Strength in numbers – Three strong candidates emerge in Ward 4

October 21, 2009
By

This election season, incumbents and challengers have been at each other’s throats in every political race except one.

That race would be for Ward 4 councillor, where a vacant seat left behind by Councillor George Rotondo – who is running at-large – has brought out three extremely qualified candidates.

All three have been campaigning tirelessly and – despite a lot of negativity in other races – have run clean campaigns. They’ve been door-knocking, utilizing the Internet, holding signs and sending out mailers. It is a race that has stayed away from the newspapers, petty controversies and name calling, and has instead been focused on meeting the people in the ward. All three candidates, when interviewed, applauded the efforts by their opponents, saying they all had a great amount of respect for one another.

“If the three of us were running at-large or for separate ward seats, I think all three of us would get in,” said Rick Freni.

So far, the only open seat in this year’s election has been all about quality of life issues. Just two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, the Journal caught up with all three candidates vying for the post.

Rick Freni

Freni, 41, came to Revere in 1995 after growing up in Malden in order to be closer to his wife, Jodi’s, family – who are all originally from Revere.

However, he grew up in a large Italian family in Malden – and when he says large, he means it.

“I was one of 18 kids in my family; I had 13 brothers,” he said. “The good thing about it was I had six older brothers and seven younger brothers, so I always had a record of 7-6.”

He graduated from Malden High School and attended University of New Hampshire.

Now, he has three young children, Ricky, Julia and Olivia, and he and his wife make their home on Madison Street.

Professionally, he is a mortgage consultant who helps homeowners get low-cost government loans from the Federal Housing Administration.

He and his wife have also been very active in the schools for several years, especially around the issue of autism – which their son Ricky has.

The Freni’s have run the Little Ricky Foundation to help fund autism awareness in the Revere schools and have already raised over $25,000 and plan to deliver another $10,000 later this year.

He said his main issue this campaign has been about quality of life issues, especially that of drug dealing and the affect it has on the neighborhood.

“I’m tired of the drug trafficking taking place,” he said. “I’m seeing it right in plain sight. It’s not helping our family values and it’s going to drive away good people…With it comes the flop houses and the illegally parked cars. We have to stop it before it’s too late. We have to get to know our neighbors and look out for each other. I want to help turn all these streets back into neighborhoods.”

Freni also said he is interested in looking into getting rid of the meters on Broadway and also helping to keep the schools strong.

Joseph Lavino

Lavino, 31, has one of the more interesting resumes in the race.

Not only is he a pharmacist, but also he is an attorney, has a doctorate and a family.

After all of that studying and child rearing, he said he decided he was ready to give back to the community that he has lived in all of his life.

“I jumped into this race just like everything else in my life – law school and family life,” he said. “To me, running for Council made sense because I wanted to give back. I jumped in and here we are several months later. In two weeks, I’ll have either a lot of time on my hands or no time at all.”

Lavino grew up on Rand Street in the house that he and his wife, Stephanie, purchased from his parents. He actually makes his home in his childhood home.

The Lavinos have two young daughters, ages 4 and 2, and Joe works by day as a pharmacist at the Walgreen’s in Linden Square.

After attending the Whelan School and the Garfield School, Lavino attended Pope John High School in Everett. There, he met his wife and they have been together every since.

Following graduation, Lavino went right to Mass. College of Pharmacy, where he got his degree and went the extra step of getting a doctorate in pharmacy. While putting in the extra year for that doctorate program, Lavino became interested in law.

After taking an entrance exam, he found that he did really well and was subsequently admitted to Suffolk Law School. He graduated law school and passed the bar exam quickly after.

Of course, he did all of this while working full time and raising a family.

Lavino said his major concern in the ward is also the way that drugs and drug dealing have affected the neighborhood and its young people.

“I see things and in talking with people also, one of the things that is getting out of control that people might not want to admit is the rampant drug use in the city,” he said. “Some may not want to acknowledge it, but there are houses scattered throughout Ward 4. It’s a scary thing and I think personally Massachusetts is not doing enough as a state to control it. As a pharmacist, I see it all the time – young kids coming in high as a kite. It’s troubling and it’s infecting our neighborhood.”

He also said that he would like to bring more electronic/online communication to city government, and that he would like to improve communication about where taxpayer money is going.

“Win or lose, it’s been a great experience,” he said. “If I win, great, I’m going to work my butt off. If I lose, I’m still going to work my butt off in some sort of community service. Either way, I’ll be out there.”

Stephen Reardon

Reardon, 57, brings the most experience to the race.

The Reardon family was in the restaurant business on Broadway with Reardon’s Pub, and his brother, P.J., was a two-term at-large councillor at one time. Meanwhile, his brother, Terence, is the city’s police chief.

Reardon, himself, ran once before for political office six years ago. In that race, he ran for at-large councillor and finished seventh, just 90 votes behind current councillor John Correggio.

In that race, he said he wasn’t prepared for the tremendous amount of work in an at-large race, but this year he was ready.

“Win, lose or draw, I’ll know I put my best foot forward,” he said. “I can’t say that about the last time around…It was more daunting than I anticipated…This has been more manageable and I’ve enjoyed it.”

After working for many years at the family restaurant, Reardon broke away from that business in the 1990s and became an attorney – attending the New England School of Law.

Now, he has been practicing law for eight years in his own practice and lives on Vane Street. His daughter, an RHS graduate, now attends the University of Rhode Island.

Reardon grew up in Revere near Immaculate Conception (IC) and attended school at IC. He went to high school at Boston College High and graduated college from UMass-Amherst.

While Reardon has walked the entire ward (mentioning that there are a lot of hills in Ward 4) and sees some definite issues there, he said he has his eyes on some citywide issues, such as expanded gaming at Suffolk Downs.

“I’m not against the proposal by any means,” he said. “Assuming Revere residents are given better employment opportunities and it’s done properly…in terms of infrastructure, I’m in favor. Revere needs to be vigilant to make sure our representatives fight for the residents. We have a vested interest in seeing how this is going.”

Reardon is also interested in putting meters on Revere Beach (as long as Revere residents are exempted) and acting as a liaison between residents and utility companies that are working in the ward.

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