Town Council President Candidates Bring Opinions Forward in Heated Debate

By Kate Anslinger

A heated discussion ensued between Town Council President candidates Ron Vecchia, Jeff Turco and Rich Boyajian, last Wednesday night in a WCAT cable television debate sponsored by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, WCAT and the Winthrop Sun Transcript.

Past School Superintendent, John Macero, moderated the two-hour-long debate. The panelists included George Rainville, representing WCAT; Vin Recchia, of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce; Kate Anslinger, of the Winthrop Sun Transcript; and Alyssa Ferrara, WHS Student Council president. This is the first time that a member of the student body sat as a panel member.

After candidates shared their opening remarks, the panel asked a total of twelve questions, and candidates had ninety seconds to answer. Following the panel questions, each candidate was allowed to ask three questions to the other candidates.

This is the first time in several years that three candidates contended for the position of town council president. Vecchia, a native of Winthrop, is currently serving on the Winthrop School Committee and the Winthrop Board of License Commission. Turco, an attorney by trade, served as Town Council President in 2010 and 2011 and is seeking to return to the position. Boyajian, an oncology nurse practitioner and current councilor-at-large, is also vying for the seat.

Vecchia has expressed the accessibility he would offer the town if he were elected, as he is retired and would be completely dedicated to the position.

“I will be visible and around on a regular basis,” said Vecchia, who yearns to preserve what is good about Winthrop. “I’m all about the community.”

Candidates were asked questions regarding the condition of Winthrop Beach, new business opportunities in the town and the opioid epidemic.

“We don’t need to bring people from outside the community to Winthrop to buy marijuana,” said Turco, who made it clear that it’s the community’s obligation to address the drug problem.

Boyajian voiced his desire to partner with other communities and institutions in hopes of maximizing the resources needed to battle the opioid epidemic, and Vecchia shared his opinions on the importance of educating our youth about the inherent dangers of opioid abuse.

When it came to economic development, all three candidates had a lot to share about their plans if they were elected. Vecchia pushed the importance of keeping neighbors informed while creating a positive atmosphere so the developer feels good about coming into the community. Boyajian leaned toward hiring a town planner, investing in infrastructure and putting a development checklist into place to ensure organization. Turco shared his strong feelings for new growth and commercial development.

“The only way to raise revenue for the town is through new growth, commercial and residential development, by Prop. 21/2 overrides or by saving money,” said Turco. “It’s the job of the council president and the councilors to go out there, and share the fiscal reality of the budget.”

Prior to the closing remarks, candidates asked each other questions that they felt were of importance.

For example, Turco asked if the other candidates thought about the legal ramifications of accepting Miller Field for the Thanksgiving Day game, and Vecchia confirmed that the town would be acquiring an occupancy permit for the day, which is signed off by all required agencies.

All three candidates expressed their desire to better Winthrop, and they all shared goals of acquiring the aid of Sen. Joseph Boncore and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo along the way.

The debate can be viewed on WCAT Channel 22 or on You Tube.

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