SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 10, 2013

Rotondo wants to improve transparency

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — Todd and Michael Rotondo have been known for years as the guys who run Cafe Salerno on lower Cabot Street.

Now, the brothers have thrown their hats into the political ring. While Michael is running for Ward 1 city councilor, younger brother Todd is vying for one of the three at-large seats on the council.

Todd Rotondo said he’s running because of what he calls a “lack of transparency” in recent decisions by the city, including the granting of new liquor licenses and the pursuit of the Brimbal Avenue interchange project.

“It seems like there’s a lot more going on in the city that people don’t know about,” he said.

Rotondo said he and his brother grew up poor in Everett and opened up their first restaurant because “it was the only means of getting a meal every day.”

“My mother was a single parent with five kids,” he said. “I was 19 when I started my business with my brother. I fell into the business, and I still enjoy it. Every morning, I wake up and look forward to it. I enjoy being able to have contact with people all the time.”

The Rotondos ran Liberty Street Market in Danvers for five years before opening Cafe Salerno in 1998. The brothers live next door to each other on Kernwood Avenue, and both decided to run for City Council this year.

Having two family members running at the same time is not unusual to them, Todd said.

“We grew up in Everett, and Everett’s a unique city,” he said. “One year, there were four or five brothers running at the same time.”

Rotondo, who has a daughter at the high school and a son at Ayers Ryal Side, has been involved with school PTOs for years, including his current role as Ayers Ryal Side PTO president.

“I enjoy it, and I think I’m pretty effective at what I do,” he said. “There’s a lot of great people that do this.”

Rotondo said key issues facing the city include the need for a new middle school, public safety building, and street and sidewalk repairs. He also said city departments need more employees.

“We have very professional departments, but we are understaffed,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

Todd Rotondo Address: 29 Kernwood Ave. Age: 41 Employment: Owner, Cafe Salerno on Cabot Street Education: Everett High School Class of '91 Family: wife Patrice; children Paige, 16, and Aidan, 6 Previous elective office: None Community involvement: Ayers Ryal Side School PTO president; served on numerous ad-hoc committees for Beverly public schools; member of Beverly Main Streets Would you take the city's health insurance?: No Favorite pastime: "Volunteering. That's pretty much all I do."