If Ward 4 City Councillor Stephen Reardon has any recipe for his first-term success on the Council, it would probably be his lack of political aspirations.
That statement can sound kind of confusing on its own, but Reardon seemed to explain it quite well in a sit-down interview with the Journal recently.
“I think it helps not having any ambitions for higher office or not worrying about what’s going to happen in two or four years,” he said. “That’s not to say if there was a door open, I wouldn’t step into it. If I can do the job and it’s available, I have to consider it, but really, I’m not looking to run for mayor or state rep or Congress or the Senate. Some people said I should have run for at-large this time, but I don’t see where that gets me. I enjoy being the Ward 4 councillor and I want to work on being a better Ward 4 councillor. That is really my only focus and it has made things easier.”
In a crowded race two years ago for the right to represent Ward 4, one of the city’s oldest and most established areas, Reardon prevailed rather easily over two viable candidates.
This time around, he has been rewarded with another term, as he faces no competition for Ward 4 councillor on this November’s City Election ballot.
Beyond that, many are wondering what Reardon’s political future might hold. By and large, there is a sentiment developing with those who closely follow local politics that Reardon has the ability to remain grounded when all others in the Council Chambers are headed down a wild path.
“I’d like to think I’ve brought some common sense up there,” he said. “I try to stay out of the local politicking and perhaps that’s the appeal. I am there trying to make sense of and evaluate each proposal. That’s it.”
After learning the ropes for a good part of his first year in office, voters in the city have noticed and commented that Reardon has seemed to come into his own over the last nine months.
During collegial bickering earlier this year about whether or not to allow smart phones and computers in the Council Chambers, Reardon seemed to be one of the only lines of defense in keeping sanity in the room.
“Everyone under 40 out there listening to this is laughing at us right now, laughing out loud,” he said quite pointedly at the time.
Then, during the debate about the Necco candy company’s tax break contract with the City this past June, residents noted that Reardon took a reasonable approach to the situation without letting the company off the hook.
Numerous calls to the Journal following that meeting seemed to agree most with him, with one caller noting they felt he was the only one speaking without some behind-the-scenes agenda.
Prior to that, Reardon also won a battle of wills on the Council in rolling back the starting time of the meetings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., which was and is still well-received amongst the public.
But don’t take any of that to mean that he’s making a B-line for the mayor’s office in the future, or even to the Council Presidency. In fact, he said moving up is not on his agenda.
“Sometimes people say, ‘Stephen, why don’t you try to become a judge?’” he said. “Well, being a judge is like going from playing first base to being the first base umpire. You’re no longer in the game. To be Council President, you have to kind of do the same thing if you do it right. By our own rules you have to relinquish the presidency just to speak on an issue. At this point, as the Ward 4 councillor, I’d like to have my say when I want it. Maybe Council President is something for the future, but not now.”
He said he likes his current job as an attorney and thinks of himself as a “country lawyer.”
“I do all the filing and answer the phones and argue the cases,” he said. “That takes a good deal of my time and I enjoy it a lot. I have a job and I’m really not looking for another one.”
He said he has hit the ground running on the Council particularly because he is familiar with everyone in the city. His family has operated businesses in Revere for decades and Reardon grew up here, commuting to Boston College High School. His children went to Revere schools, his brother is the police chief and he has followed local issues here for quite awhile.
“I didn’t have to be introduced to anyone up there,” he said.
Reardon has particularly made his voice heard as the chair of the Zoning Committee, and he said that he is for more strict enforcement of the rules – whether that be related to zoning or the Council’s rules of decorum.
“I think a good deal of our problems now come from the fact that we didn’t want to follow the rules in the past – that we made so many exceptions,” he said, referring to what he considers the overbuilding of the city.
During his first term, one thing Reardon said he’s learned is that the court room and the Council Chambers are not so different.
“If you think the legal system and Revere politics are not similar then you are wrong,” he said. “They might be two separate worlds, but the scenery is the same. In my job as an attorney, I spend most of my day trying to figure out an end-around rather than planning a frontal attack. The same goes for politics.”