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Sasso retires as Town applaudes him and approves a $70.7 million budget

May 10, 2012

He came to Marblehead’s government through a thankless seat on the Finance Committee, where he served for several years as a hardworking member and then as Vice Chairman. He was there when things were really bad, layoffs and cutbacks and sleepless nights. Then he became the Town’s first Town Administrator facing the gauntlet of a Board of Selectmen long used to doing things their way. But in the end, Anthony M. Sasso, a boy from Revere, showed those Marbleheaders a better way. The right way.

In eighteen years of championing professionalism and accountability, Tony made the Town’s reality finally match its well-loved and often touted myth of being a really “well run town.” During his years, the Selectmen really could pronounce the self-congratulatory phrase with a well-earned self-assurance, rather than merely the standard bravado. Avoiding unnecessary overrides and pushing through overrides that were really needed, Marblehead’s tax rate remains low and the quality of its services remain remarkably high by any measure, and especially when compared to the towns and cities around it. As the audience applauded him, standing by their yacht club chairs, a reporter wondered if Tony was remembering those early days when his appointment was hotly debated; those days when his office was surrounded with angry citizens, and those bargaining sessions that went on endlessly. Working long hours, bypassing raises, listening to ill-informed Selectmen take cheap shots at him for political gain, leaving his family alone to solve Town problems on holidays and weekends, and being there every time he was needed … was he thinking, on that clear, crisp May evening at the Corinthian Yacht Club, that it was all worth it?

Some of us hope so. Those who served with Tony know it was not an easy job he signed on for. It was a tough, tough job with no relief. Whatever Tony was feeling that night remains his secret. But those who know him – some more than others – know that that night and for those 18 years, whatever satisfaction Tony got from working for the Town of Marblehead, whatever success he achieved was hard-earned indeed. In world where so many seem to have wealth and acclaim that they really did not earn, it refreshes the spirit to see a career of service end so well.

Tony Sasso’s place in Marblehead’s history is assured. Hopefully his example will inspire others to perform as selflessly and as professionally … like a true Marbleheader.

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