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Arrigo seeks change to School Committee composition

Proposes additional ward seats, reduce at-large seats

Brian Arrigo Mayor
Brian Arrigo
Mayor

Mayor Brian Arrigo is proposing a charter change that would create School Committee ward seats and increase its size by two members. “The restructuring would reduce the amount of at-large seats on the School Committee to two, and would establish six seats selected from within each of our city’s wards,” Arrigo stated in a letter to the City Council. “The net effect of restructuring would result in two additional seats on the School Committee, for a total of 9 members.”

If Arrigo’s order is approved by the City Council, it would then be referred to Revere’s state legislative delegation for introduction as a special act before the full legislature. Arrigo stated that he anticipates the restructuring taking place before next year’s municipal elections.

“Candidates for next year’s election will have the option of running within the ward in which they live or for one of the two at large seats,” Arrigo stated in a separate letter to the School Committee.

The School Committee is presently comprised of the mayor and six at-large members.

Monday night, the City Council accepted the letter from the mayor and moved that the issue be discussed at the next meeting of its Legislative Affairs Subcommittee.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Revere resident Wayne Rose asked why the city is moving forward to change the composition of the School Committee. “I think the School Committee works the way it should,” said Rose, but then he added that in his opinion the School Committee should be disbanded altogether rather than making it bigger.

Councilor-at-Large Marc Silvestri said the proposed charter change came about because Revere is one of the few cities in the state that has a solely at-large School Committee. He noted that the few cities that did operate solely at-large faced successful lawsuits and that a similar suit could be aimed at Revere.

“In the 2017 federal voting rights suit of Huot v. City of Lowell, the City of Lowell ultimately fell under a consent decree where they were barred from utilizing an exclusively at large electoral system for their municipal elections,” Arrigo stated in his letter to the School Committee. “The decree allowed for possible alternatives to include an exclusively ward-based system or a hybrid option such as the one the City of Revere is proposing.”

Worcester and other municipalities have similarly reformed or sought to reform their charters in response to threats of federal voting rights suits.

“The plaintiffs in each of these cases have been represented by Lawyers for Civil Rights and coalitions of corporate litigators and community organizers,” stated the mayor. “The suits allege that exclusively at large elections illegally dilute the voting power of minority voters in violation with the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.”

Arrigo said that as a minority-majority community with varying levels of diversity across its six wards as well as scant elected officials of minority backgrounds, Revere is particularly vulnerable to a similar lawsuit.

 

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