Rizzo began by talking about the district, and the common issues he thinks apply throughout: people are concerned about property taxes, want good schools, and worry about crime. He pointed out that, as Revere councilor at-large, he represents about 37,000 people in the district, compared to the 27,000 people in the district who are currently represented by Petrucelli (an east Boston state rep).
Rizzo talked about the choices cities and towns have to make: cut services, or raise property taxes. Local aid has not recovered, and this is one of his priorities. On that topic, he said he is glad that “we have a more forward-looking Governor now” but that “he’s only been in office a few months and already there is resistance” in the legislature for his proposals. Rizzo positions himself as an ally for Deval Patrick on corporate loophole closings, local aid increases, and reducing property taxes.
He talked about the size and breadth of the district, and how important he feels constituent service is. One thing Travaglini was know for, he remarked, was good constituent service … and a chorus of “not in Cambridge!” came back from the room. Rizzo said that he was surprised to hear that, because he’d had a different impression from his point of view “from the other side of the bridge”. He was also saddened to hear that Travaglini had neglected constituent service in Cambridge, which, he noted, has 25% of the district. He promised to do better.
Oh, and about that nonpartisan redistricting question: He is in favor. He thinks when legislators get together to decide their own districts, you get unfortunate results, and he’s even seen ward boundaries redrawn specifically to benefit municipal incumbents.
After he left, we discussed some other aspects of the race.
One thing that came up was gay marriage. MassEquality endorsed Petrucelli, but that’s no surprise: he’s a legislative incumbent who has voted in favor of gay marriage, and Rizzo is not in the legislature. He is also in favor of gay marriage. Also, some people expressed worry about what would happen if Petrucelli moved up to the senate and an old-school East Boston politico were elected to replace him in the house: there’s a reasonable chance that new rep would be opposed to marriage equality.
We also discussed the interesting role Cambridge plays in this election. With Toomey out, we don’t have a hometown favorite; Revere and East Boston each do. The populations of Winthrop, and the downtown portion of the district, are relatively very small. Cambridge, with 25% (about the same as East Boston, somewhat less than Revere) is the swing vote. Certainly a lot of this will hinge on turnout: how many Revere voters Rizzo can pull to the polls vs. how many East Boston voters Petrucelli can pull to the polls. But if one of them wins a significant majority in the Cambridge portion of the district, that would likely be decisive.
In that light, it was interesting for me to see how much support Dan Rizzo seems to have among both Cambridge progressives and Cambridge elected officials. State Senator Jarrett Barrios, Cambridge mayor Ken Reeves, former mayor (and consistent top vote-getter in city ellections) Anthony Galluccio, and former Cambridge Democratic Committee chair Laurie Taymor-Berry, are among his supporters. So are Boston progressives like Maura Hennigan and Chuck Turner. And he’s definitely campaigning a lot in Cambridge.
Some upcoming opportunities to see Dan Rizzo in Cambridge:
- Rally for Rizzo
Sunday, May 20, noon-2p
Zuzu (Middle East), 474 Mass Ave
- Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association
Tuesday, May 22nd, 7-9pm
8 Woodrow Wilson Court (near Pleasant & Fairmount)