Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino had the backing of her colleagues on her request to establish residency requirements in Revere for the office of Mayor, City Council and School Committee.
Giannino’s special legislation seemed straightforward as she sought the final approval of the State Legislature for passage. But some dissenting opinions on Giannino’s measure (about the six individual ward seats in Revere being included in the motion) from residents Joe Gravellese and Eric Lampedecchio, who spoke remotely – will now make for an interesting discussion at the Council’s Legislative Affairs Subcommittee who will take up the matter at its Oct. 26 meeting.
Giannino, who is the Democratic nominee for state representative and unopposed in the Nov. 3 election, said candidates for state representative, state senate, and local elected positions “in some of our surrounding towns” require that the candidates live in that particular district, community, ward, or district when they run for office. Giannino wants all Revere candidates to have lived in the city for one year prior to seeking office.
“Basically it protects our community and makes sure that people with a real vested interest in each part of the community are in it for the right reasons,” said Giannino. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary. When I had to run for state rep, I had to live in the district for a year and I think that should be the case for any elected office [in Revere].”
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto said that he was “shocked that it’s not already the law.”
“It’s absurd to think that somebody can come and jump in and say, ‘I’m a candidate’ when they came from California yesterday,” Zambuto added.
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo asked for an opinion from the city solicitor to be given at the Legislative Affairs Subcomittee meeting, inquiring about the potential redistricting of Revere following the final count in the ongoing U.S. Census. “But I support this effort and I will work with you all in committee.”
Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso commended Giannino for her motion. “It’s a great motion, worthy of consideration.”
In comments unrelated to the motion but relevant to the Nov. 3 election, Guinasso criticized a proposal that appeared in a story in Monday’s Boston Globe and interpreted by the long-time councillor and many readers to believe that voters who cast their ballots but pass away before Election Day, will have their votes counted in the final tabulation of results.
“This is the most flagrant usage of fraud in the history of voting,” said Guinasso. “We have a bunch of people that are watering down the system so much, that it’s like, “Why don’t we vote five years ahead of time?’’’
Gravellese, who was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state representative in the Sept. 1 primary, said of Giannino’s motion, “I think this is a solution in search of a problem. I’m not aware of us ever having had an issue in the city as someone misrepresenting their address or their residency or moving and then a month later running for office.
“Does it really make sense if someone is a 40-year resident of Revere and they’ve lived in Ward 3 their whole life and they decide after their kids have moved out, they’re going to downsize to live in a condo in Beachmont – that they don’t have the right to run for ward councillor? That doesn’t make any sense,” said Gravellese. “Setting this requirement on wards makes no sense.”
Lampedecchio, a past candidate for ward councillor, said he likes the intention of the overall motion, “but I also disagree on the ward piece, especially with lines about to be redrawn. I think that would despairingly impact some potential candidates for next year’s election.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers offered his support of the motion. “I think requiring someone to live in a ward for one year [before being able to seek election in that ward] – what’s wrong with that?” asked Powers. “Don’t you want to elect a person that knows the area they’re representing, has a concern for that area?”
Giannino responded to the differing reactions to the one-year residency requirement for candidates for ward seats that is included in her motion.
“I don’t think this was ever meant to be ill-intended in terms of redistricting or anything like that,” said Giannino. “I think there are certainly ways you can put this forward to say, ‘if you were resident of Ward 6 as of that date, there are ways to make sure those type of circumstances are accounted for.’ “But I think there’s a bigger picture here. If you’re invested in the community, you can make an investment to live where you want to represent for a year.”
The Council unanimously approved referring the matter to the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee for further review.