Lawrence mayor William Lantigua was Massachusetts' first-ever Latino mayor, a point of pride in a city filled with Spanish speakers. Lantigua was also a magnet for controversy who faced two recall campaigns. Then came a challenge from Dan Rivera who said Lantigua's image problems were hurting the city.

"When you can't get industry to come in here and talk to you because you're toxic, because you are toxic, you can't get state and federal leaders to come and take a picture with you or bring a check, for any special program, that is a problem for us," Rivera told WGBH News' Adam Reilly.

And in the end Lawrence voters agreed, in an election so close it prompted a recount.

Rivera prevailed, winning by 81 votes out of more than 15,000 cast. Now he is vowing to boost Lawrence's struggling economy and to heal a city that is still divided over his predecessor.

Rivera sat down with Greater Boston's Emily Rooney. Watch the video above and read the transcript below:

Emily Rooney: So right after you were elected you said that you were going to start the healing process for the city. What is it exactly that you think needs healing there?

Dan Rivera: I think when you look at the voter turnout i think that is a sign. It was such a close race, probably the biggest turnout in a generation and we feel we have to show people it is a place for people to come together.

What happened last time — it wasn't that close of an election, the mayor won by 1,000 votes and there was a mandate for him, I think that ended up with some of the attitudes he has.

I have no mandate like that. I know 80 votes means I need to reach across the aisle and say, 'We are one community, brothers, sisters and neighbors, and we really have to come together,' and I take that, it used not to be one of my priorities. We talked about putting more police officers on the street, schools — unity is right at the top.

Rooney: Lantigua was the first latino mayor in Lawrence. Do you feel like you knocked off a trailblazer in some sense, and there is a little bit of, I don't know, not resentment but —yeah, maybe a little bitterness to that.

Rivera: It is no different than any other major community that had this happen. You have a first-generation ethnic leader, that is kind of the standard-bearer for the community — he just had a lot of missed opportunities, and before, it took a lot more time for the turnover, but, you know, we are in the information age, and everything happens a lot faster, and that time frame just pushed on him and he had the four years.

I don't feel that way, because the loss that we were seeing was greater than the positiveness, the positive stuff we were getting from having the first Hispanic mayor.

Rooney: The news media, us included, because I have only been there to frankly cover the negative things, the state takeover of the school, those kind of things, you know, the local aid, sort of like all of this money that pours into the city. You said you wanted to have an opportunity to say some positive things about Lawrence. I want to give you that opportunity. Convince me that this is a thriving community that deserves the attention it is getting and the extra local aid and all of that, and you are going to do something with it, and that we're going to want to come up there and have our pictures taken with you and the checks and everything else.

Rivera: Well, that's funny — if you think about the segment we had before talking about development, Lawrence has the intersection between 93 and 495, we have rail, we have an airport, we have industrial parks, and we have a lot of commercial real estate.

We have what I think is the most robust and kind of dynamic work force, because people think about immigrant work force and they think your poor and huddled masses and we have young vibrant families coming to our community, the only place in Massachusetts that's growing.

Massachusetts is losing citizens. We are growing in that sense, and so i feel like if you are looking for a place to bring your business, we will make it safer as a starting point. City government is now going to be headed by a group of people that they know if it is not a safe place to come to bring your business or raise your family, they are going to have a problem.

So we are going to fix that but to do that if you are a small family and you want a yard and a front yard and a backyard, a nice cape, come to Lawrence for a good deal.

Rooney: All right. What about the school system? I mean, does it embarrass you at all your own city government can't run that thing? It is being run by the state.

Rivera: Yes, clearly it does not make us feel good, it clearly doesn't positively impact our property value either, but what you have to understand is that what is going on there.

Right now it's a thing that is going to have national models being built out of it and the attention we were getting is the same attention when we had money problems. Nothing can happen but it can get better.

So not only do you have an administration that is going to focus on education more, I am product of a public school system, public college and came from the projects, so I know what we need to do and I know that if we don't get that right, and I went to mayor's camp at Harvard and they were saying nothing more clearly than two things you have to do — you have to keep the city safe and fix the schools and everything else will fall in place and we are going to do that.

Rooney: You only won by 81 votes, so there are fans of William Lantigua, and they were happy about certain things he did. Is there anything you can point to that you think was a success under his administration you would actually build on?

Rivera: Well, I think that there is a need or something that is happening across the state with infrastructure, so we have to fix our streets and we have a problem with that.

Rooney: He did some of that?

Rivera: He did some of that, and he does things in an interesting manner, I will find out maybe some of the stuff wasn't done to the level we want, so I would say that is important for us to remember that it is not just programs that you can't touch.

You really have to do things that people can put their hand on and say hey my street does look better than it does better before, we will do that and bring jobs here, one reason I was

able to get votes away from the mayor, is that we talked about jobs and knocked on the door, and 'Yeah, we always voted for Willie.'

Well, you know, I am sure when I talk to people, seven out of ten people are out of jobs, and they said my uncle is out of a job, and i want to work on bringing jobs to the city.

Rooney: Mayor-elect, good luck, congratulations.

Rivera: Thank you and don't forget to come up to Lawrence.

Rooney: I will be back.