By Melissa Moore-Randall
Revere’s Director of Veterans Services and Purple Heart recipient Marc Silvestri is hoping to continue his service to others as he seeks to be elected to the 19th Suffolk House of Representative seat vacated by longtime Speaker DeLeo. Silvestri said, “I have thrived from the privilege of serving others and changing people’s lives. And serving as our next State Representative affords me the opportunity to serve a wider range of people and have an even greater impact on our community. When Speaker DeLeo announced that he may be stepping down, I had some honest conversations with my family and friends and was met, time and again, with votes of confidence. Many people remarked that it was a natural progression on the service I have already done.”
Silvestri grew up in Revere as part of a blue-collar family. He was one of four sons of parents who instilled a strong work ethic in their sons. A 1997 graduate of Revere High School, Marc resides in Revere with his wife Nicole, his 17 year old daughter Sienna, a Dental Technician student at Northeast Regional Vocational High School, and Saige, a Fifth grader at the Whelan School.
Currently, Marc has served as the Director of the Veterans Service Office for the City of Revere since 2017. Marc’s personal experience as a decorated veteran with the United States Army, including an overseas tour in Afghanistan where he earned the Bronze Star of Value and the Purple Heart, led him to his present position with the City of Revere.
“Fighting for our country in Afghanistan is certainly one of the greatest honors of my life. In 2006, I enlisted in the United States Army as a proud member of the Big Red 1. My time with Apache Troop First Platoon shaped me into a strong leader who will never compromise my integrity. I have lived through the terror and pain of warfare and its aftermath. I was stationed in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan at Combat Outpost Lowell, which was known to locals as “Camp Hell”. During a patrol to disrupt the flow of Taliban movement, we walked into a complex attack on the Outpost and its observation posts, from a location to maintain watch from above. As things unfolded I remembered before we stepped off I was pulled out of line as the Squad SAW Gunner. If things went bad I was going to have to step up. When air support was called to another location, it was clear it was up to us, and that taking it to the enemy was how I was getting home to my daughter. For my actions on that day, I was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. A month later, I was awarded the Purple Heart when a rocket propelled grenade struck my fighting position. By the time we left Afghanistan in June 2009, our unit had been in over 400 TIC’s (Troops In Contact ), and it is still the most attacked base in both Iraq and Afghanistan to this day.”
Silvestri’s service to the country did not come without sacrifice. “Due to the visible and invisible wounds of war, I was over-prescribed, under-treated, and struggled with substance misuse in the years following my retirement from the military. I learned that lives can be changed even in the darkest and most difficult times. The struggles I experienced and overcame remind me daily that faith, teamwork, and courage are the most crucial elements of any successful endeavor. With perseverance and determination & a strong support network, lives can be changed and improved. My experience re-ignited in me a passion for service. I resumed my education and earned my college degree in American Studies from Salem State University in 2018.”
As the Director of the Veterans’ Service Office (VSO), Silvestri has worked tirelessly with local, state and federal officials to ensure Revere veterans were never overlooked or shortchanged. “During my five years as Director of the VSO, I am proud to report that we have established more programs and opportunities for our veterans than at any time in Revere’s history. I worked with Councilor at Large Steve Morabito to implement a Veterans’ Work-Off Program that helps veterans save on their tax or water bills, with Mayor Brian Arrigo to establish August 7th as “Purple Heart Day” in Revere, and with Ward Six Councilor Rick Serino to create an option for Revere taxpayers to easily donate to the Revere Veterans’ Fund, and the money raised will help pay for additional services for the most vulnerable veterans in our community. I also partnered with Congresswoman Katherine Clark to facilitate the VA Home Loan application process for veterans working in the marijuana industry. Thanks to the effort that began in the Revere Veterans’ Service Office, Congresswoman Clark and other federal lawmakers are demanding that the Veterans’ Administration reform its current policies that impede the loan opportunities for these hardworking, entrepreneurial veterans. I worked to create reserved parking spaces at Revere City Hall for veterans and Purple Heart recipients. When the pandemic began, my dedication to the community was once again called upon when I was appointed to the Mayor’s Emergency Covid-19 Response Team. I created and implemented a pilot program to provide basic needs and shelter to our homeless population. Our homeless population can often be overlooked, but it was rewarding to serve some of our most vulnerable in an effort to help them and also further prevent the spread of the virus.”
Silvestri noted the many accomplishments of Speaker DeLeo which he said includes a legacy marked by his work on gun control, domestic violence, child welfare, wage parity, transportation, education, criminal justice and police reform. “Speaker DeLeo was always a champion for veterans in our district, and across the state. The sheer length of his accomplishments in and of itself is impressive and I can only hope to make a fraction of the impact that the Speaker has made during his career.”
As he seeks to succeed DeLeo, Silvestri sees the Covid 19 pandemic as one of the most important issues that need to be worked on if elected. “At the forefront of everybody’s mind is certainly the Covid-19 pandemic, so it would be foolhardy to start anywhere else. The pandemic has had a direct impact on every single person, has halted life as we know it and caused us to rethink how we conduct our everyday lives. The pandemic has both brought to light and exacerbated many of the challenges that our community already faces, such as housing and food insecurities, increased substance misuse and mental health stressors, and the challenges of being a small business owner. We need to ensure that we have grants in place to keep the doors open of our small businesses and nonprofits. These are the backbone of our neighborhoods, upon which we have relied for years. We cannot turn our backs on them now. We must also ensure that those who lost employment during the pandemic are able to get back on their feet and live independently. As a person who knows how hard it is to overcome hardship, this is not the time to create further obstacles; rather we need to ensure that we all get through this to see the other side. Lastly and certainly not of least importance is the care that may be necessary due to any long-term effects of the virus on our health. This will take cooperation and coordination with our medical community and healthcare providers to ensure that we are informed and protected. Needless to say, there will be much work to do given how drastically our lives have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, both in the short and long term, and I am up to the task.”
Silvestri hopes to continue to lobby for legislation DeLeo enacted particularly related to climate change. “Our coastline is one of the most unique characteristics about our District. It requires special attention and advocacy given the effects that climate change has had and will have on our communities. Winthrop has seven miles of coastline and Revere has three miles of coastline. Both cities have engaged in land use tools and policies to shift new development out of harm’s way, but there will be a continued need to secure funding and find ways to protect the already built structures. Speaker DeLeo worked hard on the House’s GreenWorks legislation – a 10-year, $1 billion climate and clean energy initiative – which will give communities access to additional grants aimed at addressing the effects of climate change – but it won’t end there. In the years to come, there will be a continued need to make sure our communities have the funds to maintain the protections we have put in place and plan for the future. Some areas for improvement include: enabling and encouraging the use of green infrastructure to address climate impacts & to require and incentivize resilient building and design practices. This requires some education and commitment to changing our practices”.
Silvestri also looks to make some changes to current legislation. “There are a few areas where I would like to see greater protections afforded, including supporting our veterans with more consistent and accessible services; a recovery-oriented system of care for substance misuse and mental health & equal access to healthcare for all; and the proper coverage necessary for our first responders who contract an infectious disease while on the job — all of which will benefit all Massachusetts residents. However, when it comes to our District specifically, I would like to hold MassPort accountable to the health and well-being of our communities. For far too long, we have been met with the mere minimum when it comes to what we deserve. It is more than just quality of life concerns such as noise abatement and soundproofing; there are real health concerns. Research has found that communities surrounding Logan Airport are exposed to harmful air pollution. I have seen the frustration of our District’s residents when trying to get answers from MassPort and I will ensure we are getting accurate data based on science. I will also fight for stronger policy for our residents when it comes to policing aviation-related air pollution. This is an issue that is long overdue, and the health of our residents should always remain a top priority.”
When asked why he considers himself the best successor for DeLeo’s seat, Silvestri noted, “I consider political service to require the same values that were instilled in me in the military: the virtues of honor, dignity, courage, and selfless service. I bring these values to Revere through my duties as the Director of the Veterans Service Office and the Emergency Covid-19 Response Team. I will likewise bring them to the 19th Suffolk as a champion for all in our district on the issues that we are facing while keeping forward-thinking strategy and perspectives in mind. There is no doubt we face a tough road ahead to recover from Covid-19, and we need a leader who is committed to getting in the trenches and tirelessly fighting for all of us. I am that person. Bob DeLeo set the highest example of service, and I believe I am the individual who can best attempt to fill Speaker DeLeo’s shoes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Speaker DeLeo for his thirty years of dedicated service to the 19th Suffolk and hope to make him proud with my dedication to our District. I am prepared to lead the 19th Suffolk District. My life experiences coupled with my strong work ethic set me apart from the other candidates. I know how to overcome hardship, and know what it takes to help others do the same. I will be a fierce advocate for all people who live and work in our District, and promise to listen carefully to help foster equality throughout the 19th Suffolk. As others in the race are getting ready to roll up their sleeves, mine have been rolled up, fighting on the frontlines in a foreign land and here at home during Covid-19.”
The primary for DeLeo’s seat is slated for March 2 with a special election set for March 30. For more information about Silvestri’s campaign you may visit his website vote4marc.com