His positive influence and ongoing contributions to the betterment of daily life in Winthrop are everywhere, from the beautified entrances to the town, to the newly renovated parks, to the $80 million new school project, to his spearheading of legislation to curtail the high cost of flood insurance which would have placed an undue burden on families and local businesses.
His ability to secure funding for town projects and programs has been hailed regularly by Winthrop residents, from the $250,000 that was awarded for child and school safety grants in the town to the $25,000 he garnered for the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, to his immediate response to the results of the Logan Airport Health Study that led to Massport allocating funds for the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to open a satellite office in the town.
Many political observers consider him the most powerful public official in the state. Constituents regard him highly as an accessible and personable leader on Beacon Hill who has accomplished so much in developing and passing legislation to assist in vital causes such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health.
Boston Business Journal named him as one of The 50 Most Influential People in the state of Massachusetts, the only person at the State House to earn a spot on the list. While his important work as the leader of the 160-member House of Representatives requires his presence in big cities like Springfield, Worcester, and Lowell, and in smaller communities as well, he has never been more visible here, offering his personal support to Winthrop High athletic teams and local organizations and attending veterans’ observances, graduations, and social events.
For his incredible record of accomplishments state wide and in Winthrop and in recognition of his distinguished career that began as a Winthrop Town Meeting member and a selectman, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo is the Sun-Transcript’s “Man of the Year” for 2014.
“I’m very excited and honored to receive this award,” said DeLeo during a visit to the Transcript offices.
In an ensuing interview, DeLeo talked about the busy year that was on Beacon Hill.
“Many have called this one of the productive legislative sessions in the history of the Commonwealth,” he said proudly. “Some of the major pieces that we have accomplished were domestic violence legislation, gun violence legislation, and legislation relative to substance abuse, mental health care, and election reform. So we’ve brought in some real major pieces of legislation, big pieces that other states, and in some cases the nation have looked at but weren’t able to accomplish, so we were very proud of our efforts.”
Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assualt and Domestic Violence will honor DeLeo for his work on domestic violence at an awards ceremony this spring. The Association for Behavioral Health and the Gavin Foundation (Dorchester) presented major awards to the Speaker for advocating for the increased funding of substance abuse treatment programs. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh nominated DeLeo for the Gavin Foundation Award.
On three separate occasions, the Massachusetts Municipal Association honored DeLeo with the “Legislator of the Year” Award for his fiscal management.
DeLeo’s tireless efforts as Winthrop’s representative on Beacon Hill have jelled with the excellent leadership of Town Manager James McKenna, Assistant to the Town Manager Joseph Domelowicz Jr. and CFO Tim Gordon, and the stellar performance of the Town Council, School Committee, Supt. John Macero, Police Chief Terence Delehanty, Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, DPW Director Steve Calla and other department heads. Along with the new middle/high school building set to open in 2017 and Macero’s dynamic approach in the school system, Winthrop has been reinvigorated and become one of the most desirable communities in which to live in Massachusetts.
He enjoys his working relationship with McKenna, Gill, Macero and other town leaders and takes pride in his office’s close monitoring of town business and its rapid response to constituent phone calls and requests for assistance. There are 351 cities and towns over which he reigns as Speaker, but Winthrop is clearly No. 1 in his heart.
“One of the things that I am particularly proud of is the fact is, that despite my statewide duties being extensive, I always keep in my mind the importance of never forgetting your roots and where you came from – and who the people are who give you the opportunity to serve.”
DeLeo said he is currently working with the town to resolve the flooding issues on Veterans Road/Lewis Lake. He has placed the project into an environmental bond bill and is involved in continuing discussions with state officials about its impact on the town.
He has been rightfully proud of the considerable funding that he has obtained for the town’s benefit, notably the Coughlin Playground renovation, the new Belle Isle Bridge, the Chamber of Commerce, the 21st Century Community Learning Center’s after school programs, the bicycle pedestrian path linking the Belle Isle Marsh to Revere’s Short Beach and improvements to the Winthrop Street corridor.
From the outset, DeLeo was involved in the new school project, working closely with State Treasurer Steve Grossman and the Massachusetts School Building Authority. He followed the outstanding work of the School Building Assistance Committee led by Mary Lou Osborne and Jeff Dockendorff.
“I’m really proud that Winthrop will soon have a brand new school for its middle and high school students,” said DeLeo. “It seems like they’re really moving the project along very well and I’ve received nothing but compliments about the people doing the work.”
The $1 million in funding that he secured for renovations for the Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center that truly saved the facility from having to close its doors indefinitely was in sporting terms, a big-time save by the Speaker. The Winthrop Little League Field’s refurbishment represents another DeLeo-led triumph. A new turf at Miller Field has a spot on his legislative agenda for 2015.
The Winthrop Beach Renourishment Project, for which he long advocated, is ongoing and people are excited about the $27 million investment in the beach.
The Speaker was responsible for the most dramatic moment of 2014 when he took the microphone at a packed meeting at the Cummings School and asked MWRA Executive Director Frederick Laskey to stop the food waste pilot program that would have resulted in an increased number of trucks transporting waste through the town. Laskey immediately ceased the program to the wholehearted approval of the many Point Shirley residents who had brought focus to the issue.
The MWRA situation was yet another example of DeLeo defending the town’s best interests and supporting the people of his district. “I don’t back down whether it’s the Governor or the people in Washington. I’m proud of the fact that first and foremost I’ll take on whomever I have to, in the best interests of the people and I have done that.”
Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore, who remembers DeLeo’s service on the Winthrop Board of Selectmen and his election as state representative in 1990, congratulated the Speaker on his “Man of the Year” honor.
“You couldn’t have picked a better Man of the Year than Bob DeLeo,” said Boncore. “He has done so much for this town in his positions as representative, Chairman of Ways and Means, and now as Speaker of the House. He’s always cared about Winthrop and he’s always done the best for Winthrop. We couldn’t ask for a better representative for the Town of Winthrop.”
“Bob has been doing a great job for the town,” said Councilor Paul Varone. “We’re lucky to have him as Speaker of the House and also as one of our own.”
Chief Flanagan said DeLeo’s support of firefighters across the Commonwealth has been outstanding. “Any time we’ve reached out to Speaker DeLeo’s office, you know you’re going to get a call back. He’s been a great friend to the Winthrop Fire Department.”
Senator Anthony Petruccelli, who represents Winthrop in the State Senate, extended his congratulations to DeLeo, saying, “I join with other well wishers across the community in congratulating the Speaker on receiving the distinction of the Winthrop Sun Transcript’s Man of the Year. His unwavering commitment and dedication to the Town of Winthrop has made him exceedingly worthy of this acknowledgement.”