Tuesday, January 07, 2014

An Open Letter to Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera

Dear Mayor Rivera,

Every morning on my commute to work, I drive over that place where Interstate 495 spans the Merrimack River in Lawrence and I'm struck by how beautiful the city looks.

From that vantage point, especially when the sun is shining on the mill buildings and the clock tower that line the banks of the river, all of the corruption and poverty and crime and struggle we've read about in the newspapers seems very far away.

As a former reporter for The Eagle-Tribune and a resident of the Merrimack Valley, I've always been well-aware of the troubles that plagued the city. The widely-reported exploits of your predecessor, former Mayor William Lantigua, made sure the rest of the state knew about them, too. No one questioned the fact that the city was in desperate need of a turnaround.

So while all the focus and attention was on Boston's leadership changing hands yesterday, here's hoping it's the changing of the guard in Lawrence that will become the big story.

I'll admit I don't know a lot about you. I know that at your inauguration ceremony this weekend, you pledged to make the streets safer, the economy stronger and the schools better. You've got a difficult road ahead of you, and change will be difficult.

But you should know you've got a lot of people pulling for you. People who don't even live in the city.

People like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, both of whom attended your inauguration. They're pulling for you. So is state Senator Barry Finegold, whom I know also cares deeply about the city. And it's not just the Democrats. I noticed that Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Karyn Polito, attended your ceremony. She wants you to succeed as well.

And there are people like me, whose family tree has roots in your city.

My great-grandparents--Russian immigrants--ran a furniture store on Essex Street in the 1940s, and they are buried in the Children of Abraham cemetery. My grandmother grew up in the city and went to Lawrence High School, and her brother's name is on a World War II memorial in Campagnone Common.

We all still care about Lawrence, and we're behind you, 100 percent.

I can't wait to drive over that place where 495 crosses the Merrimack River in Lawrence and instead of praying for a turnaround, I can just enjoy the view.


Meredith Warren

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