By Seth Daniel
After a number of years in the Clerk’s office, and several as the City Clerk, Michael Matarazzo announced this week that he plans to retire from City Government at the end of the month.
Matarazzo grew up, for the most part, in Everett – moving to Baldwin Avenue from Somerville when he was 10 years old. He attended the Immaculate Conception School and Everett High School – taking an early interest in politics and elections, he said. He began his involvement with City Hall when he was 23 years old and won a seat on the Common Council in his third try.
After a stint at the State House in the offices of Gov. William Weld and Paul Cellucci, he returned to Everett in 2003 as an assistant city clerk. He took over the Clerk’s position when former Clerk John Hanlon won the mayoral seat more than 10 years ago.
“I came into City Hall a 23 year old single man and I am leaving at 63 and a grandfather of three – married for many years,” he laughed this week. “I’ve kind of burnt out. I never took vacations, came in on Saturdays, stayed late. I took my passion for the job and turned it into an obsession. There comes a time when you have to turn it off. That’s going to be very good advice to the next person here. Love it to death, but you have to step away every once in a while…Other people who have retired told me you will know when. I maxed out (my pension) in March. And I know when.”
Already, Matarazzo has drawn praise from those in the Hall that will miss him and have praised his years of work.
“Mike has been a friend, colleague, and mentor of mine,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “His love of Everett knows no bounds from serving on the Common Council to Clerk to Chairperson of the Everett Historic Commission. Mike’s passion for public service and his dedication to the City has been an inspiration to all and I will always appreciate his wisdom and advice. I want to wish him well on his retirement and future endeavors.”
Matarazzo’s office is the hub of City Hall, and virtually all things begin there – whether or not that’s the final destination for those calling or coming into the office. Until last year, the office handled elections, as well as licenses and City Council business.
With a keen instinct for keeping out of political squabbles and finding friends in all corners of the City, Matarazzo has been able to successfully navigate his Clerk’s office in a sometimes-difficult political climate.
“Everywhere in the world there is a Town or Village or City Clerk and people know that,” he said. “When they go to a City Hall or Town Hall, everyone is familiar with a Clerk’s office. So, everyone tends to start at the City Clerk. There’s no such thing in the Clerk’s office as saying, ‘That’s not my job.’ You’ve got to make it your job to help them or send them to the right place for the answer… In this office, the subject matter changes hourly.”
But his favorite subject matter isn’t elections or Council business, but rather the history of the city. After assuming duties in the office, Matarazzo quickly took to the vault where all of the historical records are kept.
During his lunch hours, he occupied himself by reading the death records of Everett residents from the past – learning of their accomplishments and trials and triumphs.
It was the history of Everett – something he said is very much untapped – that sparked his passion.
“I really kind of took that on,” he said. “There’s been some great people who lived here in the past…Everett often gets overlooked and it’s past is pretty unknown, but Everett was pretty big cog in the region.”
Some of his favorite people from the past include Al Pierotti, who played professional football in the days of Jim Thorpe. In addition, he played baseball for the Braves and wrestled for the World Championship.
“How can you beat that?” he asked.
Matarazzo also listed bringing programs from the Clerk’s Office to the Everett Public Schools with Supt. Fred Foresteire as a highlight, as well as transitioning the City from a bi-cameral legislature to a uni-cameral – including revamping the City Charter completely.
As the City moves forward without Matarazzo, he said he is very encouraged by how the Mayor’s Office and City Council have professionalized themselves, and how all ideas are considered carefully.
“I tip my cap to them,” he said. “They’ve really changed the public opinion of them. They’ve become very professional…There’s no more, ‘That’s not how we do things’ type of attitude. That doesn’t exist. It’s an attitude of ‘Let’s figure out how to do this.’ That’s what I’ve tried to bring here too. I think that’s why you see a change in Everett now. In the end, an idea might not be doable, but we at least consider it first. That’s a big plus.”
Matarazzo will officially retire on June 28 from City Clerk, and he is the last lifetime appointment in the City. The new Clerk will operate under a five-year appointment by the City Council under the new City Charter.
Long-time City Clerk Michael Matarazzo (far right) will retire at the end of the month, making way for the seventh Clerk of the City to assume his or her duties. He is pictured here with his staff, including Roberta Suppa, Cathy Philbrook, Sylvia Navarro-Olivares and Assistant Clerk Sergio Cornelio.