Revere residents received all they could have hoped for in a Revere Journal-sponsored mayoral debate between Councilors-at-Large Dan Rizzo and George Rotondo Tuesday night at the Whelan School.
The two candidates offered contrasting styles and visions about how they would lead the city over the next four years as the successor to Mayor Thomas Ambrosino whom both praised for his outstanding record as the city’s chief executive.
The debate was contentious at times but both candidates showed that they can disagree without being disrespectful while displaying the professionalism and preparedness that voters expect in the position of chief executive of the city.
Rizzo, who owns an insurance agency on Broadway, cited his six terms in office on the Council, his committee chairmanships, and his council presidency as a solid foundation to a run for mayor.
“The city of Revere is in a great position right now,” said Rizzo, who made it known that public safety would be his No. 1 priority. While noting that cities and town face tough financial times, he said that “Revere is on the verge of greatness.”
Rotondo noted his seven years of service on the council while also emphasizing his role as a nurse manager “overseeing the care of 48 patients and their families, managing over 100 staff members with an $8 million budget.”
Rotondo said in his opening statement that he would continue to support a casino at Suffolk Downs (Rizzo also supports a casino) and that he wants “to turn Wonderland Dog Track in to a science and technology center so that the people from Revere can actually have jobs in Revere for the product that they built.”
The turning point in the debate may have come after the first question was posed to Rizzo from moderator Joshua Resnek, editor of the Revere Journal, who asked about the leadership in the Revere Police Department.
Rotondo intimated that Rizzo had evaded the question, saying “I didn’t hear him answer the question. You asked if he would maintain Chief Reardon or not. I like Chief Reardon but I believe we need a change. I think Chief Reardon has done an excellent job. I would look outside the city in order to bring a new chief into Revere.”
Perhaps sparked by Rotondo’s claim of evading an answer, Rizzo was in sharp form for the rest of the debate, directly answering questions and making the seemingly complex simple such as his symbolism of a crayon box representing all segments of the community and how they must work together. His vision to transform the duties of Mayor to include chief marketing office also underlined his positiveness and his overriding theme that “I am running for Mayor because I love this city.”
Rotondo had his moments of extemporaneous eloquence and seemed to revel in the designation that he has sought to change the status quo on the Council and he won’t be afraid to hold all departments accountable.
Rotondo’s best moments may have come in his closing statement in which he asserted, “I work for you the people.”
“If you’re from one of the special interest groups that are trying to take over Revere, make millions, and leave the taxpayers high and dry, you won’t be voting for George Rotondo,” he said. “If you’re a political insider or city department head who doesn’t want accountability, show common courtesy, or have an open and transparent government, you won’t be voting for George Rotondo.”
Rizzo’s opening and closing statements were also effective in accentuating the positive themes of his campaign. The two candidates’ speeches and their performances in the debate showed that they had prepared well and had done their homework.
“I know that I am the right person to lead our city into a bright and prosperous future,” said Rizzo in his closing remarks. “My real life business experience, education and background has prepared me to lead this city into the coming years. Revere needs a leader that has the right temperament and uses the right judgment to make important day-to-day decisions. I believe I am that leader and I believe I will be a mayor for all of Revere.”
The voters of the city will make their decision on November 8 about whom they feel is the best leader to succeed Thomas Ambrosino in the mayor’s office.