargas’ qualifications.

“As a candidate for a Masters in Business Administration at Southern New Hampshire University, and with a professional background in Business and Marketing Analysis, Vargas brings experience that will enable him to facilitate growth of jobs and industry in the city. Vargas’ city position is a modification of the Economic Development Director, and will be part of a larger restructuring of overall development and planning efforts that the Mayor plans to tackle in the coming months.

Wendy Luzon
Wendy Luzon


Wendy Luzon was hired as a Lawrence’s Neighborhood Planner She will serve as a liaison between Mayor Rivera and the various neighborhood organizations throughout the city.

“Luzon has an extensive background in crisis intervention and neighborhood organization that will prove valuable as she develops new, innovative ways to unify the different districts of our city.”


Kate Reilly

As Special Assistants to the Mayor, Delgado, Reilly, and Rosario will work in the Mayor’s Office to deliver high-quality and responsive constituent services. “A number of issues come through Mayor’s office, and we need a solid team who will help residents and businesses navigate through city government. All three Special Assistants have strong connections to the community, and bring local knowledge, exceptional organizational skills, and follow-through to the office.”

“This team represents a group of leaders who truly care about the City of Lawrence,” said Rivera. “We will work together to offer accountability, professionalism, and service to the people of this community. We are in the business of Making Lawrence Better.”

Rivera said that all of the positions are “budget-neutral” meaning that there is no additional expense to the city above what has already been budgeted for. 

Also on his first day in office, Rivera also demoted Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla back to the rank of sergeant, his rank before Lantigua took office. The new mayor also made good on his promise to stop paying indicted police officers and city employees, putting Bonilla on unpaid leave of absence till the resolution of his trial. the money Bonilla would be collecting will be held in an escrow account and paid to Bonilla if he is found not guilty and returns to work. Bonilla has been charged with embezzlement and extortion.

Rivera fired Justo Garcia who was on paid leave after being indicted for stealing money from the city’s parking garages and depositing the money into former Mayor William Lantigua’s campaign account. He also fired Richard Berke who managed the city’s real estate, and was a former aid to Lantigua when he was a State Representative.

Several Lantigua hires that Rivera says he expects to terminate are: Lorenza Ortega, reported to be Lantigua’s current wife and is a confidential secretary in the city’s Personnel Department; Andrys Castillo, who is the city’s recycling coordinator, and Gilda Doran,Gilda Duran who worked in the city’s planning department.

 Former Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette who was Lantigua’s confidant and Economic Development Director left his post. 

Rivera Puts Indicted Deputy Police Chief Bonilla Put on Unpaid Leave