By Cary Shuman
Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe stood in Luberto’s Bakery recently and spoke about a wide variety of issues such as public safety, the use of Harry Della Russo Stadium and the effect it has on neighbors, and the cleanliness of the ward. He also answered questions directly from the constituents in attendance.
The event was a coffee hour in the midst of Keefe’s campaign for re-election to a second two-year term. The sizable crowd that turned out in the middle of a holiday weekend said something about his rising popularity and ability to connect directly with his constituency.
The 38-year-old Keefe is part of a new generation of leaders in Revere that are bringing new energy and ideas to City Hall, city government, and youth sports programs.
What inspired Patrick Keefe to run for a seat on the Revere City Council?
“Growing up as a kid, I was definitely interested in political figures,” said Keefe. “I was a huge [President] John F. Kennedy fan when I was younger. I read as many books as I could get about JFK. I was always intrigued by his story of being from Massachusetts and being elected President. I definitely enjoyed learning a lot about him and his family’s history in Boston. As I started my family in Revere, I realized there was a serious need for solid leadership in the city.”
Keefe was elected to the Ward 4 councillor’s seat in 2015, defeating three-term incumbent Steve Reardon. The City Council showed their admiration and respect for Keefe’s abilities by electing him vice-president in his second year in office.
“It was very humbling for me to be elected unanimously to the vice president’s position,” said Keefe. “I felt that it showed that the council appreciated my leadership traits.”
Keefe is now the acting president of the Council following the passing of legendary Revere public official, Robert Haas. Keefe said he was honored to serve with Mr. Haas on the Council.
“Sitting next to Bob Haas for the first year is something I miss so much – he was so comforting and put me at such ease in teaching me the rules of order and how to present myself properly at City Council meetings.”
He considers his top accomplishment on the Council his accessibility to his constituents.
“I’m very out front and I meet with residents of my ward often,” he said. “I receive several calls and emails each week and I respond to all of them. I’m not afraid to give a resident an honest answer that sometimes they’re going to appreciate it – sometimes, they’re not going to be happy with it.”
He is working hard on developing a new parking plan for the city. Keefe said that Revere is a thickly settled city and many houses have only one or two off-street parking spaces and most need three or four spaces.
“I’m happy to say that I was one of the first councillors to promote the citywide parking program. I hope to see the parking program fully implemented by the first quarter of 2018.”
Keefe has taken the less popular side on some issues, notably when he stood his ground and voiced his opposition to not holding a preliminary city election.
Only two candidates would have been eliminated in the councillor-at-large preliminary election and the Council voted not to hold one, citing a savings of $65,000 in Election Day expenses.
“I totally agree where I would want to save the city $60,000 to $70,000, but it was a little late in the game and I didn’t think it was fair to change the rules at that point,” said Keefe.
He has enjoyed working with Mayor Brian Arrigo, who is in his second year of a four-year term.
“The mayor and I have a good working relationship,” said Keefe. “One of my abilities is to have a balance where I’ll support him on policies that I feel that are right for the city and when they’re not, I have to be able to stand confident and tell him that we respectfully disagree.”
As chair of the Council’s economic development committee, he has consulted often with the city’s economic development director, Robert O’Brien, and they’ve held discussions with many large commercial firms about developing properties in the city.
A culinary operations director at the well-known Legal Sea Foods restaurant group, Keefe said he uses his business knowledge to aid him in discussions with businesses seeking to relocate to Revere.
“I’m trying to show these businesses what the city can offer and make sure that we’re attracting the best companies,” said Keefe. “At the NECCO and Suffolk Downs sites, I don’t want them just coming in and putting a second-tier project in. Amazon is looking for another headquarters, approximately 100 acres, and there are not many 100-acre sites near Boston. There’s only one that I can think of and it’s Suffolk Downs. Wouldn’t that be incredible if Amazon were to build their headquarters here employing 50,000 people?”
Keefe prides himself on “participatory leadership,” which he defines as “being a leader in the city that is involved in citywide programs whether it’s assisting the seniors or getting involved in neighborhood crime watch organizations, youth sports programs, or different benefits throughout the city.
“That, to me, is as important as being a person who goes to a Council meeting every other Monday night at 6 o’clock,” said Keefe.
Keefe and his wife, Jen, have two children, Adriana, 14, and Patrick III, 11. He recently became president of the Revere Junior Patriots Pop Warner youth football and cheerleading organization. Adriana is an ‘A’ team cheerleader and Patrick III plays football for the ‘C’ team.
“We had a terrific board for many years and with some children graduating and moving on to high school and their parents also moving on from the program, there were openings on the board and I was chosen by my peers to be president. This year we’re off to a great start. The numbers are at an all-time high. We have more than 200 athletes in the program. I’m really pleased to be able to continue the great tradition of Revere Pop Warner and to keep carrying that torch.”
From Pop Warner president to acting president of the Council, Keefe has emerged as a trusted leader for residents of all ages. The people of this city have confidence in him just as America had confidence in JFK when he was elected President in 1960.
Though Keefe is frequently mentioned as a candidate for higher office in the city and the legislative district, he said his sole focus is representing the residents of Ward 4 to the best of his ability.
“My biggest focus is being responsible and a leader for the Ward 4 constituents first and Revere as a whole.”