By Stephen Quigley
Revere voters will be heading to the polls next Tuesday November 3, to decide the outcome in several contested municipal races. Among the races to be decided will be Mayor, Councillor-at-Large, School Committee and Ward 4 Councillor. The voter turnout is predicted to be between 30 to 35 percent or between 7,500 to 9,000 voters. The candidates for Mayor and Councillor-at-Large were selected in the September primary where 20 percent or 5,500 voters went to the polls.
The most watched race is for the office of Mayor where incumbent Dan Rizzo is seeking his second four-year term against City Councillor at-Large Brian Arrigo. Rizzo topped the three person primary receiving 2,782 votes narrowly edging out Arrigo by 114 votes. A third candidate in the September primary was Cheryl Whittredge who garnered only 81 votes and was not nominated.
In the weeks since the September primary, both candidates have been waging a hard-fought campaign as each candidate and their supporters have made a concerted effort to meet as many voters as possible. Rizzo has been emphasizing his record over the last four years, such as citing an increase in the city’s free cash account and added police officers and firefighters while Arrigo has raised issues faulting the way that the free cash has been spent under Rizzo saying that free cash should be spent on one-time expenditures and he has been stressing his record while on the City Council and his expertise in fiscal management. Each candidate has received significant support from several City Councillors. With the increased number of voters projected to go to the polls, the winning margin could be very close.
Ten candidates are seeking five council seats. Three new faces as well as four incumbents and three former City Councillors are vying for the five seats. Among the incumbent City Councillors who finished in the top five spots in the September primary are Jessica Giannino, Robert Haas, Steven Morabito and Tony Zambuto. Former Councillor at-Large George Rotondo finished a strong second in September following top vote getter Giannino. Haas, Morabito and Zambuto all finished ahead of the sixth place finisher former Councillor at-Large John Correggio. Political newcomer Matt Amato finished seventh in September. Priscilla Nickerson, Michael Falzone, are also both on the ballot for the first time and former City Councillor Ed O’Harra rounded out the field.
All candidates have worked hard since the September primary and have been meeting voters at different functions and going door to door in their quest for a seat.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE RACE
Voters have nine candidates seeking six seats in the election. All the incumbents are seeking re-election to another term. The incumbents are Carol Tye, Stacey Rizzo, Dan Maguire, Donna Wood Pruitt, Michael Ferrante and Susan Gravellese. Hoping to win a seat are Gerry Visconti, a community organizer who has three children in the local schools; Al Terminiello, who has been active in the community especially in the Revere League for Special Needs for many years and a former President of the Revere Chamber of Commerce, and former School Board member and Revere Public School Principal Fred Sanella. With no September primary to judge on how their message is being received by the voters, all candidates have been working hard meeting the voters and talking about issues like classroom size and the possibility of construction of a new Revere High School.
WARD 4 COUNCILLOR
Current Councillor Stephen Reardon is working hard to fend off his opponent Patrick Keefe. Both candidates have been stressing what they consider the needs in their ward. Reardon has not only highlighted his accomplishments for Ward Four residents but also the expertise that he brings to the City Council as a Chair of the Zoning Subcommittee of the Council that oversees new development in the City of Revere. Keefe has stressed his view of the needs in Ward 4 that more strreets and sidewalks need to be repaired.
Other candidates on the November ballot include current Ward Councillors who are running unooposed. This group includes Ward One Councillor Joanne McKenna who won a special election for the seat in May, Ward Two Councillor Ira Novoselsky, Ward Three Councillor Arthur Guinasso, Ward Five Councillor and President of the City Council John Powers and Ward Six Councillor Charlie Patch.
Voters are reminded that the polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm next Tuesday, November 3 and poll locations are as follows:
With Election Day less than a week away, The Revere Journal staff asked Mayor Dan Rizzo and Councillor at-Large and Mayoral candidate Brian Arrigo what they consider the top three challenges facing Revere in the next four years. The following are their responses:
By Councilor at-Large Brian Arrigo
1) A real balanced budget
I voted against Mayor Rizzo’s last two budgets because I don’t believe that he has been a good manager of Revere’s finances.
Mayor Rizzo has been promising Revere millions of dollars in new revenue from a casino at Suffolk Downs. He created larger and larger budgets in anticipation of that revenue, increasing spending by more than $30 million during his first term. While Mayor Rizzo increased spending, he also gave up Revere’s right to mitigation money from Wynn Resorts in Everett. Instead of finding a way out of the failed host city agreement, and making a casino mitigation agree with Wynn Resorts, Mayor Rizzo allowed the clock to run out. Mayor Rizzo decided against getting money for Revere schools and public safety, and instead made the city a front for Mohegan Sun’s lawsuit against Wynn and the Gaming Commission.
The cost of projects, like the new stadium, which originally were to be largely paid for with casino mitigation money, instead fell on Revere tax-payers. Mayor Rizzo’s larger budgets also included dozens of new city jobs, putting the city on the hook for both current salaries and long-term pension obligations. This increased spending hasn’t led to better public services.
As a City Councillor, I have pushed the city to adopt a series of new programs to deliver more transparent budgets and better city services. Mayor Rizzo has announced grants and task forces to deal with those issues, but we see little action, even with prodding from the City Council. That isn’t how City Hall is going to operate when I am Mayor. An Arrigo Administration is going to draw on my experience making some of the toughest budgets in Massachusetts: at the State House, as part of Somerville’s revival, and turning around the MBTA. There are a lot of people who don’t think that Revere can do better, that we just need to accept how things are; I know that Revere can do better, and with your help, we will.
Planning For Meaningful Development:
As your City Councillor, I pushed for a comprehensive planning process. When “Plan Revere” was announced last year, I thought that Mayor Rizzo was finally going in the right direction. But as we’ve seen with Shaw’s and the on-going lawsuit against Wynn Resorts, he is failing to move this city forward.
That debacle at the Shaw’s site is the best example of how the current administration has failed to do it’s job for residents and for prospective developers. Mayor Rizzo and his team at City Hall pushed the development of dozens of residential units, even touting it on his campaign website. However, when Beachmont residents rebelled against the idea in the midst of the campaign season, Mayor Rizzo changed positions and is now calling for a residential moratorium in Revere.
The most important element of any development is community engagement. Revere’s residents need to feel like their opinions are listened to and valued. The Shaw’s site is only the most recent example of residents fed up with Revere’s lack of a meaningful, comprehensive plan for how we grow and develop as a city. Development in Revere needs to be done thoughtfully and comprehensively, with residents getting a real seat at the table.
I have a record of looking out for and listening to Revere residents, and fighting for solutions to our problems. It is time for an administration that can be a dependable partner for Revere residents and for investors who want to keep improving the quality of life in the city.
Revere is suffering from the opioid epidemic, with the highest overdose death rate in the region. When I look around the state and see what Gloucester and Norwood are doing, I see that it is possible for City Hall to take the lead in addressing this epidemic. However, after talking to residents and folks engaged in the fight against opioids in Revere, I am convinced the city’s current strategy of deploying Narcan and offering drug drop off sites is not enough. That will change when I am Mayor.
Revere needs to develop a comprehensive strategy on how best to leverage local government resources to address local impact. In order to develop a comprehensive strategy on how best to use our resources, Revere first needs to designate someone to take the lead on this complex issue; someone who will be responsible for developing a plan and coordinating efforts across health, education, and policing fields, and who will be responsible for monitoring the results achieved. That starts with closely analyzing and then tracking all available data from a variety of sources (public health, criminal justice, education) to more precisely define the local impact and problem and measure our progress.
Most of the strategies for reducing overdoses are going to be public health strategies which primarily focus on treatment and prevention. Law enforcement will be important, but enforcement will never be enough. Governor Baker recently convened a task force whose recommendations specifically focused on treatment, education, and prevention, and he has now offered legislation that seeks to put those recommendations into law.
By Mayor Dan Rizzo
Over the next four years, I will look to continue to build on our shared accomplishments with three important areas – strengthening public safety, improving educational opportunities and growing our local economy.
Today, I see a city that is safer than it was four years ago. We increased foot patrols, added a new police substation on Broadway, and went from 84 police officers to 103 officers. That is great progress in three and a half years, but we need to still add more officers. A city of our size should have over 130 police officers, and over the next four years that will be a top priority for my administration.
I am proud to say that Revere had led the way in creating opportunities for our children. All Revere schools are recognized as in the top tier of schools in the Urban School District. Last year, Revere High School was named Best Urban High School in America. We have also built a brand new elementary school, the brand new Harry Della Russo football stadium, 2 new tennis courts, 2 new basketball courts, 4 refurbished playgrounds, and recently broke ground on 3 new little
league fields behind St. Mary’s as well as Revere’s first ever Dog Park. We need to build on these accomplishments and over the next four years focus on securing state funding for a new high school.
I am also looking forward to continuing the progress we have made in regards to the city’s finances. I am proud to have brought my private sector experience to City Hall, and in doing so, have made city finances the strongest they’ve ever been. In the last three years, we have doubled Revere’s rainy day fund, and achieved the highest bond rating in our City’s history. Last year, for the very first time, Revere received the “Distinguished Budget Presentation” award from the Government Finance Officers Association. Our city’s budget is balanced, stronger than ever, and reflects our shared priorities. I will work to continue these improvements and over the next year the city will be rolling out an online bill payment system for all residents, opening up the city’s checkbook to the website and continuing to make our budget process inclusive and transparent with a participatory budgeting process which gives Revere residents a voice on how we spend our funds.
Together, we have achieved great results for Revere. Crime is down, our schools are the best in the region, the city’s finances are the strongest they have ever been, and we are creating more jobs and opportunities than ever before. But our work is not done. The status quo will never stand. It’s a new day for Revere. With your continued support, we will create our shared vision that will help plan Revere’s future. On November 3rd I respectfully ask for your vote.