Jeff Turco has announced that he will be a candidate for re-election to the state representative seat in the 19th Suffolk District this fall.
Turco was sworn in by Gov. Charlie Baker on April 7, 2021, after winning a special election. Turco, 50, won a four-way race in the Democratic Primary and defeated two opponents in the final election for the seat that had been held by Robert A. DeLeo, the state’s longest-serving House Speaker who had stepped down to take a teaching position at Northeastern.
Turco’s newly structured district includes approximately 40 percent of Revere (the Beachmont, Revere Beach, Point of Pines, Riverside, Oak Island, and Revere Street) neighborhoods) and all of Winthrop.
“It’s been a little bit over a year that I was elected,” said Turco, a graduate of UMass Amherst and Quinnipiac Law School who has his own law practice in Chelsea. “I really like the job as state representative. Ninety percent of what I do is help people, whether it’s with unemployment and housing issues – things that affect people on a daily basis, and it’s nice to be in a position to help people; even if I can’t get them the answer they want, to be able to direct them so they can get an answer – it really is the privilege of a life to be in that position to be able to do that.”
His Biggest Accomplishment: No Meters on Revere Beach Boulevard
Turco, who stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall, said unquestionably his biggest accomplishment during his year in office was the dismantling of the parking meters that the DCR had installed on Revere Beach Boulevard for a paid parking program.
Following an uprising by Revere residents, including Wayne Rose, Pat Melchionno, Niko Kostopoulos, and Peter Martino, among others, Turco led the passage of legislation that mandated that the parking meters on Revere Beach be taken down. Turco had attended the local protests held on Revere Beach and with the assistance of Rep. Jessica Giannino, they helped prevent parking meters from ever reaching the fully operational stage on America’s first public beach. Both Turco and Giannino received much gratitude from residents for their swift and effective action on the controversial issue.
“DCR frankly just announced that they were going to put in these parking stations and there was practically no consultation with the community,” recalled Turco. “They just did it, and I think they were taking advantage of the fact that Speaker DeLeo had stepped down and the area was going to have new representation. I think DCR thought they could just get away with it. They picked Revere to start the parking meter program, and I began to get phone calls from my constituents in Revere and Winthrop. In Winthrop, they were saying, ‘We know we’re next, and we don’t want to see this this, and we want you take the lead on this.’”
Turco also worked hard to push legislation for the rebuilding of the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes and providing additional housing for veterans in central Massachusetts.
“When we honor our veterans and our soldiers by providing the services they need, they won’t have to be so far away from their families,” said Turco. “It sends a message that if there’s a group of people in our society that we owe a debt to, it’s soldiers and veterans that put their lives on the line and served our country. The Commonwealth going on record and saying that this is a top priority, I think is a great accomplishment.”
Turco said he was also pleased to receive a letter from the MassDEP commissioner that confirmed MassDEP’s position that there will be no further expansion of the landfill site in Saugus that environmentally affects his district.
A Collaboration With Local Officials
Turco feels he has built strong working relationships with several officials, notably Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna, Mayor Brian Arrigo, and House colleague Jessica Giannino.
“Nothing gets done in politics without working together,” said Turco. “Joanne McKenna represents a big part of my district in Revere, and I probably get more phone calls from Councillor McKenna about issues relating to the district and how to improve the quality of life than I do from anyone. She’s just non-stop, and it ranges from small things like graffiti on a Mass. highway to how do we fix something on a roadway that could be a life-or-death issue for members of the public. She’s constantly expressing concern about the noise and pollution problems associated with Logan Airport. She’s just a tremendous asset and ally, more importantly.”
Turco said Mayor Arrigo is an outstanding leader who has been bold and transformative in his vision for the entire city.
“Mayor Arrigo has been a great team player working with Revere’s state delegation, Rep. Giannino, Sen. Lydia Edwards, and myself, and focusing on how we can make things better for Revere and increase opportunity for people in the city,” said Turco. “He deserves a lot of credit for the transformation of Revere Beach. I still smile that there’s a Starbucks on Revere Beach now. He has had a bold and consistent vision of what Revere should look like. The architecture, the design – it’s added a beauty to the beach.”
Jessica Giannino, who took office in January, 2021, and is also a candidate for re-election, drew praise from Turco.
“Representative Giannino is a tireless worker for the people of Revere,” lauded Turco. “We converse usually a couple times a day to talk about different issues in her district. She understands that you need to get people to support your efforts to get things done. She’s been a great friend and I’m inspired by her leadership.”
Interestingly, one of Turco’s new constituents is Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who now lives in Revere.
“We’re obviously very fortunate to have the Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives living in our district – it’s pretty amazing,” said Turco. “It highlights the advances the City of Revere has made in terms of becoming a place where people want to move.”
Talking About Winthrop
Turning his attention to Winthrop, Turco (who grew up in Revere) credited Terence Delehanty for his superb leadership as interim town manager. New Town Manager Anthony Marino takes office on May 23.
“He [Delehanty] did a great job as town manager and he does a great job as chief of police,” said Turco. “I think the town owes him a debt of gratitude. This is his second stint now as interim town manager. Every department head advocated for him, saying that there was nobody else that could step up and do the job, and I think that’s a credit to him as a lawyer, a lifelong Winthrop resident, and his work in the Police Department. I can’t say enough about Terry’s excellent service in the town.”
Turco added that Town Council President James Letterie is deserving of commendation for the search process for the new town manager.
“I’ve gotten calls from colleagues in the Legislature about how wonderful he [Marino] is to work with, that he’s a hard worker and the town cannot go wrong with a guy like Tony Marino. I think Jim Letterie has acquitted himself tremendously well with the search process that was put in in place, and with his choice of Tony Martino as town manager.”
Turco said Marino could become “the most consequential town manager” in the history of Winthrop.
“The reason for that is he’s going to be able to pick his own team – the new CFO, the new treasurer, and the new assessor,” related Turco. “He’s going to be able to pick certain key people that can help him get the job done and move the town forward.”
Turco’s legislative aide is Winthrop resident Jake Letterie, who was brought on board in May, 2021, before his father, James Letterie, was elected council president. Jake has been highly visible in Winthrop and Revere, most recently at the forum on Win Waste held at the Point of Pines Yacht Club and the $18 million federal grant ceremony for the Casassa Overpass in Revere. Jake’s sister, Jenna, just led Middlebury College to an undefeated national ice hockey championship, so it’s been quite a year for the Letterie family.
His Term as Town Council President in Winthrop
Jeff Turco served as president of the Winthrop Town Council in 2010 and 2011.
“We got a lot done as council president,” said Turco. “I think my proudest accomplishment was making full-day kindergarten free in Winthrop.”
Turco was somewhat of a visionary when during his term as council president, he proposed that the meetings of all town boards be televised live. Today cable TV stations in many cities and towns televise multiple subcommittee and board meetings, a practice that increased exponentially on Zoom during the pandemic.
“In 2010, I looked up a company from California that was called Granicus and I wanted them to livestream online every Winthrop board, commission, and committee meeting so the public could participate in and view the meetings,” related Turco. “Fast forward all these years later, and here we are with all these meetings being put on online so the public can see them, and there is transparency and openness. I think it’s great.”
Turco said he moved to Winthrop 18 years ago.
“It’s an incredible place to raise a family,” said Turco, who with his wife, Melissa, has six children ages 6 to 16, who attend Malden Catholic and Immaculate Conception in Revere. “Winthrop is what I grew up in Revere in terms of a good family community to raise a child.”
A Tribute to the Speaker
Reflecting on the decades of public service by his legendary predecessor, Robert A. DeLeo, Turco said, “Speaker DeLeo has been a tremendous mentor. He’s giving me advice and counsel. He’s made my transition into the job a lot easier because it’s nice to have someone who was on Beacon Hill for a long time and is highly respected across the Commonwealth to give you ideas on how to approach tough issues and how to work within the system. When you look at Speaker DeLeo’s legacy for Winthrop and Revere, people will be talking about it for decades. He has a pretty tremendous record.”
Turco hopes to continue to build on DeLeo’s “legacy of excellence” as he seeks re-election to the state representative seat for Revere and Winthrop.