Woody Allen once said 90 percent of life is showing up.
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto takes it 10 percent farther. He has
never missed a City Council in 20 years – he’s been perfect, 100 percent. When City Clerk Ashley Melnik has called the roll over the last decade, Zambuto has answered the call.
He has sat in the same seat in the Council Chamber for two decades, He’s
last alphabetically but first in the hearts of so many residents who are energized by his fearless “tell-it-likeit- is” style even when the Tony Z viewpoint is in the minority.
City Council President Patrick Keefe has been impressed with his colleague’s
diligence, vitality, knowledge of the issues – and of course his ironman streak. “He’s the Cal Ripken of the Council,” said Keefe, noting the record of the former Hall of Fame Baltimore shortstop who played in 2,632 consecutive games. Colleagues also sing his praises (see related chart).
Twenty Years of Service
Zambuto lost in a controversial recount in 1997 and was then elected handily to the City Council in 1999, taking office in January,
2000. “And I’ve never looked back,” said Zambuto. For some reason, political observers have considered Zambuto “vulnerable” in his quest for one of the five seats on the Council. But he has consistently proven those experts wrong, finishing a strong third in the last election for example.
He is popular city wide and a highly visible official at the city’s events and
at campaign fundraisers in support of his colleagues on the Council.
“I think that people appreciate what I do and that I tell the truth even when
it’s not popular and people respect that,” said Zambuto
“It’s taken a long time for people to realize exactly what I do. I take stances that people would be afraid to take. There is a lot of 10-1 votes on that Council.”
He proudly wears the label of a “person of principle” “I’ll never lie to my
the people, even when there might be a neighborhood issue where I think a development is good for the neighborhood and the neighbors are against it – I’ll tell them, ‘though I understand you’re against it, it’s best for the city, so I have to support it.’’’
He cited his stance about Wheelabrator as an example of being on the less popular side of an issue. “In the Point of Pines in the last election, I got 200
votes,” he said. “Those are supposed to be the people that are against Wheelabrator. That shows you that people respect what I do, even if they’ll disagree with me on an issue.”
A Close Call on the Streak
Zambuto recalls a Council meeting a few years ago that he would have missed and thus seen his perfect attendance record come to an end.
“The funniest time I would have missed a meeting – I was on my way back
from Pennsylvania for the West Highland Terrier Club National Dog Show and I was going to miss it, and it snowed and they canceled the Council meeting.”
His Signature Accomplishment: Building A New Police Station
Anthony Zambuto said he came to the City Council “with a vision to build a police station.” “In 2000 it was not exactly
a popular thing to build a new police station,” recalled Zambuto. “There was a lot of resistance on the Council because of the money. It was not a high priority. But our police were working out of a building on Pleasant Street that was condemned.”
Zambuto told his colleagues that the city was going to have provide trailers
to house the Police Department. “These trailers were going to cost a few million dollars,” said Zambuto. “So I convinced my colleague that we would be better served to build a new station.” Thanks to Zambuto’s dogged leadership on the issue, Revere now has one of the most state-of-the-art
police stations in Massachusetts.
Another major accomplishment that brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in income to the city: his proposal that a well-known car rental company register all their cars in Revere. “That made up $600,000-
700,000 in income that we were able to use to subsidize the mortgage at the police station.” “I’m always looking out for the taxpayer,” he said.
Working With Different Mayoral Administrations
During his two decades on the Council, Anthony Zambuto has worked with past mayors, Tom Ambrosino and Dan Rizzo, and Mayor Brian Arrigo, who was elected to a second, four-year term last November. He recalled his at-times rocky but respectful relationship with former Mayor George Colella. He also served on the Council with former Mayor Bob Haas.
“When I first came on the Council, one of my best friends saw that I was always arguing with George,” related Zambuto. “If you argued with George Colella, you had to do your homework. George was a very sharp guy who knew government better than most people. So I always had to my homework if I was going to challenge George. But he taught me a lot, and in the end, we became best friends and he was a like a father to me.”