The walls in Mayor Tom Ambrosino’s office were once filled with photographs of groundbreakings and optimistic drawings of developments that were in the planning stages.
There were ceremonial hard hats on the shelves, historic signed paintings from the late Norman Gautreau and numerous bound volumes of the Massachusetts General Laws. Beside all of those things were the numerous gifts given to him, mementos from visitors to the mayor’s office, from organizations in the City and from young children in the schools.
Most all of those things are gone now.
The walls are empty, the shelves are mostly barren and his desk no longer has any urgent messages sitting front and center.
“I have been cleaning everything out lately,” he said in an interview on Monday. “You gather a lot of stuff as mayor and it takes awhile to move it all out. I’ve already started getting it ready for the new mayor.”
Ambrosino was whisked into office some 12 years ago after defeating then-Mayor Bob Haas on a platform that promised new schools, Beach revitalization and, most importantly, new energy from a young Harvard lawyer who called Revere his hometown.
Now, approaching 50 years old, Ambrosino is not as young and is viewing his upcoming departure with mixed emotions – though he is decidedly ready to leave the top office, and has been for a while.
“It is with mixed emotions that I leave,” he said. “There will certainly be parts of the job I will miss. This is the time for some change in my life though. I need to reinvent myself. I’ll be 50 this year and I need to do something new. You can’t do the same thing over and over. So, I’m going to reinvent myself at 50.”
However, that reinvention doesn’t include high-tailing it out of Revere, as some have postulated.
He said he would maintain his home on Revere Beach and would not leave the city. Mostly, he said, he would be looking for work.
“Certainly I will stay in Revere, but I have no definitive employment yet,” he said. “There are some hopeful opportunities, but nothing definitive yet…I’m not ruling out politics in the future if the right opportunity presents itself. I still have a political bug in me.”
Despite all of the notable accomplishments delivered over the last 12 years – such as new schools and Revere Beach revitalization – Ambrosino was adamant about one regret when looking back at his tenure.
That regret was personnel issues, the one thing that has dogged his administration over the last half of his time in office.
“The personnel issues just wear you down,” he said. “I wish I had hired a personnel director as soon as I came into office. We have a lot of employees these days, and something is driving you crazy all the time. The City desperately needs a personnel director. There just has to be one. Absolutely, if I could go back, I would have hired a personnel director that dealt with all employee issues. It probably would have returned five years of my life to me.”
With that piece of advice for the incoming mayor, Ambrosino said he had one program he hopes the new mayor will continue – and it may not be what one might expect.
“I specifically focused on after-school programming while I was here,” he said. “I hope that continues to be a priority for the next mayor. That was important to me and it requires a real commitment to the Revere After School Partnership…In general, I hope attention is given to the new non-profits in this community because they make a big difference in the community, but they need a lot of tender loving care from this office.”
Some of those organizations he mentioned were the Revere Beach Partnership, the Revere Beautification Committee, Revere TV and Revere Neighborhood Developers.
Previously, the non-profit community was fairly thin in Revere, unlike many of the city’s neighboring communities, but under Ambrosino that segment grew and became quite visible.
There’s no doubt that Ambrosino’s tenure will go down in history as one of the most progressive and forward-moving of any mayor in the City’s history. His mark will have been left on the City for decades into the future.
He did what so many others could not do, including building a new police station, updating the City’s schools and – most importantly – carving out a new future for Revere Beach.
“The Beach, I’ve put a lot of time and attention into that, particularly the Wonderland project,” he said. “People aren’t aware of the time and effort it took to get it where it is now. We’ve just started the private development, but people may not realize it took 10 years of hard negotiations to get all the state agencies lined up for what’s about to start.”
Though the Beach might be Ambrosino’s longest-lasting accomplishment in the years to come, it is the City’s new schools that he said he is most proud.
“I will certainly have the most pride in those new buildings that we’ve built and we’ve accompanied it with real academic progress,” he said.
And as he thinks about all of those things that have come and went, Ambrosino continues to clean out the office he has kept for 12 years – a place where he burned the midnight oil more than most would know. For Ambrosino, City Hall has been a place where he has spent most of his waking hours during the prime of his life, a place where his daughter has grown up, and a place where he has found equal amounts of tragedy and victory.
“This has been my little home for a long time,” said the mayor. “I was coming out of City Hall last week late at night and I stopped and thought to myself, ‘I can’t believe I won’t be coming in here anymore.’ It is really a strange feeling.”
While a new mayor has been elected, Ambrosino will officially leave office at the end of the year.