By Sue Ellen Woodcock
After a nearly nine hour recount that spread over two days it has been confirmed that Councillor at-Large Brian Arrigo will be the next mayor of Revere, topping incumbent Dan Rizzo with a vote of 5,210 to 5,102.
When the announcement was made Rizzo shook hands with Arrigo and offered his assistance if needed.
“I’m excited for the outcome and I hope this satisfies the Rizzo campaign so we can move forward,” Arrigo said moments before the numbers were announced. “This has been a long, drawn out process.”
Arrigo will be sworn in Monday at 10 a.m. in the Council Chambers. The City Council will be sworn in at 6 p.m. and the School Committee will be sworn in at 6:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Inauguration is planned for late January.
It was Rizzo’s camp which called for the recount after the Nov. 3 election after the final numbers showed Rizzo losing by 118 votes. The Nov. 3 results had Arrigo with 5,209 and Rizzo with 5,091 votes. At that time there were 11 write-ins and 101 blanks.
At the end of the recount Arrigo actually picked up a vote and Rizzo lost 11. There were also 85 blanks and nine write-ins for a total of 10, 406 votes being cast. Six less than the Nov. 3 vote of 10,412 votes cast.
One of the most common comments made by people watching the process was that “it was like watching paint dry.”
“It may sound hokey, but this is democracy in its true form,” Rizzo said. “We can prove that every vote counts.”
After the Nov. 3 election, Rizzo went away to Jamaica but during that time he authorized his brother to sign recount petitions on his behalf. The Board of Election Commissioners met Nov. 23 to decide if a recount petition filed by Rizzo’s camp would be accepted. The commissioners took no action. As a result Rizzo’s attorneys filed a suit in Suffolk Superior Court to force a recount. The superior court judge ruled that the recount was warranted.
Monday morning the preparation for the recount began in the city council chambers with 10 clerks dividing the ballots in to groups of 50 to make counting easier on the second day. After five and a half hours the ballots were ready. Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. lawyers for the city and each candidate, along with counters gathered to begin the count in the field house of Revere High School. At one point during the recount there were over 100 people watching.
Attorney Lauren Goldberg of Kopelman & Paige, working the for the Election Commission with the assistance of City Solicitor Paul Capizzi, served as the director of the recount. Each candidate also had his own team of lawyers.
There were 11 tables set up for 22 counters. One counter would read the ballot while the other would record the vote on the tally sheet. The only votes counted were for the mayoral race. At each table an observer from each side was allowed to watch. If there was a question about a ballot the observer would raise his or her hand and one of the lawyers would respond. In cases where a vote was challenged a special runner and a lawyer would bring the ballot in question to the Election Commissioner’s table. At that point the challenge would be explained to the commission. Lawyers from each side would make their case to the commission. The commission would then vote on whether or not the ballot should be considered or not. In total there were nine challenged ballots. One ballot had been an absentee ballot of an elderly person who filled out the ballot with assistance. Two other ballots showed a line going entirely across the marking space and into the candidate’s name. Another had a very long line filled in for mayor but the other votes on the ballot had neat, small lines.
“The challenged ballots were segmented away for any future action,” Goldberg said.
The cost of the recount to taxpayers is yet to be determined, Capizzi said. There is Goldberg’s bill, the cost of six police details, the cost for election workers (some came from other cities and towns, and some of them volunteered). Each candidate also had a minimum of three attorneys and they either volunteered their services or are paid for from campaign coffers. “Clearly I’m disappointed about the results,” Rizzo said. “I worked hard for the past four years to make the city a better place.”
Arrigo said one of his first orders of business is to get a grasp on the snow budget deficit. He also faces working on collective bargaining units with police, fire and other unions. After that he plans on delving into the fiscal year 2017 budget.
As for staffing at City Hall, Arrigo will be meeting with depar
tment heads. “I want to build a good team,” he said.