Mayor’s proposed “Office of New Residents” greeted with warm reception

For those involved, the Office of New Revere Residents, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to addressing the needs of newcomers to Revere, is not merely a symbolic gesture, but a commitment to the idea that city government, first and foremost, works for the people.

Following its often-stated dedication to government transparency, the Rizzo administration created the new office upon recommendation of the New Citizenship committee, which formed part of the Transition Team that released its findings in a 14-page document on February 17. “The new office will be staffed with volunteers from the community and will work to ensure city government is available to all who are in need,” the document states.

The administration launched the office in an inaugural public meeting last Wednesday night in the City Hall Council Chamber, which was filled to overflowing with local business leaders, politicians, and interested citizens.

Heading this new office is a committee of multi-ethnic representation, consisting of Laurie Holmes, Makinson Louis, Mohammed Gheraissa, and Silvia Sandoval. Ms. Holmes remarked that this is a historic event for Revere. This office will “create a space and a culture open to new residents,” she added. “We want all to be welcome.”

Mr. Louis, who stated that he represents the Haitian community, echoed Holmes’s excitement when he said that that “this is an amazing day for the city of Revere.”

Mayor Dan Rizzo added that the idea behind this office is to live as one connected city.”The goal is to be a resource for people in our community.” Residents will be able to get help from people who care, he continued. “City government is here to serve the people.” “What can we do to help you get involved in business and even government?” he asked, reflecting J.F.K.’s “Ask not” speech.

State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, upon remarking that she is a proud “townie,” commended the mayor for this unprecedented motion.  “We want every person who lives here to be part of government,” she said.

Revere, one of the fastest growing cities in Massachusetts, has a rich history as a community for immigrants and migrant workers. Bob Upton, First Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and founder of the historical project RevereBeach.com, noted that the city’s beach, America’s first such public entity, was established for immigrants who worked in the Boston area. Now, it serves a whole new generation of people from around the world who settle in Revere, he said.

For the majority of the meeting, the committee listened to suggestions and commentary from citizens in attendance—many of whom have been living and working in Revere for several years—regarding the needs of the community and issues that the new office should address. And for the most part, those who spoke seemed to respond with a positive attitude about the event, the new office, and the Rizzo administration in general.

Popular themes covered during the evening consisted of increased access to English-language classes for new immigrants, financial aid for in-school and extra-curricular programs for students, and streamlining communication between the administration and the public.

Other speakers stressed problems with home foreclosures and the city’s high taxes and water rates, which remain a burden on many of Revere’s residents.

And additional speakers, in general terms, offered their assistance to the Rizzo administration.

Although there are no immediate plans for a second meeting, the Office of New Residents is looking to future projects, such as more translation services and a voter registration drive during the summer, said Miles Lang-Kennedy, who serves as Assistant to the mayor.

New residents to Revere interested in the services of the new office may contact revere_mayor@revere.org.

“This is the beginning,” Holmes said. “We know this will be successful because all members of the community are involved.”

The office is still a work in progress: “We’ll keep coming back to the community asking for your help,” she added.