City Councillors unanimously passed two requests from Mayor Dan Rizzo on Monday night to grant non-residency waivers for two of the mayor’s newest hires.
Lynnfield resident John Festa, a Revere native who has worked in the city for decades at Festa Construction, and Boston resident Miles Lang Kennedy, who worked on Rizzo’s mayoral campaign, gained unanimous Council approval Monday and paved the way for the placement of the two key employees in the new administration.
Both needed Council approval due to the fact that Revere’s residency ordinance requires all newly hired City employees to live in the City. The only way to hire a non-resident is to gain Council approval through a waiver.
Festa will now become the City’s Economic Development Director, and Kennedy will serve as Rizzo’s administrative assistant. Kennedy also indicated that he planned to take up residence in Revere within the next few months.
Rizzo explained at the outset that he did not plan to make a habit out of seeking non-resident waivers.
“This is not going to be a common occurrence,” said Rizzo. “I’m not going to go outside the city for positions as a matter of course…You have my word that this is not the norm. There are so many people I have talked with and have had the chance to discuss opportunities in City Hall who live in the city.”
Most City Councillors were extremely excited about the two appointments from Rizzo, though freshman Councillor Jessica Giannino – in her first speech on the board – said she hoped there weren’t more waivers in the works.
“I greatly respect your recommendation, but my concern is wherever I went when I was campaigning in Revere, almost everyone was concerned with employment and jobs,” she said, citing some recent unemployment figures. “I do greatly respect the candidates, but I do also hope we don’t see a lot of these in the future.”
Beyond that qualified approval, everyone else was hunky-dory with the appointments.
“I don’t care if he (Festa) lived on the moon, I’d be supporting him,” said Councillor Tony Zambuto.
“When it comes to people with unique qualifications, we have to be a little more tolerant in that the best people may not live in our city,” said Councillor Stephen Reardon. “We’re doing a disservice when we don’t look at the best person for the job.”
“This is what I was hoping for with the new mayor,” said Councillor Charlie Patch. “He’s bringing in two people I know…They bring the intelligence and energy the City needs. I want to thank the mayor for bringing this to us because it’s a great start.”
Said Councillor Ira Novoselsky, “They are the ultimate people to put in these positions.”
Council President Richard Penta – who helped write the current version of the residency ordinance many years ago – said this was the reason they put a waiver in the process.
“That waiver was put in for reasons just like this,” he said. “Mayor Rizzo’s top priority is economic development and going out and enticing people to come to the City of Revere. I’m glad he’s funded that position and filling it…John Festa is as close to being a Revere resident without being a Revere resident.”
Both men were granted waivers by a vote of 11-0.