UPDATED ON 09/15/2010 04:38 PM

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  |  1/8/2010
Mayor William Lantigua’s inaugural speech
January 4, 2010

Hola Familia… Good Evening my friends.

Reverend Clergy, Congresswomen Tsongas, Governor Patrick, District Attorney Blodgett, Senator Tucker, Senator Pichardo, Rep. Torrisi, Rep. Finegold, Rep. L’Italien, Sheriff Cousins, Sheriff Glodis, City Councilors, School Committee members, my friends who have traveled from the Dominican Republic, fellow mayors and distinguished guest.

Today is a day for thanks. Today I thank the people of this great city of Lawrence for allowing me to stand here tonight and take this special oath of office. It’s my honor and I will not let you down.

What a great country we live in. What a great city we live in. Today is a historical day.

Some people said it could not be done. Three years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected the first African American Governor. Not because he is African American, but because he was the best person for the job.

Some people said it could not be done. One year ago, our country, America, elected the first African American president. Not because he is African American, but because he was the best person for the job.

Some people said it could not be done. Last summer, the first Latina was chosen to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Not because she is a Latina, but because she was the best person for the job.

Some people said it could not be done. Two months ago, my friends, the residents of this great City of Lawrence elected the first Latino Mayor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Not because I am a Latino, but because I earned your trust and confidence and you believe that I am the best person for this job.

I’m honored by this historic moment, but let me be very clear to all of you. I am very happy to be the first, but being the first is only a coincidence. Being the first is only important to those who write about history. To me being the first is insignificant. What will be significant to me is that when my days are over at city hall and the history books are written, they will read that William Lantigua was the best Mayor the city ever had, and by the way… happens to be a Latino.

Tonight I took an oath here on this stage, but remember that this ceremony is far more important than one person. It’s larger than an oath of one man. Tonight is an oath of commitment by all of us to the great City of Lawrence.

Today, I am asking all of us to come together as one great city for a common cause and common purpose. Today we must rise above our differences, may they be political or personal, to face the challenges ahead and set our goals for tomorrow. In order to do that, we must all realize where we came from and where we want to go.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how I got to the place I am today.

For that I am forever grateful to America and to the great City of Lawrence and to all of you for allowing a 19-year-old boy to arrive here from the Dominican Republic and be offered the same opportunities as all Americans, have a job, raise a family, run for office, and to be elected as Mayor of the greatest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Today I also want to honor and pay tribute to those who came before us. I want to thank those who worked with us, side by side, along the journey.

I want to thank my mother, Ana Soto and my entire family.

I also want to thank my Office Manager, volunteer and dear friend Annette Webster and Tom Vallante. Also, Teresa Polizotto and I also want to recognize my number one supporter, who also volunteers to help many other city activities …Jude Charles… will you please stand up… I want a round of applause for Jude Charles.

I know like Jude Charles there are many other people that worked on our team to move the city forward, you worked day in and day out without asking for anything in return, you know who you are and more importantly the people know who you are, Thank you all!
I must also remember those who are no longer with us but helped me along the way. Let us remember Americo “Rick” DiZazzo and our dear friend Elsa Pichardo (La Muñeca). She did a lot to help me.

My friends, I wish I could keep this historic moment tonight and speak of all the great things ahead, but I have to be very clear with all of you. The challenges we face as a city are very real. The problems we face are many and they are very serious. They will not be fixed in a short time. But please know this, they will be fixed!

Our administration will work day in and day out to make sure that this city is put back on track.

Let’s face it, our budget deficit is real. The number is $17.5 million; it is not a laughing matter.

Let’s face it; hundreds of homes have been lost in this city to foreclosure.

Let’s face it; unemployment rate in Lawrence is the highest in the State of Massachusetts.

Let’s face it; our School Department performance has been under question for a long time.

Let’s face it; we have seen a spike in crime due to our economy.

Let’s face it; our streets and sidewalks are literally a mess.

And let’s face… Much more important to me is the lack of trust, the lack of confidence that the people of this city have in our local government. There is a lack of morale in city hall these days by many of our hard working men and women who are desperate for leadership in these tough times.

Well, Leadership Has Just Arrived!

Ladies and gentlemen on November 3rd, you gave me a mandate to address our problems and tonight I stand before you to accept that responsibility.

Now, I know many of you are concerned about the future, but, please be assured that my duty in the upcoming days is to find out what part of our government is working. The areas that are working, we will continue and support, but the areas that are failing our city will end immediately. Our duty is to restore the public trust in our local government and bring in the sunshine through the doors and windows of city hall.

As of this moment, the expressions of doubt must end – Some say Lawrence is not governable. Some say City Government is not manageable or some say the hell with Lawrence… some say it’s not worth it. All of this nonsense must end, let’s come together and not talk that way anymore.

Now is the time to remove the doubt and show people that are our problems can and will be solved.

With that said, let me tell you a little bit about our Community working plan.

As you know, I have already taken the proactive step asking for assistance from our state government. It has been made very clear to me that the fiscal problems that I am inheriting and I repeat I’m inheriting after years of mismanagement, are too deep to fix on our own. I have taken the unusual step to ask Governor Patrick to put any and all resources and guidance behind our city. Governor Patrick, thank you for being part of our recovery team. In the immediate days I will be asking our City Council to work hand in hand with me to allow our city to deficit borrow after my colleagues in state house pass special legislation.

This will require strong fiscal discipline on our part and I am ready to lead in that effort. I know by working together to make tough budgetary decisions, consolidating departments, and renegotiating contracts, we can and will be successful.

In the upcoming weeks, I will work side by side with our School Committee members to refocus our effort on educating our children and directing resources to improve our classroom. We must instill integrity and leadership throughout, to ensure that our students are the focal point each and every day, as they deserve no less from us. I will ask our School Leaders to work with City Hall to find creative ways to consolidate and reduce spending in all areas without interrupting classroom learning. We must empower our school principals and teachers to focus on school based learning concepts to improve our children’s future.

In the upcoming days, I will ask our Planning and Community Development Departments as well as non-profit organizations to work closely with homeowners in danger of losing their homes. We must keep our homeownership and stop the foreclosure crisis. For that I also thank Governor Patrick for supporting our nonprofits in Lawrence to address this critical issue.

Soon, I will meet with my Economic Development Team, business leaders and our Workforce Development Agencies, to put a long term plan in place for job training and job creation. We must tap into our workforce to create additional jobs for ALL Lawrencians. I will also work with small business to build a strong and vibrant downtown along Broadway, Union, South Union and Essex Street.

Starting tomorrow I will be working with our DPW department to develop a city repair program to address the needs of our streets and sidewalks. We will work block by block in an effort to make our city safer. We will also be reviewing the new garbage collection procedure, which seems not to be working properly for the whole city. That process needs to be improved.

Tomorrow morning, I will be meeting with our Police Chief John J. Romero to make sure his department has the tools to keep our city safe. I will be presenting some ideas that we feel will improve public safety, and the relationship between the police and our community. I will also be asking for Sensitivity Training for our Public Safety Officers to attend on a voluntary basis to better serve our community. At first, this training will be voluntary and I know most officers will take part. However, this training will soon be mandatory.

Starting tonight I am committed to working with the Lawrence City Council. I want to be part of your agenda and I want you to be part of mine. We must work together to move this city forward and I pledge tonight open communication with all of you. In return, I ask you to give me a chance to make change. Don't let those who fear change to stop the process before it begins. By working together we can accomplish great things for the people who placed their trust in us.

Despite the tough steps that we must take to remove our budget deficit, be sure that I will take them, we in Lawrence can still plan for great things.

Now, you all know me… I’m your friend... Willy Lantigua and I have to talk straight to all of you tonight. Things are not going to be easy. Times are tough in our country, in our state and in our city. But I do see better days ahead and I ask you to join me tonight to make our city a better place. Regardless of whom you voted for in November…. no matter what bumper sticker was on your car…. join us on this quest, as our success depends on all of you. You see, no matter how much government can do and should do, the ultimate success of this city depends on your actions and your beliefs.

As one of our greatest President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” So as your friend Willy Lantigua, I want to present a challenge to each and every one of you… it doesn’t matter how small or how large your action is, please do something that helps our city. That something might be sweeping in front of your house, shoveling your sidewalk, being respectful to your neighbors at all times, or volunteering at a food pantry or your local community center. Feel proud to be a Lawrencian. I ask you to take ownership of our city. Lawrence needs all of us!

Remember, Lawrence is not a city of Latinos or Anglos or Blacks or Asians or green or blue, Lawrence is a city made up of ALL of us. It is in this spirit that tonight as your new Mayor that I invite all races and cultures to join together to bring our City of Lawrence back to the greatness of its past and work together for the success of our future.

Once again I want to remind you that being the first is only a coincidence. Being the first is only important to those who write about history. To me being the first is insignificant. What will be significant to me is that when my days are over at city hall and the history books are written, they will read that William Lantigua was the best Mayor the city ever had, and by the way… he happens to be a Latino.

Thank you for this honor tonight, let’s get this party started, but mañana – let’s put our plan in place and move our city forward… together!

God Bless America and God Bless each and every one of you and God Bless the Great City of Lawrence!


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