By Jim Clark
Five outgoing members of the City of Somerville Board of Alderman were honored with special citations at last week’s regular meeting of the Board, in recognition of their service to the city.
Ward 3 Alderman Thomas F. Taylor, Alderman at Large Bruce M. Desmond, Ward 7 Alderman Robert C. Trane, Ward 1 Alderman Maureen Bastardi, and Ward 5 Alderman Courtney O’Keefe were each awarded commendations approved by the Board citing their “tireless advocacy and distinguished service” to their respective wards and the entire city.
Additionally, commendations were awarded to Alderman at Large and Board President William A. White Jr. for his service as President in 2013; to Alderman at Large John M. Connolly in recognition of his service as Vice-President of the Board in 2013; to Robert McWatters, who will assume a membership role on the Board next year as Ward 3 Alderman, for his service as Clerk of Committees from 1997 to 2013; to Assistant Clerk of Committees Peter Forcellese for his service in that position in 2013; and to Charles Sillari, also in recognition of his service as Assistant Clerk of Committees in 2013.
All honorees, with the exception of Alderman Taylor, were presented with their citations by Alderman Connolly at the speaker’s dais, and each one offered their thoughts on their tenure in their positions. They also expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to serve their city.
Although not present at the meeting, Alderman Taylor was especially honored for his service to the Board from 1986 to 2013, making him the longest-serving Ward Alderman in the city’s history. Everyone in the chamber rose for an inspired round of applause for the Ward 3 Alderman, who was in the hospital at the time.
In accepting his citation, Alderman at Large Bruce Desmond reminisced about his beginnings as a School Committee member, and all that came thereafter. “You put your best foot forward and just put the effort out there. You get along and people will work with you and respect you,” Desmond said, as he expressed his gratitude to the Board, the mayor, and his family.
Alderman Trane reflected on his term as Ward 7’s representative, saying, “It’s been a great run. I’ve loved every minute of it. To me it’s always been about the people and the friends that I’ve made along the way. My dad always told me about as you go through life you may be lucky to get five good friends. You count ‘em on one hand. Well, I’m a rich man, because I’ve got hundreds of great friends. And I want to thank you all.”
Outgoing Ward 1 Alderman Bastardi also expressed gratitude and affection for her constituents and colleagues. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Ward 1, not only as their School Committee representative but also this past year as their alderman,” she said. “I love this city. I love Ward 1. I can’t thank you all enough for your support and friendship, both personally and professionally, and I know that this board will continue to do the right things for the residents of this city.”
While acknowledging the controversial nature of her appointment as acting alderman after Sean O’Donovan’s retirement from the Board, Courtney O’Keefe of Ward 5 was both gracious and witty in her remarks to the assembly. “I thank you for the opportunity to sit in that seat. I look forward to the possibility of sitting with you again either as an alderman or as mayor of the city,” she coyly stated. “I got the opportunity to sit in that seat and vote for some really phenomenal legislation. But I have to say that my proudest moment was my very first vote. And that was posthumously appointing Sean Collier to the Somerville Police Department. And I just thought that that showed the power of this Board, that when somebody can’t make their own dream come true, we can do it for them.”
Everyone honored by the Board had their chance to speak of their experience in serving the city, and express their gratitude for having been granted the rare opportunity to do so.