All eight candidates for Councillor-at-large participated in a question and answer forum last Thursday evening at the Rumney Marsh Academy, and virtually every candidate used the platform to his or her advantage.
The forum was a joint effort of the Revere Journal and RevereTV, with a big assist from the Revere Public Schools. There were about 50 people in the audience and the forum was broadcast on live TV.
It was one of the more successful forums in recent years because each of the candidates was very well prepared to answer the questions and no one made any major slip-ups to ruin a candidacy.
The rules were simple.
The candidates were given a list of 16 questions prior to the forum. They were tasked with answering two of the questions – which were written by staffers at the Journal and RevereTV – but none knew which of the questions they would answer until a few minutes before the forum.
Moderators for the forum were Ed Deveau (RevereTV) and Seth Daniel (Revere Journal). The timekeeper was Journal staffer Cary Shuman. Several RMA Civics students also assisted in the effort.
Councillor John Correggio said he was pleased with the plans for the casino at Suffolk Downs.
“There will be additional hotels on the areas nearby,” he said. “We already have plans for one at the Wonderland Train Station. The mayor has worked very hard for this…I’m pretty satisfied.”
Councillor Brian Arrigo said he has serious concerns about the City’s Host Community Agreement with Suffolk Downs.
“I am one of those people who had a lot of questions and a little bit of concern about the package,” he said. “When people talk about tax relief or water and sewer relief, a lot of that money coming in to the City has already been spent by us using the Rainy Day Fund and by us losing the Rental Car Surcharge and by raises that will be coming up in the police and fire departments…We have to have a plan to spend this money.”
Candidate Walter Kovil III said he believes that City should work to integrate its newer residents, but it has to be a two-way street.
“It is a two-way street,” he said. “Our job is to provide the resources and programs necessary to those from a different country so they can assimilate. However, that person also has to want to participate in our society and make an effort to do so.”
Candidate Steven Morabito said he is happy with the progress of the Waterfront Square development on the Beach.
“That program is heading in the right direction,” he said. “My only concern is keeping this project going.”
Councillor Bob Haas said the City is ready for a citywide parking plan.
“I think we are there at the present time,” he said. “I think if you look at Revere and the numbers of cars, it has exploded…We have to mandate change for cabs and other vehicles that transport people in other cities and park in Revere…We need a revamping of the system.”
Candidate George Rotondo said he felt that the City should look towards other ways of financing new schools to accommodate increasing enrollments.
“We do need new schools and we have to find a new way to fund them besides relying on our seniors and I think the answer is the casino,” he said.
Councillor Tony Zambuto was asked about Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) agreements, or tax breaks for businesses, and if the City should use more of them.
“I have tried to make a difference on the City Council and one way is I had to fight to bring Necco to Revere with a TIF,” he said. “There was some controversy over that, but that property paid $40,000 in taxes when they came. It’s paying $1.5 million in taxes right now. That’s what TIFs do.”
Councillor Jessica Giannino said she tends to side with the neighbors when their will is in conflict with that of the City.
“This came up in one of the first issues I had to deal with after getting elected,” she said. “It was the helicopter tours. Bottom line, the neighbors didn’t want it and if you drive by there it isn’t there…It’s my responsibility to make a decision, but when I go home, I am also a neighbor.”
Pictured just prior to the Revere Journal/RevereTV question and answer forum were (left to right) Councillor John Correggio, Councillor Brian Arrigo, Candidate Walter Kovil III, Candidate Steven Morabito, Councillor Bob Haas, Councillor Tony Zambuto, Candidate George Rotondo and Councillor Jessica Giannino.