While some are saying the removal of long-time Zoning Board member Mike Dantone is political retribution, Mayor Carlo DeMaria this week said that couldn’t be further from the truth and is actually a move over several years to diversify Boards in the City.
Last week, Dantone confirmed that he had been removed from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) after 15 years of service. A letter from the mayor dated Aug. 27 indicated his last day of service was to be Aug. 31.
Dantone said he goes to nearly every meeting, makes site visits, and has had to be involved in legal issues related to the Board a number of times over the years. He said he takes the job very seriously, but did not know why specifically he was removed.
Mayor DeMaria told the Independent any talk of political retribution is totally false.
“There was no politics in it at all,” he said. “I’ve been asking board members the last two years to step off if they’ve been on a Board for too long…I could care less who held a sign for Mike. Antonio Amaya is on a Board and he held a sign for Mike and I didn’t rescind him. People are welcome to vote for whomever they want and hold signs if they want.”
He said the effort is all about diversifying the Boards to reflect the current population and make sure no one is serving too long and making decisions inconsistent with the times.
“Everyone else has been ok with it,” he said. “I do not want someone on a Board for 20 years. We had Joe DeSisto on the ZBA far too long and he ran it like it was his…We really need to increase the diversity on that Board. I don’t want people on that Board who have friendships with developers.”
He said the ZBA has recently elected a new chair in Mary Gerace, and he said he will have her run the ZBA for a few years and then ask her to step off the Board and onto another Board if she wishes.
“That’s all I’m doing here,” he said.
To that end, he said he has nominated Le Cao to replace Dantone as part of his initiative to increase diversity and nominate Everett residents that haven’t ever served on a Board. He said he put out the request for applications and was impressed with Cao in the interview.
“I thought he was very interesting and had some good ideas about how developers can contribute, like adding to a public Wi-Fi network,” said the mayor.
Cao was not immediately available when contacted by the Independent.