Throughout this local election season, a tidal wave of young people found themselves upending political veterans, and in Everett, that was no exception as two young men in their 20s were elected last Tuesday, Nov. 3, over veteran councilors who are many years older.
The two young candidates are Anthony DiPierro, 20, who beat veteran Mike Marchese in Ward 3, and Michael McLaughlin, 29, who beat Sal Sachetta in Ward 6.
Both said they were not unknown in the City beforehand – having worked on several political campaigns and McLaughlin having been an elected official in the old form of government – but they had to work for the seat and did feel the tide of the voters.
“I think the trend everywhere is that residents want change and they want young blood, fresh ideas and young people involved in the community,” said McLaughlin. “In Revere, Brian Arrigo – a city councilor – became mayor over an incumbent. It was a year of wanting change and fresh ideas. Both Anthony and I were young candidates with ideas and we’re both ready to work under veteran leadership. I don’t know everything or half of everything. I’m going to learn a lot in the next two years, but I’m going in with an open mind and a positive attitude. People want you to learn from your mistakes rather than be someone who thinks they know everything.”
DiPierro ran an extensive door knocking campaign and one of the first coordinated social media campaigns in Everett history – something he said comes natural to a younger person.
At the front doors, the elderly warmed up to him, he said.
“They would say I was ‘cute’ and they liked what I had to say,” he laughed.
On social media, he was also able to reach a new voting block that he said really responded to his message.
“That absolutely reached a new and different voter,” he said. “I had people who had never voted before giving me their support and people would come up to me on the street. I got a lot of people who had never paid attention before. The social media strategy was huge in that respect. In Everett, no campaign had ever concentrated on social media like we did. We had the door knocking and the social media working together. We had 15,000 hits on Facebook and the organic numbers were huge too. My consultants said they had never seen anything like that.”
DiPierro said being a younger councilor does give him a fresh perspective that might have been missing before.
“Being young, it gives me a lot more accountability to other young people,” he said. “They might not have felt as comfortable approaching an elected official if there is a huge age gap. They may not feel comfortable coming up to that person on the street.”
One of those issues is trying out new parking meters that don’t require coins due to the fact that younger people are less likely to carry coins or cash.
“I think we should definitely go towards using the Smart Parking meters, even if it’s only in municipal parking lots,” he said. “We need to do that on a trial basis and see how it goes. No one I know in my age group carries around quarters anymore.”
He also added that he would be a great supporter of the schools as he is a recent graduate (2013).
McLaughlin – who will turn 30 later this week – said he has had a tough year through the campaign season – having a medical setback in the middle of the campaign that lasted several months. He thanked his friends and family members, especially Greg Antonelli, for continuing the fight until he was able to resume.
“It’s sort of like the comeback kid for me,” he said, noting that the Wynn Everett casino is in his ward. “With my medical setbacks and all the other things that have happened this year, I didn’t think it was my time. I have to thank the voters though for trusting in a young man like me and giving me this chance. So much is going to change in the next two years. I believe it is Everett’s time to shine like Cambridge or Somerville. To be the voice of that change and have a seat at the table is a great responsibility. You’re going to see hundreds of developers who want to build in Ward 6 to be close to the casino.”
Being younger, McLaughlin said he has a tremendous amount of respect for his opponent, Sachetta, and hopes the two can speak soon.
“I wish Councilor Sachetta the best in the world and I hope we can sit down soon and talk,” he said. “We haven’t been able to do that since Election Day, but I hope to because he will always be a leader in our community.”
Both young men will be sworn into office this coming January.
Newly elected Councilors Anthony DiPierro and Michael McLaughlin celebrate their wins surrounded by supporters including Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Senator Sal DiDomenico
YOUNG CANDIDATES WITH NEW IDEAS
Just one week after being elected to office, the two youngest members of the upcoming Council already have a set of priorities that they believe will reflect a wider swath of the City.
“The opiate issue is huge and was huge in my campaign,” said DiPierro. “Being able to share my family’s story was helpful in ending the stigma and getting people to talk about this. One of the first things I’m going to do is ask for the City to hire a substance abuse coordinator and put in for an advisory board to see what other cities are doing and what’s working best for families.”
Additionally, he said that
Glendale Square is on his agenda.
“People told me over and over that they want change in the Square,” he said.
For McLaughlin, his eyes are on the crowded schools, and he said he would advocate for a moratorium on residential building projects.
He points to the 450 units proposed for Air Force Road.
“There are discussions that need to happen long before we discuss 450 units on Air Force Road,” he said. “The Madeleine English School is bursting at the seams. I wouldn’t be opposed to sponsoring or co-sponsoring a moratorium on residential projects for 2016 so we can come up with a plan to address infrastructure and schools first.”