Emerson senior elected as town councilor

Richard+Fucillo+stands+in+front+of+the+State+House.

Photo: Zhuoli Zhang

Richard Fucillo stands in front of the State House.

By Camilo Fonseca, News Editor

Residents of Winthrop, Mass. elected Richard Fucillo Jr. to their town council in Tuesday’s municipal elections, the first victory in the Emerson senior’s burgeoning political career.

Fucillo, a communications major, ran unopposed for the town’s first precinct after making headlines in March while campaigning for the town’s open seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

He claimed victory with 411 ballots cast in his name, or 74 percent of the vote.

“There’s nothing I love more than my town and the people in it,” Fucillo said in an interview with The Beacon. “To be able to make decisions on things that are going to make Winthrop a better place to live—in my opinion, there’s nothing better.”

Fucillo’s bid for the State House ended with a second place showing to Democrat Jeffrey Turco—though a remarkable one for an independent candidate in the district. Despite his loss, the defeat was an important experience that helped lay the foundation for his town council run, he said.

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“I didn’t win that election, but I was able to put out a positive message and get my name out there,” Fucillo said. “A lot of people resonated with that [message], and they liked what they had to hear.”

Though he had “always planned” to run for the local office, he said he was spurred on by the positive reaction to his campaign earlier this year.

“It was just dependent on when,” he said. “A number of people asked me to run, and I said, ‘alright, maybe I should.’ So I got the papers, filled them out, and here I am now.”

Fucillo said he was looking forward to tackling the various priorities facing his 20,000 constituents. Chief among these priorities, he said, are the redevelopment of a former middle school, the reinvigoration of the town’s business district and the hiring of a permanent town manager.

He also stated that he would continue to advocate for many of the issues he highlighted during his State House run, including broadband internet access—which he once described as a “Comcast monopoly”—and inflated prices for utilities like water.

The biggest challenge facing Winthrop, Fucillo said, was collecting enough revenue to be able to fund the planned redevelopment. The North Shore town has an operating budget of $69 million for the current fiscal year; its annual revenue per capita of $3,685 makes up only five percent of this number, according to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

“We have to find ways of getting more revenue without putting the burden on the taxpayers of the town—because it is an expensive town to live in,” he said. “I’m going to have to work closely with the other members [of the council] to figure out how we’re going to do that.”

Fucillo suggested that redevelopment could spur more individuals to move to Winthrop, though he conceded that there was “a larger conversation to be had” about the exact mechanics.

The 23-year-old’s election was welcomed by many in the town like longtime incumbent councilor Jim Letterie, who was elected council president on Tuesday.

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him, and he has some really positive ideas for Winthrop,” Letterie said. “I’m very much looking forward to working with him.”

Letterie, like many in the small community, has known Fucillo for many years. Fucillo, he said, once played hockey with his daughter and baseball with his son.

This relationship only magnifies the contrast between Fucillo, still an undergraduate, and Letterie, who has served on Winthrop’s Town Council for 16 years. However, Letterie said the incoming councilor’s age was not a detriment in politics, but a benefit.

“At that young age, he’s gonna bring a new perspective to the council that we haven’t had in a long time,” he said.

Letterie added that the next two years on the council would provide ample time for the Emerson student to find his political footing.

“He’s a young man with a bright future, whatever he chooses to be,” he said.