Breanna Lungo-Koehn launched her campaign for Mayor on Sunday, March 31st. Read her speech below:
I am here today with enthusiasm to announce my candidacy for Mayor of Medford! I love our community and am called to act at a time when our City has very real choices about our future.
As I have weighed this decision, I made many phone calls, had multiple meet and greets, and have heard from neighbors, friends and strangers from across our city to hear what is important to each individual. I have heard a lot about what we should aspire to achieve – how to improve city services, pave way for small businesses, increase employee morale, and improve our schools.
I have heard about HOW we should go about leading: by bringing us together around community and doing so in ways that grow our community’s faith in their local government. What I heard speaks to values that I believe in, and what our community means to me. In listening to your ideas, I believe I can untap the solutions that allow our community to hold on to what is at the heartbeat of every citizen of Medford, and lead the change that makes the future even better.
As many of you know, I was born and raised on South St. in Medford. I attended St. Joseph’s Elementary School where I made life-long friends, some of whom are by my side today.
I graduated from Medford High School in 1998. There I developed many of the passions I have today: a love for Medford athletics such as basketball and cross country, friendships from all parts of our community, and spending time in the many parks throughout the city.
Throughout my life, my parents, Susan and Edward Lungo, encouraged me to work hard, be kind, never give up and to stand up for what I believe in. It is their example and the wonderful people I have been surrounded by throughout my life that shaped the theme of our campaign today: Unity, Community and Integrity.
After graduating from Endicott College in Beverly, MA, I earned my law Degree at Massachusetts School of Law. After working downtown for a few years, we started a law practice in Wellington Circle in 2009. I have had the opportunity to do what I love, where I advocate for clients in some of the most difficult and fragile parts of their lives. For 13 years, I have been able to help my clients through emotionally challenging times, negotiating the best, practical outcome for themselves and their children. These experiences I can call on in the future to navigate difficult waters with an eye towards a practical solution.
At 20 years old, my career in public service started with passing thoughts while studying at Endicott College. As a young and green 21 year old, before iPhones and Facebook, I earned a seat on the City Council 18 years ago in 2001. The goal of my campaign was so that one of the 7 council members would be close to the youth. That passion still resonates today, as many young families talk to me about the challenges that our younger generations face to enjoy the best of this wonderful community.
Another aspect of my first campaign that remains true is my work ethic. That first year, I remember my father and I wearing out multiple pairs of shoes going door-to-door handing out over 45,000 brochures. With my family and friends, I met as many people as I could and talked about how much I loved our City. What I remember most was that people craved for a fresh perspective and new energy to liven up government. Now with experience on my side, I bring that same work ethic to this campaign, and hopefully to City Hall. In talking to people across our city, it is as clear as ever that Medford wants a fresh perspective, and needs the energy to get things done.
In 2007, I married Dave. He is my rock. Dave is a successful businessman, leader in the community, a terrific dad, softball coach and a somewhat decent basketball referee. Like so many of Medford’s parents, he did not grow up in Medford, but he loves what makes Medford special in the same ways I do. Dave and I have three children, Bayley, Kaliway, & Kody.
When I see the Medford that we could leave for them if we fulfill this City’s potential, I feel a responsibility to do WHATEVER I can to lead US as a UNIFIED community to meet the challenges we face.
I would like to talk briefly about my work outside the Council. It is my other community work that I think shapes me most. Last year, we started a Girls on the Run team to teach young girls to be confidant, to work hard, and to pursue a healthy life-style where any goal is possible to reach. As a coach for St. Francis basketball, I have had the opportunity to meet parents, volunteers, and kids from all across Medford. It is in these places that I see what makes Medford great – excited kids with parents who care about them, volunteers that are willing to put endless hours in to help their community, and traditions that highlight the best of Medford for people new and old to the city.
I would like to talk briefly about another rock in my life, my sister, Arianna. She has been by my side every step of this journey. She has taught me about our schools, the teachers, and the students. Arianna is a special education teacher in the Medford Public Schools, and is among the many amazing educators on the front lines to ensure people in Medford, no matter what their situation, have opportunities to thrive and succeed. We owe it to our teachers to ensure our politics grow faith in our schools and educators.
My daughters, Bayley and Kaliway, attend the Roberts Elementary school, while our son Kody, attends Graceworks. They are the wind in my sails, and I want to thank them for the hugs waiting for me at home. They push me to strive to be a better person each and every day. When it comes to the future of this city, the decision to run for Mayor of Medford is for my children, and for all the children and families that live here.
I want to thank my family, Dave, my kids, Arianna, my parents, my team, and my mom tribe for signing up for this journey.
My experience in the community, as a City Councilor, coach, lawyer, volunteer, daughter, sister, wife, and mom fills me with energy and passion. It provides so many ways to see where Medford has untapped energy and potential that we need to grab onto! We need to meet that potential!
Over the coming months, I will be talking about both my record and also more importantly my platform for the future. For today, I want to highlight three victories I am proud of. These serve as examples of the values I care about:
- I would like to go back to one of my first accomplishments as a city councilor that I am proud of. The push to start a Medford High School girl’s hockey team. I believe that those that identify as girls and women deserve every opportunity their counterparts have. What message does it send if a group of strong, young girls want to play hockey but are not allowed on the boys’ team.
These messages matter. And in this case, I am proud of how the parents and I got it done. We persevered, no matter what. We put the hard work in to convince people that we needed to make this right and we did not give up. With a lot of help, we raised money to support the team, and earned approval. These young ladies knew that people in this city cared about equal opportunity. We taught them not to give up. They can now have the benefit of what so many boys and girls learn playing together – team work, persistence, and overcoming challenges. These are the messages that our kids need to learn. This is what I will bring to this job.
- Second, the City Council recently passed a new inclusionary housing policy and increased neighbor notifications requirements when new development is proposed. Whether we like it or not - Medford is changing and developers want to be here. As elected officials, we need to adopt policies that ensure that change does not undercut what makes Medford special, ensures the process is fair, and finds ways for the development to benefit all parts of our community.
I believe we need new development – it increases our tax base to pay for better services, adds jobs and homes, and provides new amenities for us to enjoy, but it needs to be well thought out, transparent, and good for our community as a whole.
I want our squares to be filled with vibrant businesses. I would love to see a brewery in Medford. The way to bring the best development forward is by bringing the stakeholders to the table. The notification of change happening in our neighborhoods is a must. The council made improvements on this with the ordinance changes that we worked on together.
Now, when developers build new housing, a small but meaningful number of those new homes – 15% - will be devoted to people with modest incomes. Medford has blue-collar roots. We are workers and a lot of people here have important jobs that do not pay enough to keep up the with the crazy real estate market we are seeing here. I think our working families and our fixed-income seniors should be able to stay here as Medford changes. The Green Line is coming, and more and more people are discovering how great it is to live and work in Medford.
These issues can be challenging, but as Mayor, I want to dive in, to lay out a comprehensive vision for growth the right way, and to bring people to the table to talk and share both concerns AND solutions. This small policy win is something I am proud of that we made happen at the Council. I envision a City Council and Mayor working together for the betterment of this City.
- Finally, although the surrounding situation is deeply unfortunate, I am proud of the role I played to bring to light the issues around the loaded gun magazine at the McGlynn School. I made sure we acted promptly and were transparent about school safety.
I was compelled to bring this issue, and the inadequate response to the light of day and to push for accountability, and I am proud that my actions led to change. I am passionate about kids, schools and safety. Some people have said that I was too passionate on this issue, but there are few if any issues more important than making sure our kids feel and ARE safe at school. We owe it to the community to be transparent when our department leaders make poor choices.
As I mentioned before, this campaign is about Unity, Community and Integrity.
I want to speak briefly about Unity. Those who know me outside of my role as a city Councilor see me as a positive, funny, energetic person. My role on the Council has often been the checks and balances - to speak up to make sure our policies are thought through, our constituents have a voice at the table, and the way we govern is transparent and accountable.
This role is no longer enough for me, or the city. In a new role of Chief Executive of the City, it will be a top priority of mine to bring us together. We have so many small pockets of dedicated people in our City, but many more are checked out because of the division that exists in our politics. I know I have contributed to this at times when a city process was broken and there was no other way to bring light to a topic. That has to change. That will change. The sum of our parts is powerful if we have a leader who brings people to the table, who actively listens, who is transparent and who is willing to say what she thinks but also admits when she is wrong.
I will not always agree with all of you on every issue, but I pledge to keep an open mind and an open door, to be present in discussing our most difficult challenges, to share both my positions and my rationale, to learn from my mistakes, which I will make, and to show respect to our entire community. Not only to those who live here, but to those who work here too, like our public safety professionals and our teachers. That is Unity, and it is how we move Medford forward.
When it comes to Community, I think about the people and the places that bring us TOGETHER. Our parks, squares and neighborhoods are where people come to feel a part of something special – a group of people who share a love for this place. It is special quirks and what it means to our families. It is the little things like a ‘Barry Called’ bumper sticker, or the shared stories about kids learning to ride bikes at Duggar park. It is our local restaurants like Carrolls, our coffee shops, and ice cream stores like Colleen’s and CB Scoops.
We have a lot to build on. But today, our squares need not just plans BUT leadership AND action, not reaction, to make it possible for businesses to thrive and neighborhoods to enjoy the benefits.
We need to invest in enough experienced community and economic development staff within local govt to stay ahead of the pace of change and provide real solutions that engage neighborhoods in the type of growth we want and the commercial revenue we need to improve services.
And despite some good intentions, the new CPA resources, and a hardworking Department of public works, our parks, streets and sidewalks need more attention. We need to focus on improving basic city services and maintenance with more funding and accountability.
We need the passion we see for small businesses, for vibrant squares, for great parks, and for what makes Medford unique to be the core of a vision that shapes growth in the right way – in places that bring people together. With a commitment to bringing people together, to be willing to listen to all ideas and to make a decision – even a tough one, we can ensure our community grows the right way and our SENSE of community remains.
Lastly, I want to talk about Integrity. This is simple: I pledge to work hard regardless of the challenge, to be transparent in whatever decisions we make, to let you know where I stand, to visit with every area of Medford, and to keep what is best for the entire community as the one and only criteria for each decision I make.
Across our country, to many elected officials are interested in calculating the decisions they need to make to raise money and stay in office forever. That is not me, and in any vote I have taken, good or bad in your opinion, I have always done what I think is best for Medford – for our families, kids, employees, our disabled residents, our veteran and our senior citizens. Often times, I have stuck up for the voice that was stifled or against a process that was broken. I have given the fire fighters the respect they deserve. I listen and act on what is best for all. Thank You for joining me on this endeavor. I am thrilled to be your candidate for Mayor of Medford.
I want this job because I KNOW I can bring positive change to our community through transparency and integrity. I am also committing to pushing for Charter review and Mayoral term limits as a way to make sure fresh perspective comes to the chief executive office down the road regardless of how successful I am as a politician.
As I mentioned, we are going to spend time in every corner of the City discussing our plans and talking about Unity, Community and Integrity over the coming seven months and hopefully a lot longer. Please visit our website and learn more. The address is: Breanna4mayor.com
There is a real choice in this election. We ARE going to run a positive, exciting campaign that taps into the energy that exists in our City. Thank you for your support. With your help, we can bring the change we want to see to our beloved community. I look forward to getting to work!
I will end with a Quote from the greatest showman for the children here today:
Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what Medford could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s going to take