After seven years in office, Mayor Daniel Rivera is preparing to say goodbye to City Hall.
Friday marks Rivera’s final day as the mayor of Lawrence before he moves on to a new role at the state level, as president and CEO of MassDevelopment. As Rivera transfers power to acting mayor Kendrys Vasquez, he is confident his time in office was fruitful.
“We have worked hard for seven years to make Lawrence better and I can say that an honest accounting of our efforts will show that we will leave the city better than we found it,” Rivera said in an interview this week. “Together we have made a thousand small actions that add up to progress.”
Indeed, others in Rivera’s orbit applaud those small steps.
Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Paris was one of the people to see Rivera’s leadership during the 2018 gas explosions that ravaged Lawrence and rippled across Andover and North Andover.
“The gas crisis was, in many ways, my introduction to the mayor as a leader and colleague.” she said. “It was just two weeks into my time here, and suddenly schools needed to be converted into emergency shelters, food and housing supports needed to be rapidly put in place for families, and education was totally disrupted.
“It was clear to me immediately that the schools had a partner who would do anything he could to support students and families, especially in a tough spot — and as we know that would come up again (with the pandemic).”
The gas explosions and subsequent fires in Lawrence killed a high school student, destroyed or damaged more than 50 homes on the south side of the city and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Rivera often slept in makeshift shelters alongside his neighbors.
“Mayor Rivera has delivered a tremendous record of success for his hometown, and Lawrence has benefitted from his deep commitment to service and passion for helping his neighbors,” echoed Gov. Charlie Baker, who appointed Rivera to several committees and boards over the years, including the COVID-19 reopening advisory board. “I’ve known him to be a powerful voice for his community, a hard worker and a leader willing to partner with others to find solutions....(He’s delivered) fiscally sound management that’s put Lawrence on the right track moving forward.”