By Acting Mayor Patrick M. Keefe, Jr.
Our City Charter dictates that upon a vacancy in the mayor’s office, the President of the City Council takes on the Mayoral duties and is called “Acting Mayor.” Though the title says “Acting”, the responsibility to oversee continuity in the never-ending function of city government is real, it is important, and it is essential to assure the city’s well-being for all our residents and businesses. Acting Mayor is a responsibility I have embraced with passion and determination.
Why is executive leadership critical to our city’s well-being?
Consider that the city’s government is personified in over 2000 full- and part-time public employees who do everything from teach children to read, maintain law and order, care for our parks and recreational facilities, put out fires, keep our aging infrastructure operable, assist those in need, respond to constituent requests, provide service for veterans, and so much more – along with all the administrative obligations necessary to implement every one of those tasks.
Over thirty years’ experience in private industry and management make me acutely aware that the employees in every workplace deserve open communication, a voice, and a stake in how we serve our clients, customers, and people. This is especially crucial in times of transition. Accordingly, on my second day as Acting Mayor, I convened a meeting among all city employees to set out my expectations and discuss how we will continue to deliver the high-quality municipal services that our residents deserve. This was a gathering in one place of talent, ideas, and resources that had not occurred in many years – if ever – at City Hall. Assuring an informed and valued work-staff, and getting the best of their potential, is a basic element of effective leadership. City of Revere staff heard directly from me that my office has an open door and I have an open mind.
I also met individually with department heads to gain a candid understanding of how they feel they can bolster constituent services while exploring new methods to fulfill our roles as public servants.
During my first month on the job, I visited each of the city’s schools to get an in-person appreciation of the challenges and successes that our educators and students experience every day. I am a parent of two Revere Public Schools students – one graduated last year and one a high school senior in September – and my perspective from the Mayor’s office will reflect my perspective as a parent.
From the school visits, I see clearly how our schools remain afflicted in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic. In a sense, our schools suffer from an institutional version of Long Covid. The strain to overcome the loss of learning endured during school closures in 2020 and 2021 lingers. Today, teachers and students alike are burdened with consequences such as increased demand for mental health services, classroom disruptions and unrest, and uncertainty about the future of public education.
Making matters worse, our students and educators are concerned about the future of a new Revere High School. Those of us in municipal government have an obligation to the teachers and students that we will make every effort to facilitate the construction of a new Revere High School, and I will advocate that opinion in every forum that I can.
Of course, June isn’t just a time when the weather turns nice. It is the peak of budget season, when the costs of running city government come into vivid focus. The City’s financial team has completed a comprehensive draft budget and is now immersed in advanced analysis and projections to calculate the most cost-effective way to pay for the City’s operation while assuring we are prepared for the issues that will inevitably – if unpredictably – arise.
I stepped into the Mayor’s office last month with the experience of directing the operations and financial oversight in an industry where customer satisfaction is paramount. I know that executive leadership requires partnerships, organization, an appreciation for regulatory structure, and a ready willingness to respond to issues while remaining focused on strategic objectives. It is not unlike government.
While the full scope of an Acting Mayor’s authority is constrained by our Charter, the Mayor’s duties and the city’s strategic objectives do not wait. With that in mind, I am committed to advancing municipal projects that are vital to our city’s welfare and must not languish in the half-year until a new Mayor is elected. I am committed to facilitating the completion of the Robert J. Haas Wellness Center and have appointed a Project Manager to pilot that project to conclusion. I have approved the recruitment of 11 new firefighters as we strive to meet adequate staffing levels. Similarly, we have ordered new fire department apparatus that will provide our fire fighters state-of-the-art equipment to meet the demands of modern public safety.
I do not assume I can do it all alone. I am working with a team of talented individuals, including staff from City Hall and outside consultants with decades of experience guiding public sector transitions. We are focused on short-term improvements as well as long-term visions.
Dedicated and energetic leadership during the remainder of this year and beyond will make Revere thrive. As “Acting Mayor” I promise that my every act will be toward that end.