There are only a handful of moments in the last 100 years when there has been a new City Clerk named in Revere.
Some 30 years ago, that moment was bestowed upon now-retiring Clerk John Henry.
Monday night, new City Clerk Ashley Melnik got to bask in that moment – being named Revere’s newest City Clerk by a Council vote of 7-3. Councilors George Rotundo, George Colella, Tony Zambuto, Charles Patch, Ira Novoselsky, Stephen Reardon and John Powers voting for Melnik. Councilors Bob Haas, Dan Rizzo and Arthur Guinasso voted for Verrengia.
“I think I deserved it,” she said. “I’ve been working in this capacity for several months and now I have the title to go with it.”
The Council Chambers were somewhat tense going into the vote.
Before the meeting, councillors interviewed six candidates who had applied for the job. Two of those candidates were the front-runners, Melnik and City Assessor John Verrengia.
Melnik gave a good showing in her interview, but Verrengia also looked rather polished and gave confident answers about his ability to cut back on his side business as a Certified Public Accountant.
Councillors sang the praises of Melnik, and they also sang the praises of Verrengia. It was almost unknown how the vote would go down.
With Melnik in the audience, rather nervous, the votes started coming in. After the first four councillors, it was a tie. It came down to Councillor George Rotondo in the end, who cast the necessary sixth vote.
Council President Tony Zambuto – a longtime supporter – added a seventh vote for good measure.
“I knew pretty much how everyone would vote except for Ira Novoselsky and George Rotondo,” said Melnik. “I thought Rotondo would vote for me, but I wasn’t sure at all about Ira. When he cast his vote for me, though, I pretty much knew I had it.”
Afterward, all those who had voted for Verrengia changed their votes to make it an unanimous decision.
That brought on a wave of emotion from Melnik, who had been lobbying for months to land the job – which is a natural promotion for her as she was the Assistant City Clerk. Though she didn’t tip her hand during those months, they must have worn on her, as her sense of relief and emotion were quite evident.
“The battle hadn’t worn on me too much but, it’s true, I didn’t show too much [of what I was feeling],” she said. “I always had my poker face on in the meetings. Last night when they announced me as City Clerk it all hit home. All the hard work finally came to fruition.”
Retiring City Clerk John Henry immediately administered the oath of office to Melnik, and she quickly took charge of the meeting.
Lost in the shuffle of the political drama was the fact that Melnik is the first female City Clerk in the history of Revere.
She said that she would immediately try to bring new technology to the Clerk’s office. Already, she has begun posting the minutes of the City Council online in a timely manner.
She also said she would like to start a re-design of the city’s website.
“It doesn’t look very professional and it’s not very user friendly,” she said.
For now, though, she’ll guide Council meetings from a seat in the Council Chambers where Henry sat for so long, and before him, where Joseph McChristal conducted city affairs.