We've started to take some concrete steps to plan the upcoming Mayoral transition and I wanted to share a few thoughts.
First, we've created a new email address to field any recommendations we should consider as part of the transition: Medfordtransition2019@gmail.com. Please share any suggestions or recommendations here.
Second, we've created a poll to seek additional feedback on priorities. We would appreciate it if you spend 3 minutes completing this brief survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Medford2019Transition Feel free to share this publicly with any Medford resident or business owner.
Third, we've started to assemble a transition committee. In addition to general recommendations, the committee will focus on i) schools, ii) parking and city services and iii) planning, growth and development. The committee will also include a subcommittee who will plan a day of service during the first week of January in addition to the inaugural event itself. The goals of the transition committee will be to i) create avenues for Medford residents to offer additional feedback on priorities, ii) combine that public feedback with their own diverse experience and create recommendations for me to consider when I take office on January 6th, and iii) begin the work of unifying Medford by offering a variety of perspectives a voice at the table. More to come on that in about a week.
Thank you for the kind notes and offers of support. The past week has been a humbling experience and I am so grateful to all of you for your encouragement.
All the best,
A big thank you to the West Medford Community Center (WMCC) for inviting me to be a part of their "First Fridays: Words + Music" as part of the "Women of Substance" event, on November 2nd. Mr. Carter and I had a great interview and conversation followed by the beautiful music of “The Dencity Soul Cypher.”
"No doubt this opinion piece may generate strong feelings so please note that this is all about transparency in Medford’s government. I happen to believe we need a change and discuss why below. You may feel what’s in place today is sufficient, or that it’s not a signature issue for you, and I respect that. That said, this is written in the spirit of my frustration with what I perceive to be a problem with transparency that other voters might agree with, or not.
The year is 2019, and the 2020 presidential race dominates the headlines. Here in Medford, another important campaign asks voters the question: to change, or to remain stagnant?
Competing to be mayor of the city of Medford, our candidates are two accomplished women, similar in many regards. Both are lifelong Medford residents, and both have professional careers outside the realm of politics. Both candidates are Democrats with substantive credentials. Yet, there are differences too. One is backed by the political establishment with a hefty campaign chest; the other is running a grassroots campaign held together by limited resources and lots of shoe leather. The contest pits an established insider against an outsider. The race may just show the voter’s disposition in a Commonwealth that has both enormous prosperities, and a host of challenges.
Some may question why this should matter to Medford residents. I am a Medford resident, and have been for a long time. I was born in Medford and went through the Medford Public Schools before leaving for college. I returned as an adult, raised three children here, and have resided in Medford once more since 2003. In that time, Mike McGlynn was the mayor for 28 years. It was generally assumed that McGlynn would always be the mayor until he chose to step down — and that the next mayor would be handpicked by him. That turned out to be true with the rise of Stephanie Muccini Burke from City Council to the mayor’s budget director to her current fourth year as mayor.
Mayor Burke was endorsed by McGlynn, and like him, is the ultimate insider. Some city employees — many of whom are also McGlynn fans — have expressed discomfort with what seems to be McGlynn’s outsize influence upon City Hall. The ex-mayor is a frequent visitor to Medford City Hall — particularly during this election period — and, perhaps, the timing of such visits isn’t the arm’s length I’d like to see. This should not infer McGlynn is doing anything wrong, but appearances during an election period should matter.
Let’s be clear: Many of Ms. Burke’s policy positions are progressive yet her style of execution is strictly old school. For example, her extensive support of luxury apartment developments can be seen clearly in works such as the 500-unit Locust Street project. The Locust Street project’s construction proceeded only after receiving no less than 11 variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Furthermore, not only did the City Council unanimously stand against the project, but the Zoning Board’s members were forced to resign following the Attorney General citing an Open Meeting Law violation regarding the hearing.
What’s concerning to me is this consistent pattern of using the Zoning Board of Appeals to ram through projects, rather than ensuring developers always follow the established process. It’s easy to see how this has seemingly resulted in a series of both haphazard and unplanned residential buildings across the city, which in turn has increased traffic and congestion in many of our already-crowded areas. Additionally, more transparency about the beneficial ownership of some potentially-fast tracked development projects is needed, particularly along a mile-long stretch of Mystic Avenue.
The challenger, Breanna Lungo-Koehn — a local attorney and city councilor — can cite only a few instances where she and Ms. Burke, at least when they both served on the City Council, disagreed with each other. Unfortunately, things change. As Burke moved to administration — first as budget director, and later as mayor — the two have repeatedly clashed. Unsurprisingly, this is most often about transparency issues. Lungo-Koehn has written about a continued lack of transparency and decisions made behind closed doors. To be fair, Ms. Burke has rebutted those allegations, albeit defensively. Lungo-Koehn has made it clear in her mayoral run that she does not believe in these types of old school politics, and if elected, intends to ensure a more open government with increased transparency. Again, voters must make their own judgments about whether Burke meets their standard for open government, or not.
What may be the starkest example of their different approaches came in January of 2017 — an incident I witnessed up close at several School Committee meetings. A loaded gun magazine was found in an elementary school auditorium. The incident — despite a backdrop of myriad school shootings and parental concerns — was not disclosed to the public, nor to the parents of the school children. When the matter did, eventually, come to light, the Burke administration attempted to downplay the issue.
Lungo-Koehn publicly took the mayor to task over her failure to alert the community at large, as well as failing to give a proper explanation for the matter — which, unfortunately, allowed unfounded rumors to frighten residents needlessly, me among them. This was a difficult and confusing time for all, and, bowing to public pressure, Mayor Burke hired a political ally to conduct an investigation. An investigation that quickly swept matters under the rug. What really stunned parents was the glaring lack of empathy displayed by City Hall. I, and others, felt we were being told “to get over our concerns for the children.” This all could have been avoided had city government dealt transparently with this significant issue.
To many, this was classic Medford politics: downplay problems, withhold answers, and protect city leaders from any and all accountability. With our last mayor holding office for almost three decades — and a school superintendent serving for almost 25 years — political power in Medford is clearly not accustomed to being shared or questioned. When political power is then “transferred” to a proxy for the previous administration — well, that’s what this piece is about. This is not to downplay Ms. Burke’s accomplishments; rather it’s to be clear that more sunshine is needed in Medford’s government — no matter who the mayor is.
Councilor Lungo-Koehn and her campaign are challenging that way of doing things. Both an advocate for term limits and a populist at heart, she’s pushing the community to step forward with solutions, as well as engaging the residents herself in discussions regarding local issues. She believes that backroom dealing in City Hall must stop and is attempting to convince voters another way is possible. Thus, with two candidates on the ballot whose resumes are similar in public life, the real issues here are these: transparency and accountability.
It is a simple question for Medford voters: Do we want open and accessible discussions of public policy and a voice at the table? Or will we forgo that for the comfort of someone else making the hard decisions — albeit behind closed doors with a record of questionable transparency? Alternatively, it’s about whether one votes for the classic political insider, or whether they choose a new voice running a grassroots political race — and hoping that voters will embrace a change. The outcome of this race looks to be the canary in the gold mine for next year’s national races, and for that reason and many more, is a race worth paying attention to on Election Day."
The influence of money on politics is a huge challenge for our country. Unfortunately, our campaign was forced to fund raise to have the resources to share our message for change. We did so through a few events shared with the public and purposely avoided out-of-towners with business before the City.
Sticking with the theme of transparency, we wanted to release our campaign fundraising details to the public to illustrate the grassroots nature of our campaign for Breanna to become your next mayor of Medford. We raised $75,599 in 2019, 89% of donations from Medford residents. Over $9,000 in donations were small dollar amounts less than $50. The details are here: https://www.ocpf.us/Reports/DisplayReport…Read more
Thank you for the kind letter you submitted to the Transcript Valerie. I am lucky to have your support!
"This November 5th we have the chance to elect a new Mayor for the City of Medford. I want to share why I am supporting Breanna Lungo-Koehn for Mayor and why it is so important for the future of Medford that we have Breanna’s leadership as Mayor. Throughout her years serving as a Medford City Councilor, I have known Breanna to be extremely responsive, compassionate, intelligent, and accessible.
By Jean Nuzzo
"On Tuesday, Nov 5th the choice for mayor is clear.
Medford needs Breanna Lungo-Koehn. We need her honest, sincere and direct approach to governing.
Over the past four years, Breanna and I have worked side by side, sharing ideas, discussing solutions and implementing resolutions. With teamwork and determination, we have fought against irresponsible and predatory development in favor of preservation and purposeful growth.
Working with Breanna, I have come to know that she will bring transparency, collaboration, and integrity to city hall.
Please join me in voting for Breanna4Mayor."
At the Mayoral Forum at City Hall on Thursday, October 17th, I said "As to parking enforcement, it is broken. If elected I will end the contract which expires in the next mayoral term. I will bring enforcement in house and replace the kiosks with meters. I will provide our seniors with free parking."
The Mayor announced today that the city will allow free parking to seniors and people with disabilities. Thank you to the Mayor for taking my idea and running with it. Everyone benefits.Read more
About a week ago I asked a few supporters if they would come take a picture with me. It was raining so I wasn’t expecting much, but was brought to tears when I turned the corner to see so many lovely ladies. Mothers and grandmothers who want better for Medford.
It’s a testament that Medford needs new ideas and vision.
18 days until Nov. 5th. Please put 15 minutes in your calendar to exercise your right!
Thank you! https://youtu.be/I59wIrNCoXk
The Medford City Council passed a home rule charter petition Sept. 5 that, if passed by the Massachusetts state legislature, would ensure that Tufts and other nonprofits provide the city with institutional master plans.
The home rule petition was filed in the Massachusetts state legislature the same day by State Rep. Christine Barber.
Under a Massachusetts law, cities cannot require nonprofits, such as educational institutions, hospitals and religious institutions, to provide an institutional master plan. The same law limits the zoning power cities hold over such institutions.Read more
An Editorial by Breanna Lungo-Koehn, City Councilor and Candidate for Mayor
Ask five residents how to report a problem to local government and you’re likely to get five answers. The tool being used by City Hall is See-Click-Fix, an online reporting tool for residents to report a host of issues, from potholes to lost pets. We have found that his well-intended response lacks a variety of things necessary to meet Medford’s needs. The tool is unknown, its approach is inconsistently adopted within our government, and the core benefits of the tool, accountability and transparency, have not been embraced.Read more
It has been almost one week since I learned from Fox 25 news that there was wrongdoing by members of the Medford Police Department.
Many residents have been asking me what is going on and I wanted to let the public know that details have still not been disclosed and I still have more questions than answers. How were these violations discovered? What management controls are in place to confirm hours worked? What has the department learned and changed as a result? Why wasn’t the public told after the Mayor knew for months?Read more
Before we reach October, I would like to bring awareness to the fact that September is national recovery month. With the MA Department of Public Health reporting an average of more than 500 Medford substance abuse admissions each year, we all know people who have struggled with addiction. (https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/03/13/cities.pdf)
I recently became aware of what appears to be a coordinated attempt to paint me as a Republican and a conservative, and I wanted to weigh in on what I am reading. It is my nature to engage, and in spite of trying to stay focused on our priorities and plan, I thought it was worth a few minutes to share some thoughts.
Although local elections are nonpartisan, I'm a registered Democrat. I appreciate politicians who seem willing to find common ground. I think ideas are more powerful than the political party of the folks who share them. I think part of what's wrong with our national politics is that too many politicians have forgotten this simple bit of common sense.Read more
We set a goal to canvas the city before Labor Day. Thanks to our amazing team and my family we were able to accomplish that goal! 20,000 brochures were hand folded and delivered!
It takes a village and I am so thankful for mine.
#breanna4mayor #unitycommunityintegrity #medfordma
While the Green Line Extension (GLX) will bring greater accessibility to downtown Boston, we also need to think strategically as a community on the impact that it will have on our streets and on our residents’ ability to park. South Medford and the Hillside neighborhoods in particular are anticipated to have the greatest impact on both traffic and parking. One solution that residents, as well as the city council have been discussing and advocating for over the past several years, is implementing an area-wide resident permit parking policy with strict and consistent enforcement and the ability for streets to opt out.
In 2017, the city’s “Linkage Committee” spent $20,000 to be used to perform a study of area-wide residential permit parking. After that vote, three public meetings were held in February, April and June of 2017. Unfortunately, the momentum created at those meetings fell flat as no new policies have been implemented to date and parking enforcement in South Medford and the Hillside neighborhoods - where 80-90% is currently restricted to permit parking only - is not working. Specifically, residents have complained about cars parked longer than 48 hours with a visitor pass in the window or an abundant use of expired parking passes. Simple changes such as incorporating the address of the person who the visitor pass is issued to and annual color changes must be implemented to make enforcement more efficient.
Mayor Burke’s decision to withdraw her proposed Mystic Ave zoning changes last night is a welcome step to ensure our neighborhoods are engaged in their future and more haphazard luxury apartment developments don’t crowd out thoughtful opportunities to see Medford grow.
The abrupt change of direction from Mayor Burke indicates what we already know - the current administration lacks vision and lacks any plan for Medford’s future development or sufficient capacity to execute positive change.
As frustrating as this has been, I am uplifted by the energy and engagement we have seen from our community members who have demanded a better process. The withdrawal of the proposed changes would not have happened without the communities involvement.
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste and I look forward to working with my fellow councilors, the zoning consultant we are hiring and our neighborhoods and businesses to bring about much needed planning and zoning changes done the right way.