New Bedford City Councilor: ‘I Wish People Would Get Involved More’
There are still some people, like New Bedford Ward 2 City Councilor Maria Giesta, who pledge their allegiance to serving others for the greater good. It's not something that is too common these days; someone ought to figure out how to come up with a Maria Giesta template.
"I truly believe in public service. It's what I've done my whole life. I believe, we as Americans, have to give back to our community," she stated in an appearance on my program Monday morning.
For those who aren't aware, Giesta has a very impressive resume, working in Washington, D.C., for former Sen. John Kerry's office, then working for former Congressman Barney Frank as an executive assistant and later rising up to chief of staff, a post she held for 23 years until Frank's retirement in 2012.
"I'm honored to represent Ward 2 and I'm fortunate enough to sit on the city council with great people," Giesta said. "We all work well together, even though we have our differences, but we all know in the end, it's always about the people of New Bedford."
The upcoming 2021 local election isn't attracting many candidates. "I don't have any opposition this year, which great, but I wonder, is that because I'm doing such a great job? I hope that's what it is," she said.
It's not only elected public office that isn't enticing people; as the Standard-Times reported, there are over two dozen positions on various boards and commissions that are vacant.
"The disappointing thing is that I wish people would get involved more," Giesta said. "I understand everyone's busy, but still, I wish people would get more involved with their community government, if they want to make a difference in their city. Maybe they don't like how things are getting done. Then please, get involved."
We talked about the importance of New Bedford growing to a population of more than 100,000, according to the recent census.
"Congratulations New Bedford! This new designation will help us get more federal funding and grant money, that's of utmost importance," she said.
Speaking of federal funding, New Bedford is poised to receive $64.7 million in COVID relief money through the American Rescue Plan Act, and Giesta knows where she'd like to see those funds spent.
"It's all about infrastructure," she said. "Our roads, sidewalks, water pressure, catch basins and sewage. It would be incredibly disappointing if we couldn't use the money for that, because to me, roads and sidewalks are infrastructure. The last time we had infrastructure legislation out of Washington was with Eisenhower, back in the 1950s. We live in an old city, and we need a lot of help with repairing our roads and pipes." She did note, however, that DPI Commissioner Jamie Ponte is doing "a great job."
We spoke about the importance of younger people taking the future reins of leadership, which led Giesta to reveal, "I just turned 59 yesterday, and was thinking, oh my God, I'm 59 – the end of my 50s," she said. "I remember turning 21 the other day, and now, next year I'm going to be 60? I'm asking myself what happened? Time flies by very, very fast."
I'm in harmony with her thoughts about time going by so rapidly, but to answer her inquiry about what happened: Giesta, by design, filled the years of her public life helping others without expectation of reciprocation. When you think about it, giving without expectation of receiving is the truest definition of being of service.