Ward 1 Alderman William Roche, who served on the Somerville Board of Aldermen for nearly 17 years, voluntarily resigned from the Board Thursday night.
"After 17 years as the Ward 1 alderman, I still thoroughly enjoy the job," Roche said. "However, I have found that due to conflicting personal, social and family priorities I am no longer able to dedicate the time required to effectively and succesfully do the job."
Board of Aldermen President Thomas Taylor, who represents Ward 3, said Roche informed him of his decision to resign the previous week.
Speaking about his decision, Roche said that when he first joined the Board 17 years ago, he and his wife "were on the threshold of becoming empty nesters." Now, he has six grandchildren, two more on the way, and a father who will soon turn 88. "I am now making decisions between attending a family event such as a sports youth game or school or extracurricular activity event, spending more time with my father, or attending an alderman-related meeting. These are decisions I do not want to make."
In addition to serving on the Board for 17 years, Roche served as acting mayor of the city in 1999, "an experience I will never forget," Roche said.
School Committee Member Maureen Bastardi Appointed as Replacement
After Roche resigned, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to appoint Maureen Bastardi, who represented Ward 1 on the Somerville School Committee, as his replacement. Bastardi was sworn in Thursday night after formally resigning from the School Committee.
"I'm looking forward to serving with you," Bastardi told the Board, thanking them for putting their confidence in her.
"It's a really exciting time for Ward 1. There's a lot going on. [It's] an up and coming place," she said.
Bastardi will serve out the remainder of Roche's two-year term and will face an election in the fall of 2013, should she chose to run.
Paul Bockelman, chair of the School Committee, said after the meeting the School Committee would seek nominations for Bastardi's replacement.
Roche looks back at tenure
"In addition to developing great relationships we actually accomplished some quality of life success stories during [the past 17 years]," Roche said.
He listed the 1997 passage of an ethics ordinance that he called "the toughest in the state," a living wage ordinance he signed while serving as acting mayor, a 2004 anti-gang ordinance, and the the approval, in an "historic vote," of a $25 million bond to jump start development in Assembly Square.
Colleagues express sadness
Other members of the Board of Aldermen expressed sadness that Roche was stepping down.
"There's a sense of loss," said Alderman At-Large William White. "I want to thank him for all the work he's done for Ward 1."
Ward 7 Alderman Robert Trane said he understood the demands of the job, saying, "It wears on you after a while."
Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston called Roche a "voice of reason" on the Board, Alderman At-Large John Connolly said, "He's left a great legacy for the people of Ward 1," and Alderman At-Large Dennis Sullivan said, "I got to learn first hand what public service is about" from Roche.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said "Bill Roche has been a great colleage and friend" who represented Ward 1 "with class and dignity."
Eugene Brune, former mayor of Somerville, said Roche "has been an outstanding alderman" who has "done so much for [Ward 1.]