By Seth Daniel
After many years on the Council, but never being Council President, Councilor at-Large Peter Napolitano will take the role of president in the coming 2018 session of the Everett City Council.
Having served on the Common Council and the City Council – with some breaks when he ran for alderman and mayor – since 1999, Napolitano brings a wealth of experience to a City that is functioning very cooperatively.
“I’m ready to take this on,” he said Monday night, announcing officially he had secured a unanimous vote of his colleagues to be the next president. “Given my history in politics, to have my colleagues unanimously decide they want me to lead the Council next year is a turning point. It’s acceptance. We’re working very well together and this is the third session with the new unicameral system. It’s working well and I don’t think that can be denied. This is important to me. I didn’t get into politics to make friends. It was to make changes that weren’t popular. So, this means a lot to be accepted as the next president.”
Napolitano said there was one other councilor seeking president, but they were able to work it out amicably so that Napolitano could secure the votes. That was something he did last year, stepping aside when current Council President Anthony DiPierro decided to seek the position.
Napolitano is the longest-serving councilor who has never held the seat. If the votes hold up, he will take the gavel from DiPierro after the Inauguration Ceremony in January.
Napolitano said an understanding of his past is key to understanding who he is and how he will lead for the coming year.
He got into politics when he was a business owner in Everett Square and saw many things that concerned him. Eventually, he said, he told his wife he had to do something. Quite often, that ‘something’ involved scrapping Everett’s unique, but cumbersome, bi-cameral municipal government. That old system, which was revised some four years ago, included a Board of Alderman and a Common Council. It was comprised of about 25 members altogether.
That was just too many, Napolitano said, and he frequently fought to bring in the current form of government. That, however, was not a popular position amongst his colleagues on the Common Council and the City Council.
“My objective was to always get the matter to the voters and see what they chose,” he said. “I wanted to downsize the City Council. You don’t make too many friends from that standpoint with your colleagues when you want to take it from 25 to 11 members. It was difficult. I was blacklisted for a lot of the time I served. But I knew that wasn’t going to make anyone happy.”
One thing Napolitano said he plans to do very soon is address the Charter Commission’s unfinished work from a few years ago, as well as the Ordinance Committee from last year. He said he plans to speak with Mayor Carlo DeMaria about it over the holidays. A few years ago, the Charter Commission met several times and had many recommendations, but due to a resignation, never got to finish those required changes.
“I want to make sure we can get those suggestions implemented and I want to make sure there aren’t any loose ends left,” he said.
He said he also wants to look at getting a budget item for the City Council to be able to access for celebrations – such as when the body handed out popcorn at the Movie Nights and 4th of July celebrations this year.
Also, he said he wants to make sure residents are more aware of the fact that the Council has a Public Speaking agenda item, something that allows residents to be able to come up and voice any concern during the meeting.
“I want people to know that exists and also to have a way for the Council to follow that up afterward,” he said.
Most importantly, he said he wants to make sure the Council balances its strong personalities, that everyone stays on task, gets the work done and doesn’t embarrass the City.
He said he hasn’t decided on any Committee assignments yet, but will take that up in January.
Napolitano is married to Vivian Napolitano, and they have four adult children: Arielle, Jessica, and twin sons, Adam and Mathew.