FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, [email protected], (781) 724-1157.
MEDFORD: On April 15, Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn announced her campaign for re-election, talking to supporters via Zoom during a social-distanced event. Joining Mayor Lungo-Koehn this evening to deliver supporting remarks were:
- Vittorio Ettore, chef/owner of Bistro 5 restaurant in West Medford Square, a business that was assisted by the Lungo-Koehn Administration’s COVID-19 business resilience efforts;
Henry Milorin, community activist and leader, who spoke about Mayor Lungo-Koehn’s record of accomplishments since coming into office; and
- Jen Conti, parent, teacher, and youth athletic leader who spoke about Mayor Lungo-Koehn’s efforts to get Medford public school students safely back to class during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lungo-Koehn, who came into office on January 5, 2020, delivered remarks that focused on her record of accomplishment and plans for the future. Mayor Lungo-Koehn also spoke about the City’s pandemic response including business resilience efforts, community outreach and food security efforts, safe schools reopening strategy, housing stability, vaccinations for Medford’s most at-risk populations, and more.
Lungo-Koehn is serving her first term as Mayor of Medford.
Below are Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn’s remarks as prepared for delivery
at the event last evening:
A little over two years ago, I stood with family and friends in Medford Square to announce that after almost 18 years on the Medford City Council, I was running to be Mayor of Medford. A few months later, I stood on the stage at the Chevalier Theatre to take the oath of office. Just ten short weeks into my administration, Medford - and the world were facing a global pandemic.
Almost immediately, my hopes and plans for what governing would be like drastically changed, but some things remained the same. I expected to work hard, lead by example, and listen. Especially at a time when all residents needed this most.
I didn’t want this job because I thought it would be easy. I wanted it because I thought we could do better. And I want to continue what we have started because there is important work that remains. There is also hope that soon life will look more like normal times and I will quite possibly be able to do the job how I initially expected, with more community events, programming and fun - all mixed in with continuing to implement the plans and policies we have already set into motion.
I always believed that Medford’s best days are ahead of us, because of the people of our community and the common ideals that bind us together: making Medford everything it can be, and everything it deserves to be. These last 15 months have been some of the hardest but most rewarding of my life. I am proud and excited every single day to be able to serve the city I love, to work for and with residents and business owners who I have lived and worked with my entire life, and to have some of the most dedicated staff and friends you will ever find.
Some of the things we have been able to accomplish would not be possible without our dedicated staff and volunteers. That is why you will hear me using the word “WE” a lot.
So today, I am proud to announce that I am a candidate for re-election for Mayor of the City of Medford.
Since coming into office last January, we have made incredible progress toward many of the goals and plans I laid out - with the community - during my first campaign for Mayor. We increased transparency across City government - hiring our first dedicated communications director to make sure information gets to those that need it; we reworked the entire budget process and presentation, making the most open city budget in history - and we were awarded Medford’s first ever distinguished budget award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association because of it; We reworked and relaunched the City’s SeeClickFix system to better serve the needs of residents and to be more responsive to requests and concerns; we created the Welcoming Committee who are developing a welcoming guide for Medford’s newest residents and businesses. We worked with Medford Community Media to make sure as many meetings as possible are recorded and broadcasted and we saw a 300% increase in the number of community meetings aired on MCM between 2019 and 2020.
Over the last year we made significant progress on a number of major planning initiatives. In 2021 we have already begun to share some of these plans and reports, and have gotten to work on major citywide initiatives.
Beginning in January 2020 we worked to develop the city's first ever capital improvement plan. We released the plan in February of this year, and it will be a living document that will guide our decisions on infrastructure and investment planning through 2026 and beyond. Some of the projects included in the plan are already under way. One of our short term goals is to hire a facilities maintenance director for both building and grounds, so we can work on the much needed maintenance issues in our buildings and finally start doing preventative routine maintenance that has barely been done to date.
The Capital Improvement Plan also calls for a $50M investment to the high school. I believe a robust renovation plan is right for our students and teachers and provides the quickest path to meaningful improvement while taking into account fiscally responsibility. Under this plan, Medford could see meaningful new improvements by 2024. We can't afford to wait to bring better conditions to the high school, we need to ensure the investments we make here also allow continuing investment in other priorities for education. We will continue advocating the state to support Medford in getting the high school our students, teachers and families deserve and I know we can earn that support if we do it together, with urgency.
In addition to the Capital Plan, we are almost ready to release a draft street and sidewalk assessment to guide us on the much needed street and sidewalk repairs throughout the City. We will be able to identify which areas are in dire condition and strategically make improvements while being transparent along the way.
We added the city’s first economic development director to work with residents, existing businesses, and prospective developers that can add responsible growth to Medford; just this past December, we negotiated to bring forty million dollars in development growth to the Whole Foods Bakery facility that will pay dividends for decades.
This year we also launched a Comprehensive Master Planning process. In March we hired a consultant - a local, female-led firm - and we are currently actively working to create a diverse steering committee that will help us make sure we have feedback from all residents and create a vision for the entire city.
In the meantime, we are already making critical investments in many areas to make sure all our parks, open spaces, and roadways are safe and accessible for all.
We have been creative in finding funding to make improvements to many of our parks. We leveraged both CPA and CDBG funds to begin Phase one of parks and recreation improvements. Some of the improvements you will see soon include 5 new tennis courts at Duggar Park, a new Basketball court at Playstead park, playground re-surfacing at Tufts Capen and Cummings, a new pool deck at Tufts pool with handicap accessible tables at both the pool and pond. We also secured funding for a re-design of Gillis Park and Carr Park. Just to name a few.
I hope to continue this work next year and plan for phase 2 for other much needed work, such as Laconte rink, Hormel stadium, potential satellite dog parks, Capen park, Barry Park and more.
Medford's parks are a huge part of what makes us special. Just this year, we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in previously unspent CDBG funds to update parks and pool in my first term. But going forward, we need a better plan to maintain and manage them. For that reason, I will propose in the upcoming budget to refocus the Recreation Department to include the management of our parks, fields, rink, and stadium and to work across the administration to give Medford the open space that it deserves and that will best serve the needs of the community.
I look forward to having this important conversation with the Council on how we protect these parks investments in the most efficient and effective way.
We have made improvements to our roads in the interest of safety for all users. In just the last 12 months we have received 5 grants from MassDOT to implement Shared Streets programs like implementing new Safe Routes to Schools, adding two new bus shelters in Medford Square and Haines Square, a dedicated bus lane pilot on Mystic Ave., and a new dedicated bike lane on Route 28. And, we were able to work with MassDOT to successfully implement traffic improvements at the South and Main Street intersection just this week.
After several months of intensive analysis, two of our new task forces delivered recommendations last month that we will be acting on over the next year.
The Task Force on Fire Department Facilities met for 6 months and provided a report of all the work that is needed at each of our stations. I stayed up to date on their work and urgently began obtaining quotes, hired an operations project manager and are actively working on windows, doors, roofs, and other important short-term needs. My goal is to update all of our stations and do a design feasibility study for our headquarters as soon as possible.
The Task Force on Parking Policy & Enforcement also worked tirelessly, and provided a detailed 58 page report with ideas, suggestions and facts as they relate to bringing parking enforcement in house. This would allow parking enforcement to be done under the City’s direction, with the entire revenue stream coming into the city and the ability to be more strategic and flexible in our approach. We have a lot of work to do over the next 9 months to make this a reality and protect those who live near the Green line which is anticipated to open in December 2021. I am up for this challenge and hope I have the opportunity to execute a better way to manage parking.
Lastly, the most important work we have done in this last year has been doing the hard work to keep people safe and healthy, and to get our children and teachers back in the classroom safely.
We spent over 4.5 million dollars to get our students and staff back in the classroom safely and it was worth every cent. Medford was the first district in the state to begin testing staff in September and our students in November thanks to the collaboration between city and schools and our partners at Tufts University. We worked to review systems, install HEPA filters and repair HVAC systems. We made sure enough PPE was ordered, school spaces redesigned and sanitizing stations installed so we could open back up as soon as possible with strict safety protocols in place. And we made sure all students had the ability to work remotely as needed by providing one-to-one Chromebooks for the first time, and by adding hostpots to needed locations to improve WiFi access. Medford has been a leader in the state for getting students back to school, and for providing testing to help us track and plan for any COVID-19 cases within the district. In fact, many other districts have looked to Medford directly as a model for how to implement these plans in their cities and towns.
Throughout the pandemic, our staff, volunteers, and partner organizations have done an incredible amount of work to keep our community safe, and to provide necessary resources to those in need. Some of that work includes:
- Contact tracing
- Our RU OK program
- Setting up Vaccine clinics
- Our Food insecurity / access work
- Setting up a first ever Multilingual Language resource Line
- Funding for those facing eviction
- Regional collaborations
- And we were first in the state to vaccinate homebound residents
The Chamber of Commerce and our office set up a COVID relief fund to purchase gift cards to help local restaurants and provide those gift cards to people in need. We raised over $20k and those funds are still being put to good use.
To support our businesses we also established:
- A Business resilience grant program giving out over $700k
- Outdoor dining with 22 applications for this upcoming season!
- We allowed businesses to use our open spaces
There is so much more to say, but I know we all want to get to cooking so I will conclude with this:
Some of the choices I faced during the early days of COVID - when there were still far more questions than answers - were among the toughest and hardest I have ever had to make. But I knew that no matter what we faced, the people of this city would meet it with grace and resolve.
And they did.
I am never more proud to be Mayor than when I see the micro food pantries we installed get filled or when I saw the look in the faces of the residents who received their vaccine at one of the City’s clinics. I have always had pride in our city, but that pride runs deeper than ever.
I wake up every morning inspired by this City, and show up every day to make it better. I want to see through improvements to change the way we police, how we provide services, how we understand each other, and as we work to restore trust in the government we share.
With all we have accomplished so far, so much important work remains: leading Medford through the next stages of the pandemic and returning to life stronger than before; completing our community-driven planning and visioning efforts to continue building growth; implementing our capital plan; building parking policies and enforcement in a fair and transparent way that acknowledges the distinct needs of our individual neighborhoods and business districts; and continuing to work to give ALL people the government they deserve.
I can only ask for the honor of continuing our shared, unfinished business in the years ahead and am grateful for your support. Thank you.