Arrigo Delivers Final State of City Address

By Adam Swift

The day after announcing he would not seek reelection this year, Mayor Brian Arrigo delivered his eighth and final State of the City address last Thursday at the Susan B. Anthony auditorium.

It was a night for giving thanks to family and supporters, while also looking ahead to Revere’s future when he is no longer in office. During the speech, Arrigo did not hesitate to contrast the state of the city when he was first elected in 2015. In that race, Arrigo defeated incumbent mayor and current City Councillor Dan Rizzo by a little over 100 votes.

Mayor Brian Arrigo with his wife Daveen and sons Joseph and Jack.

Arrigo kicked off the evening with something a little different, noting that it was his mother’s birthday, and leading those in attendance in singing Happy Birthday.

“I know it’s a little bit different, but I know I have nothing to lose at this point,” Arrigo joked.

Once the birthday festivities were out of the way, Arrigo thanked his wife Daveen, and his two sons, Joseph and Jack, for their love and support during his time in office. He also thanked his friends, family, and colleagues for their love and support during his tenure.

“Your trust and confidence in me has been a constant source of inspiration, and I am grateful for the many opportunities I have had to work alongside all of you to achieve our shared goals,” Arrigo said.

In an address that was shorter than his past several States of the City, Arrigo looked back on the accomplishments of the past eight years, and also addressed the recent City Council vote against moving forward with plans for a new high school at Wonderland.

“We have always been focused on moving forward,” the mayor said. “We have always leaned in to change and harnessed it for the good of our residents. Year after year, we’ve kept pushing to be better. 

“Together, we transformed and modernized city services to improve the lives of all of our residents.”

Among the successes Arrigo touted the development of the Next Stop Revere Master Plan, and public and private investment in the community to revive Revere Beach, Shirley Avenue, and Suffolk Downs.

“Together, we overcame the challenges of a pandemic – expanding our health and human services division to meet the needs of all of our residents – especially our most vulnerable,” he said. “And together, we will see a new Department of Public Works facility, a new Point of Pines Fire Station and the new Robert J. Haas Health and Wellness Center.”

Although the city has had a good number of successes, Arrigo said there have been failures, chief among them, the inability to move a new Revere High School forward.

“While the wounds are still relatively fresh, I am sad that many high school parents and grandparents – including some in leadership positions in our city – will continue to choose to send their children and grandchildren out of district because our high school doesn’t meet their standards,” said Arrigo. “Yet when it comes to doing the work to make a new high school a reality for future generations – they are too timid and distracted by hypothetical uncertainties and political implications. I am sad that we failed the 7,168 children under the age of ten currently living in our city who do not have a voice and will not have the opportunity to grow up looking forward to attending a new state of the art high school.”

The six City Councilors who voted against moving forward with submitting the schematic plans to the Massachusetts School Building Authority released a statement on their vote and Arrigo’s criticism last week. (See statement on p.1)

Arrigo said the recent council vote on the high school project reminded him of the politics of the past.

“As I reflect on our last eight years, I can’t help but think about my first few days in the Mayor’s Office,” he said. “In 2016, we inherited a city that was depleting its Rainy Day Fund while having millions of dollars sitting around that nobody knew existed. Since then, we have consistently improved our financial policies and procedures. As a result, in 2018 our bond rating was upgraded and today our Rainy Day Fund is the largest in our city’s history, setting us up for financial success for decades to come.”

Arrigo went on to state that in 2016, his administration inherited a city without a Human Resources Department.

“Employee morale was at an all time low and the culture of City Hall was centered around intimidation and bully tactics,” he said. “Employees were judged by the political sticker on their car, not the level of their performance. Since then, we have invested in our people at City Hall, providing training and professional development opportunities to our employees and regularly celebrating our talented and diverse workforce.”

The mayor further stated that his administration inherited two empty racetracks, nine vacant parcels along Revere Beach and no master plan to guide us into the future.

“Since then, we have proven ourselves as trustworthy partners – attracting a record amount of public and private investment to update our infrastructure and create great places to live, eat and work,” Arrigo said. “Miles of new streets with updated water and sewer pipes, thousands of new places for people to live and 15 new restaurants in our city.”

He said his administration has also overseen major upgrades for the public works department, with a new facility that will be ready to open by the fall.

“Because of all of the work that we have done together – all of the trust we have built in each other – all of confidence we have about our shared future – and because we truly believe that we – as a community – deserve the best, I can proudly stand here tonight and say the State of Our City will remain strong – long after I leave office,” Arrigo said. “We have built the momentum. We will hand off a city that, across every measure, is in better shape than when my Administration took office. 

“It was my dad’s voice as my North Star in the earliest days: ‘This is the opportunity of a lifetime, kid. Don’t mess this up – and if nothing else, you have to hand it off better than you got it,’” Arrigo continued.

As the residents of Revere look to the future, Arrigo said the community needs to put its faith and trust in those who will continue to build up from the foundation and steer clear of those who would want to tear it down.

“As we prepare for the next chapter in our city’s history, I stand here confident that Revere will continue to thrive and grow under the leadership of my successor,” Arrigo said. “You should all be so proud of what we have accomplished together, and I know that this community has the resilience, determination, and vision to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

“Serving as your mayor has been the greatest honor of my life, and I will always cherish the memories I have made here in Revere with all of you,” the mayor continued. “I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference in the lives of our residents, and I am confident that this community will continue to grow and flourish for many years to come.”

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