By Cary Shuman
Jeffrey Rosario Turco, who served as president of the Winthrop Town Council in 2010 and 2011, is seeking to return to the position.
Turco pulled nomination papers last Thursday and has been collecting signatures as he embarks on his campaign for the town’s top elected office.
The 6-foot-6-inch attorney won the 2009 election for town council president, besting two well-known candidates, Barbara Survillas and Susan Bolster, while receiving 50 percent of the vote. Turco had a very productive two-year term, building on the excellent work of his predecessor, Thomas Reilly, while advancing the town forward and introducing his own new initiatives.
However, Turco lost a close election to Peter Gill in 2011 and also a rematch in 2013. Both elections were barnburners and it took an all-out and excellently run campaign by Gill, a member of a popular and longtime Winthrop family, to edge Turco on both occasions.
Why is Turco launching what he hopes will be a triumphant return to Town Hall as council president?
“It’s simple. I think the town needs leadership right now,” said Turco. “There’s a lot of change going on. We have a new superintendent aboard with Mrs. [Lisa] Howard, there’s going to a new town manager coming in, and the next council president is going to set the tone and direction for the next 5-10 years so it’s a critical election for the town. Having sat on the sidelines for the last number of years, I look at it and felt the town needs leadership, I am the leader that can work for the town.”
Turco, 45, is proud of the accomplishments he had during his term as council president.
“The biggest thing was on the school side when we made full-day kindergarten free for Winthrop parents,” he said. “The town continues to benefit from that decision today, both the parents who are not paying the tuition, but also because of the way the state educational formula works, the town gets more money today than it would have if the parents had continued to pay.”
Turco also noted the increased funding of the sidewalk repair project while he was president and the improved financial condition of the town. He also reappointed James McKenna to the position of town manager, a decision that was unanimously supported by the Council.
“I think the town manager has done a good job,” said Turco. “He’s been in office for roughly 10 years and I think change is always a good thing for a community both from his standpoint but also for the town.”
Turco said the education of Winthrop students is one of his top priorities.
“Education and the schools are going to determine the property values, whether people want to sell or buy in Winthrop, and the prime objective is to improve the schools,” said Turco.
He also wants to work with the public safety community (police and fire departments) “to make sure they have the resources necessary” to best serve and protect the town’s residents.
He said the town is going through a very exciting phase with the opening of the new middle/high school, the redevelopment of Winthrop Center, and the redevelopment plans for the old Winthrop Middle School site.
“There has been a lot of effort put in to looking at the Center. How do we go about maximizing the use of the properties and sustaining the businesses there and bringing more people to the Center? It’s something that I’m looking forward to being a part of, but more importantly working with the Council and School Committee to find a town manager that can help follow through on some of the good work that Mr. McKenna has done.”
Turco praised the work of the town’s state legislative duo of Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo and Sen. Joseph Boncore.
“I look forward to working with our legislative delegation to help Winthrop on so many critical issues,” said Turco. “The grants we have received would never have been possible without their leadership and that of former senator Anthony Petruccelli. Speaker DeLeo has been outstanding in helping our town and our residents in so many areas.”
Turco, 45, is a graduate of Malden Catholic High School and UMass/Amherst and received his Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University. His law offices are in Chelsea.
Turco and his wife, Melissa, have six children, Rosario, 12, Mary, 10, Joseph, 9, Dominic, 7, Grace, 5, and Matteo, 1.