By John Lynds
In his East Boston High School yearbook City Councilor Sal LaMattina wrote he wanted to Mayor of Boston. At that young age LaMattina already made up his mind that he wanted to dedicate his life to serving others.
While LaMattina did not make it as far as mayor in during his political career his work over the past 30 years for the City of Boston, the past eleven of which was spent as District 1 City Councilor, has left a lasting impact on East Boston.
For this Sal LaMattina is the East Boston Times 2017 Man of the Year.
When sworn in for his fifth term LaMattina became the senior member and Dean of the Boston City Council. However, towards the end of his term LaMattina made the tough decision to not seek reelection.
“It’s time,” he simply said.
But while his leadership will be missed, LaMattina’s work in the neighborhood that began in 1987 as a Neighborhood Services Coordinator for former Mayor Ray Flynn has been filled with success.
Raised by a single mother in a household with three brothers, LaMattina worked hard and become the first in his family to graduate from college.
His first job after college was at Crossroads Family Shelter were he cared for some of the most vulnerable residents in our neighborhood that found themselves homeless and needing help.
He easily segued into public service at City Hall, first as a Neighborhood Services Coordinator and later as conduit between the residents affected by the Big Dig and City Hall.
“For me my life and career has been about helping people,” said LaMattina.
This call to public service, LaMattina said, could be traced back to his time at East Boston Camps.
“Our motto was ‘When all give, All gain” and I tried to carry that lesson with me my entire life,” said LaMattina.
In the 1980s when many of LaMattina’s friends and family were moving out of Eastie. He and his wife, Lisa, decided to stay and established Eastie Pride Day–the yearly celebration that celebrates the community and its people.
Then, after winning the District 1 City Council seat in 2006, LaMattina dedicated his tenure in the council to improving Eastie’s quality of life.
“It’s about delivering basic City Services,” he said. “When there’s a fire, when an elderly residents is facing a housing crisis, when the youth need more to keep them out of trouble the City should be there to take care of its people.”
During LaMattina’s tenure Eastie added acres of new greenspace, a new library, a new Charter High School, waterfront development, a redevelopment of Central Square and Paris Street Gym and every park in Eastie has been redone is slated to be redone.
With waterfront development finally happening in Eastie, LaMattina focused his attention in Eastie on the current and future developments along the neighborhood’s water’s edge towards the end of his Council career.
“Waterfront development is something that I am very proud of because I have fought for decades for developers to build here,” he said. “We worked closely with developers about maintaining and allowing waterfront access for the public by focusing on one, unified harbor walk while continuing to fight for ferries.”
In the end LaMattina has laid the foundation for a new Senior Center in Eastie, called for a new middle school and lobbied for more workforce housing.
“It’s been a great career and we’ve accomplished a lot but there is still work to be done and while I’m leaving the Council I’m not leaving Eastie so I’ll still be standing with residents and advocating for what the neighborhood deserves. I have said it before and I truly believe the best is yet to come for East Boston.”