By Cary Shuman
Ron Vecchia, who has been involved in town government for various capacities for 45 years, has announced that he will be a candidate for the position of president of the Winthrop Town Council in the November election.
Vecchia is a current member of the Winthrop School Committee and in his third year as a member of the Boardof License. A 1965 graduate of Winthrop High School, he and his wife, Linda Vecchia have four daughters and seven grandchildren. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and is a retired employee of General Electric.
Vecchia’s record of service to the town is quite impressive. He was elected to the Winthrop Board of Selectmen three times (in the mid-1980s and late-1990s) and served on the board with current Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, Robert Noonan, Marie Turner, Martin O’Brien, Richard DiMento, and Gerry Ogus.
Why has he decided to run for the town’s highest elected office?
“I’m concerned about the community,” said Vecchia. “I have a lot at stake with my family. I believe there are so many great things that they have happened over the course of the last 4-6 years. We have a brand new school. The town has never looked so good in terms of all the great things that they happened – the upgrades to Veterans Field, the upgrades the DPW have done on Veterans Road, and the new gateway in to Winthrop – there are so many positive things happening in Winthrop.
“And I think that I am the most qualified person to continue the positive direction the town is going in.”
Vecchia began his commitment to public service as a member of the Winthrop Conservation Commission.
“At the time, there was illegal dumping and filling happening on Morton Street. A contractor wanted to build homes there and we stopped it. We issued cease and desist orders. Mary Kelley, who’s still serving on the commission, has done masterful job through the years protecting the great marsh area. And just a few weeks ago, we had a groundbreaking for a new marine park. These are the types of things that were done many years ago that are impacting the community in a positive way today.”
Vecchia also noted that he was a member of the Selectmen when the town began the last revitalization project for Winthrop Center. He was board chairman when the town wrote the first mitigation package with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
“My understanding is that it was one of the biggest mitigation packages – $24 million over 10 years. That was the first one and we negotiated many mitigation packages with Massport. So the experience is there.”
Vecchia outlined a number of “talking points” that he will address in the course of his campaign such as transparency in government and education.
“We need our government to be open, accessible, and responsive – but more importantly, respectful of each and every citizen’s vision and opinion. A top priority will be the new town manager search committee and I would propose the committee be made up of a broad spectrum of community interests. If elected, I will begin office hours at Town Hall for the town council president.”
Vecchia stressed the importance of education, saying that, “we have a dynamic new superintendent of schools (Lisa Howard), great teachers, new buildings – and I think it’s so important that we offer after-school programs so that they stay off the streets and do something constructive. I would like to see more substance abuse education starting in the early grades in school.”
Regarding the development of the former Middle School site on Pauline Street, Vecchia said, “we need to be sensitive to the neighborhood and it has to be a well-balanced project that not only brings affordable housing and more money to the tax base but also provides for recreation for our children and adults.”
He said he would conduct a review of the Shirley Street business district and collaborate with business owners and property owners in the district on a plan to attract visitors and stimulate business.
“That is the only way in my opinion that the ferry is really going to be successful. We have to have some type of point where people want to go to in the town. We have many great restaurants in town, but we need to really focus on trying to improve the drop-off point where people will want to come to Winthrop.”
Vecchia said that as council president he will make sure the Winthrop Police and Fire Departments “have the resources they need to do the job.”
He said he would work toward an updating project for the Winthrop police station and address “the need of a new Central Fire Station.” He praised the DPW for “a tremendous job” in the town and pledged additional services for seniors.
Vecchia has been busy collecting signatures for his nomination papers, meeting residents, and developing a campaign slogan. He joins a field of candidates for the position that includes Councilor-at-Large Rich Boyajian, former Council president Jeffrey Turco, and Town Transportation Committee member Christopher Aiello.
“I look forward to working on the issues, discussing my candidacy with the public. I wish all of the candidates well. I believe I am the most qualified candidate and I look forward to debating my record, my list of accomplishments, and my vision for the town with all of the candidates.”