Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo held what was described as “a first-ever virtual Town Hall” last Tuesday night as he continues his campaign for election as mayor of Revere.
Niko Kostopoulos moderated the live broadcast during which Rizzo answered a number of questions that had been submitted by residents.
The event did showcase Rizzo’s many years of experience in city government, his term as mayor of the city (from 2012-2016), and his extensive knowledge of the issues.
Rizzo did not have any notes on the table in front of him but he smoothly and directly answered a wide spectrum of questions. One questioner described himself as “a conservative voter” and Rizzo politely and unhesitatingly responded – though Revere elections are non-partisan, meaning that Democrats, Republicans, and unenrolled voters all vote in one primary.
Kostopoulos said the questions were compiled by Facebook comments and messages and from topics brought up by voters on the campaign trail.
A female resident asked Rizzo about better providing services in youth-focused programming, claiming, “youths have nothing in the city anymore.”
“Youth-focused programming has always been high on my list of priorities,” responded Rizzo. “While I was mayor, I believe we did a lot of good things as an administration for the youth of our city.
“We refurbished four playgrounds, provided funding for two additional playgrounds that came on line, built a brand-new stadium (Della Russo) that included two new basketball courts, two new tennis courts, and Revere’s first-ever regulation track.
“We built three beautiful new Little League fields behind St. Mary’s Church and as far as outside the classroom, within Revere High School, we created the JROTC that now has over 300 kids,” said Rizzo.
The councillor said he was disheartened to see that “the 14-year-olds were eliminated from the summer jobs program.”
Rizzo said he would like to create student internships and training through private employers in the city.
Rizzo took on a question from a resident about the “worsening traffic and overcrowding, and a city hall without enough resources to support waves of new residents.”
“If we know all these new apartments are hurting us, why do we continue to allow it to happen?” Kostopoulos asked Rizzo. “If elected, what would you do to control this?”
Rizzo responded, “I had asked for a two-year moratorium (a stop to all building in the community) so we could study and amend our antiquated zoning that may have prevented a lot of this development you see today and a lot of the proposed development.”
“Basically, we now have uncontrolled, rampant apartment development that’s impacting our city in many negative ways,” said Rizzo. “Our schools are overcrowded. We spent tens of millions of dollars on new schools and these schools are already out of date because of the number of kids that we have in them. The traffic – we do get regional traffic, but we are absolutely not helping, we’re pouring gasoline on the fire by continuing down this path of building more apartments.”
Rizzo highlighted his mayoral administration’s efforts in revitalizing Northgate “by bringing in Market Basket.”
“It created 500 jobs,” said Rizzo. “Not to mention the other jobs that were created as a result of the businesses growing in the Northgate area. And through $9 million in state grant money, we revitalized our central business district (the entire stretch of Broadway).”
“Broadway has never looked better,” added Kostopoulos.
Rizzo said the schools were recognized nationally for their excellence during his years as mayor in collaboration with the leaders of the school district.
“We built a new Hill School,” said Rizzo. “We took the kids out of a dilapidated McKinley and we opened up and cut the ribbon on that new Hill School proudly in 2016.
“We know that we’ve needed a new high school for a long, long time, but according to the administration, according to the mayor, he says, ‘maybe in six to seven years, we’ll have one.’
“I think that’s unacceptable,” said Rizzo. “Right now, we have a situation at Revere High School, we’re borderline – because of science labs and other things – of losing accreditation. I believe we’re in crisis mode and I am not an alarmist. If I’m elected mayor, we’re going to have to adopt an aggressive plan [for a new high school].”
For more than one hour, Kostopoulos asked questions about life in Revere today and in the future, and Rizzo responded with extensive explanations.
From a visibility standpoint, Rizzo’s Town Hall event generated an overwhelming response. According to the candidate, there have been close to 5,000 views with more than 500 comments and 45 separate questions from residents.
“We look forward to a spirited debate on the issues that impact our city, our neighborhoods, and our residents,” said Rizzo. Our plan is to compare and contrast our record and vision for our city. We also plan on taking our positive message about our future to every neighborhood throughout the city.”