The Never Ending Saga of the Residency Requirement and November’s Election

By: Kathy Runge – October, 2014

Once upon a time, a city council suspended the rules and had a redo vote on the proposed residency requirement. They waited and waited until they had a meeting with the right councilors in attendance. Finally it passed. Since the mayor wouldn’t sign the measure, it had little chance of being approved by the state legislature. What to do? At the meeting of September 2, the document containing the approved charter changes was taken off the table with the intent of voting to put the residency issue on the November ballot. At least 45 days were needed to do this, so time was short. But did they have the authority to do this? Did anyone read the exact text of the measure that would be voted on? Would the residency requirement be retroactive? A lengthy discussion ensued. The council finally voted to put it on the November ballot. That’s 36 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. You have to laugh or cry, and if you’re at the meeting in person you’ll get yelled at if you laugh, believe me.

Why they would do this in the first place is beyond me. The referendum would be non-binding. The only reason would be to pressure the mayor into signing the law and sending it to the legislature if those in favor won the election, but I’m not so sure that Mayor Rivera would comply. If the referendum failed, would the city voters get a redo until it won? Not to worry, the issue was revisited for the umpteenth time at the next meeting. It’s deja-vu all over again. As it turns out, there wasn’t enough time to put this on the state ballot for November, so the city would have needed a separate ballot and two extra poll workers per precinct. People would have to go to the voting booth twice, once for the state ballot and then again with the special city ballot. There’s a recipe for disaster. In light of this and the extra cost of $20K that would be incurred, the council voted to withdraw it from the November ballot and intends to vote to put the residency requirement on the ballot next year. The movie “Groundhog Day” keeps popping into my mind.

With state elections coming up, I contacted each of the candidates for the 2nd Essex and Middlesex Senate seat and the 16th Essex House seat and asked them if they had anything to say to the citizens of Lawrence. I saw four of the five candidates the weekend before the writing of this column and told them I wanted to give them an opportunity to address the voters of Lawrence. That Monday I messaged all five.

Only one replied. That was Roger Twomey, a candidate for the 16th Essex House seat along with incumbent Marcos Devers and William Lantigua. Here is his statement:

The voters in the 16th Essex district should vote for me because I am an independent voice who will bring a fresh outlook to the Statehouse. I will represent the citizens of the district with honesty, integrity and competence. I have represented the City of Lawrence as a Councilor-at-Large for the last 7 years and have proven to be an honest, hardworking civil servant. People have come to know me as a man who gets thing done.

As your Representative I will fight hard to reduce your taxes, eliminate waste and fraud in our welfare system, protect your family from violent criminals and put our veterans first. I believe the citizens of Lawrence deserve a Representative who will work hard, unite our community and bring principled leadership for all the residents of the district. My opponents are demonstrably tax and spend Legislators who have voted on Beacon Hill time and time again to increase your taxes; most notably the gasoline tax which is very likely to increase year over year unchecked. In my opinion this is taxation without representation.

The citizens of Lawrence deserve better; we can do better. We cannot afford William Lantigua or Marcos Devers. I can do better. I will unite us. I will protect our families and I will be an independent voice for you.

I’m not going to tell any resident of the 16th Essex district how to vote but will tell you who I’m voting for. I like what Roger Twomey said. As a believer in small government, I’m not politically in tune with Representative Devers, although I would happily invite him to any party I was planning. If this election were between only Devers and Twomey, I would most likely vote for Twomey as I am more closely aligned with his political philosophy. In my opinion both of these candidates are good people and neither is a perfect candidate.

However, this election isn’t between the two aforementioned candidates; we have three. In November I am voting for Marcos Devers, not because I am voting for Mr. Devers, but because I’m voting against William Lantigua. It would be a disaster to give William Lantigua a say in any aspect of our government. I apologize to any newcomers who aren’t familiar with Mr. Lantigua’s escapades, just do an internet search and you can see for yourself. Lantigua hadn’t raised much money before the primary.

His pre-primary campaign finance report indicated few donations this year, most coming from Russian bar owners. It wouldn’t surprise me if he receives a fair amount of money before the election, and just didn’t want to show much on his pre-election report. Lantigua has been relatively quiet. He doesn’t seem to be campaigning much and hasn’t been blocking the streets with any bumper sticker events. Even most of the Dominican web sites seem relatively subdued in their accolades for Willy, but you can be sure he has something up his sleeve. We must not let the citizens of Lawrence be represented by this man. William Lantigua would not look after the best interests of Lawrence, especially while Mayor Rivera is in office. Willy would look out for himself. Devers and Twomey are fighting for each other’s voters and, in my opinion, Devers has a better chance of winning in a three way race. Roger Twomey is not the spoiler in this election, William Lantigua has that distinction.

Coming next month: An analysis of the voter registration list for November’s election.