By Cary Shuman
Taso Nikolakopoulos has been one of Lynn’s most visible and involved citizens through his work in the community, ownership of a popular business, John’s Roast Beef on Western Avenue, chairman of the Off-Street Parking Commission and his leadership roles in the Lynn Area Chamber of Chamber of Commerce.
Today Nikolakopoulos begins his entry in to a new arena: elective politics. The handsome lifelong Lynn resident has announced that he will be a candidate for councillor-at-large in the municipal election this fall.
“I’m running for many reasons, but to summarize, I want us to adopt better business practices and I want us to be competitive in the regional economy. We need to remove some barriers to be competitive and have that edge.”
Nikolakopoulos brings an impressive record of accomplishment in to the race for one of the four councillor-at-large positions. He was the chairman of the LACC during a period of much growth in the business organization, working closely with president and CEO Leslie Gould to build membership and implement new programs such as the International Committee, the Young Professionals Committee, and the Work Force Development Committee.
He credited his predecessors as chairman, Ralph Sevinor and David Solimine Jr., for setting the foundation to LACC’s growth. “We also have a great board and great leadership at the LACC,” he said.
Nikolakopoulos has owned and operated John’s Roast Beef for the past 14 years. He has employed many Lynn high school at the popular establishment. The John’s Roast Beef awards dinner program, in conjunction with local sports broadcaster John Hoffman, has become a noteworthy happening alongside such traditional events as the Item Football Banquet and Harry Agganis Week.
“It’s been a good, family grounded business,” he said proudly.
Nikolakopoulos was born in Athens, Greece and came to the city at the age of four. He began his education in the Greek bilingual program at the Washington Community School. He attended Sacred Heart School and St. Mary’s (Class of 1998), where he played varsity soccer and football. He graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Vermont with a degree in political science and history. Nikolakopoulos held an internship in then-state representative Chip Clancy’s office. He became the senior research analyst for the House Committee on Transportation and in that position he oversaw legislation for the Mass. Highway Department, Central Artery, and the transportation bond.
He took a position with Sverdrup Civil Inc., a civil engineering firm where he was the public involvement coordinator. Upon his parents George and Maria Nikolakopoulos’s retirement as owners of John’s Roast Beef, he purchased the business.
Nikolakopoulos said he has “a good working relationship” with the current members of the Lynn City Council and the state delegation. “I have also a great relationship with the mayor [Judith Flanagan Kennedy] as well. We collaborated together with the Chamber of Commerce to work on the zoning of downtown Lynn. So I look at economic development as another collaborative area that we can work on. I want us to generate revenue in the city. In every possible area that we can generate revenue, we can maximize growth. Most importantly, I want us to be a self-sustaining city, less reliant on the state and federal government.”
Nikolakopoulos has assembled a campaign staff to assist in his election effort. “I have an unbelievable group helping me,” he said.
Attorney-at-law A.J. Capano, son of prominent local attorney Mario Capano and School Committee member Patricia Capano, is the campaign manager. Capano is a graduate of Providence College and New England School of Law. Former Lynn Classical star athlete Alex Watler, a graduate of Harvard University, is the campaign strategist. Brian Castellanos, a graduate of Framingham State University and a college administrator, is the public involement coordinator and field coordinator. Mikki Wilson, a graduate of Lynn Tech and North Shore Community College and currently a student at Salem State, is the policy director. Brandon Freedman, a graduate of Florida Southern College who holds an MBA degree from Endicott College, is the campaign’s marketing director.
The candidate’s campaign Web site, VoteTaso.com debuts today. Nikolakopoulos and his wife, Linda, a registered dietician, have two children, Mia, a junior at St. Mary’s High School, and George, an eighth grader.