He has won two close, hard-fought elections in exciting campaigns. He has helped steer the town through some difficult times to the point where the town is in solid financial shape.
He has joined with town officials in promoting and then advancing the development of long dormant properties, launched an amazing committee that took beautification and restoration to a new level at Pico Park, and has strongly supported the town public safety departments, most recently acting upon the recommendations of the police chief and town manager to return a resource officer to the schools.
He has conducted the business of the nine-member Town council with professionalism and decorum, allowing all points of view to be heard respectfully and without interruption.
And in the biggest story of the year – the November 5 vote by residents to build a new state-of-the-art $79 million middle/high school – he understood that a vote for the schools was a vote for an investment in the town’s future.
For all those reasons and more, Winthrop Town Council President Peter Gill is the Sun Transcript’s 2013 Man of the Year.
Town Manager James McKenna, an architect in the town’s turnaround and continuing ascension, congratulated Gill on the award.
“It’s a well deserved honor,” said McKenna. “Peter brings a level of reasonableness and steady hand in everything that we do. There’s no denying his love and commitment for his community. Peter and his family have lived through many generations of Winthrop history and know this community very well. It’s great to have someone of his tenure and his awareness at the helm because it gives all of us who run the day-to-day operations a certain level of confidence in how we move the community forward.”
McKenna said Gill works hard at his position and puts in many hours each week on town business.
“Peter puts in the time and effort, which is incredible,” said McKenna. “People don’t realize the kind of time and commitment that it takes to be council president and he gives it every day.”
Gill accepted the award humbly, saying it’s a team effort that has moved Winthrop forward in all aspects of town life.
“I credit what’s happened in Winthrop to our employees, our staff, our committees, the Council all working together,” said Gill. “It was a cooperative effort between the committees, the Council, the town manager, the department heads, and the individual workers.”
Gill said McKenna’s leadership was instrumental in what was a very successful year for the town.
“The town manager was empowered to do what he does best and he did it well,” said Gill. “He gives people credit for what they do and he makes people feel good about what they do and he respects their decisions and their accomplishment. I enjoy working with Jim McKenna. He’s very good at what he does and he’s knowledgeable.”
In the much-anticipated Election Day rematch for the position of Town Council President, Gill ran on his two-year record in office.
“During the campaign people told me that Winthrop was a better place that it was two years ago and a better place to live,” said Gill. “The people said they attributed that to the accomplishments that had taken place over the last two years which were significant. The quality of life was better than previous to my administration.”
Gill said his decision to support a “Yes” vote on the construction of a new middle/high school on the site of Winthrop High School was one from the heart and not a political one.
“I did it because I believe in public education,” said Gill, a former schoolteacher. “My brothers, all of our kids, my wife Maureen and I attended Winthrop public schools. I believe that the new schools are not a cost to the community. I believe the new schools are an investment in the community.”
Gill praised the diligent efforts of the Winthrop School Building Assistance Committee (SBAC), who came up with the best option for the future of the school system and the community.
“The committee consists of people of all ages, from young parents to seniors. They put together plan after plan after plan and they came up with the highest percentage of reimbursable expenses that is allowed which is 59.97 percent. The MSBA determined that our project was tremendous. The SBAC invited public input and they did a tremendous job.”
He also cited the work of the Winthrop Is Worth It Committee and its success in helping the new schools referendum pass by a large margin.
Gill is quite proud of the cleanliness and the aesthetic appearance of the town.
“When you drive into town, you look at the new Belle Isle Bridge and the dramatic transformation of the entrance to Winthrop,” said Gill. “The Department of Transportation decided that Winthrop needed a new bridge and they did a commendable job. When we couple that with the DPW, the Tree Committee, and the Beautification Committee working together, Michael Carney’s redevelopment of his property, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo getting the amount of roadwork done between the bridge and Pleasant Street, the City of Boston and Mr. McKenna working together – we have a dramatic new look.”
Gill also lauds Speaker DeLeo and Sen. Anthony Petruccelli for their outstanding effort in the Winthrop Beach Renourishment and Restoration Project.
Gill points to the beginning of construction at the old Winthrop Hospital site, the Dalrymple School, and Temple Tifereth Israel as significant accomplishments.
As McKenna noted, Gill’s love and commitment to the town where he grew up and attended school is noteworthy. On the night of his inauguration Thursday (Jan. 2), Gill will take the oath of office in the presence of his family. His wife, Maureen, will be one of those proud family members at the ceremony.
“A special thanks to my wife Maureen,” said Gill. “Without her daily support, patience, patience and encouragement during both campaigns and throughout my service as council president, I would not have been able to do this job.”
His daughter, Lisa Gill Howard, will stop by the inauguration ceremony before heading over to nearby Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Ice Center, where her daughter and Mr. Gill’s granddaughter, Gretchen Howard, will take the ice as one of the state’s best goaltenders for the undefeated Winthrop girls hockey team.
Lisa Howard, a highly acclaimed softball player who won a state title at Winthrop High and played Division 1 softball at Boston College, said she was proud of her father and the recognition he is receiving as the Person of the Year in Winthrop.
“This is the most well-deserved award that this family has ever received,” said Howard. “I think the Transcript got this one right. Nobody deserves this award more than my father. He bleeds Blue and Gold. His heart and soul is Winthrop. His whole life has been spent here. He is in this position as council president for no other reason but to make Winthrop the best community it can be. He has no other agenda, no ulterior motive.”