Video timeline: 02:30 Mayoral candidate John Connolly; 19:40 Operation Cleanup Review; 20:15 Councilor LaMattina and commendations for NECC VP Toni Gilardi; 24:25 General discussion
The North End Chamber of Commerce hosted Mayoral Candidate John Connolly at Tuesday’s monthly meeting held on October 1, 2013. It was a standing room only crowd with North End business owners and residents invited to attend.
This was the first general meeting reflecting recent changes on the NECC Board and was chaired by Vice President Toni Gilardi. President Donna Freni and 3rd Vice President Phil Orlandella are no longer on the Board. However, there are two new Board members, Craig Reaume (Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel) and Lisa Santarpio (Saint John School). Current Board members are listed on the NECC website.
The majority of the meeting was highlighted by comments from John Connolly. As one of the two finalists in the race for Boston’s next Mayor, Connolly is running against Marty Walsh in the November 5th general election.
Known primarily for his education focus, Connolly leaned away from that topic at the meeting to emphasize business and neighborhood issues. “The North End works better when small businesses and residents work together,” he said. The candidate also discussed his proposed “Buy Boston” program to “connect businesses on Hanover Street to those on Dorchester Avenue.”
Looking to increase efficiency at City Hall, he said, “You shouldn’t have to wait 8 months to get an occupancy certificate. When you walk into City Hall it should be like walking into an Apple store with people rushing at you with iPads asking ‘How can I help you?”
Connolly eventually came back to education through Boston Public Schools and the connection between better schools and safer neighborhoods. He gave high marks to the expansion of the North End’s Eliot K-8 school as giving families a reason to stay in the city rather than moving to the suburbs.
Speaking about the “daunting wealth gap in the city,” Connolly emphasized growing small businesses as part of the answer to provide new jobs.
He identified the lack of housing for middle class Bostonians caught between affordable housing and luxury condos. Connolly was one of the minority votes against Boston’s new rental inspection ordinance which he thought went too far.
Connolly’s speech received a standing ovation with words of appreciation from the NECC Board.
In other Chamber business, District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina also spoke at the meeting to thank NECC for organizing the recent Operation Cleanup event. He specifically noted the participation of Suffolk University students, including some who live in the neighborhood.
NECC VP Toni Gilardi was presented with official city and state citations for organizing the neighborhood cleanup. Councilor LaMattina read a citation from Boston City Council and Karen D’Amico from State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz also presented Gilardi with a commendation from the State House for the cleanup effort.