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Exit interview: City Councilman Frank Matarrese

Submitted by on 1, December 21, 2010 – 12:02 amNo Comment

Frank Matarrese joined Alameda’s City Council in 2002, making the jump from the Planning Board after taking second place in an eight-way race for two seats. Over the eight years he served, Matarrese emerged as a champion of the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex development and a watchdog for toxic cleanup efforts at Alameda Point. The 55-year-old businessman also prevailed on his dais-mates to pass a symbolic resolution asking the federal government to withdraw troops from Iraq and again a few years later to create a fiscal sustainability committee intended to ensure Alameda stays on a solid financial track.

But Matarrese faced challenges, too, including the failure of Alameda Municipal Power’s telecommunications business and charges for one of his three sons, who received probation and a fine for making a death threat to a detractor. He also struggled with efforts to redevelop Alameda Point, throwing his support toward SunCal’s mixed-use plan for the Point and then withdrawing that support as economic conditions changed (Matarrese later advocated for a more jobs-heavy plan, with development efforts to be spearheaded by a nonprofit, city-run corporation).

Off the dais now for the first time in more than a decade, Matarrese agreed to answer some questions posed by The Island.

What led you to run for public office?
I’ve always been interested in government. In 2002 circumstances and opportunity just happened to be right and I won a seat.

What’s the first major lesson you learned as a public official?
Being on the City Council is not as easy at it looks.

What was your proudest accomplishment on the council?
Being part of getting the new library built.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Dealing with the (Navy) base and SunCal. I don’t think the magnitude and impacts of the project and the money involved are fully appreciated.

Is there anything you wish you had more time to accomplish?
I wish I could have driven my jobs first plan for base reuse and completed initiatives I put out there in my Council referrals. I had some ideas that I would have liked to had been able to implement to keep the city solvent.

What’s next for you?
I’m going to enjoy the free time, rebuild my business and travel.

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