“Make no mistake; as I carry forward during my final term, I am all in.”
At the top of his biannual midterm address to city leaders and constituents on Monday afternoon, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone of Somerville announced that he will not seek reelection.
“Make no mistake; as I carry forward during my final term, I am all in, Somerville,” Curtatone said. “I will be hard at work for you until my last day on the job.”
Curtatone, who was born and raised in Somerville, was first inaugurated in 2004 and has served eight terms, making him the longest-serving mayor in Somerville history. In an interview with the Boston Globe that was released this afternoon, Curtatone did not rule out the possibility of running for higher office, but emphasized that his decision was based on a desire to avoid complacency in the role.
The speech, which was rescheduled from an initial date of February 3, live-streamed on Somerville GovTV and Somerville CityTV’s website and Youtube channel and lasted just over 30 minutes. After the newsworthy personal announcement, the mayor launched into a judicious summary of the city’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted his commitment to racial justice, climate and transportation goals, small businesses and equitable growth, and addressing the housing crisis.
Curtatone has often been a vocal critic of state officials’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, he lambasted the Governor’s decision to reopen Massachusetts classrooms statewide by April on Twitter, calling it “another surprise announcement without any consultation from school districts and municipalities.” He has also resisted adopting the statewide increase in business capacity limits from 25% to 40% for Somerville after Governor Charlie Baker announced the change on February 5th. In his address, Curtatone alluded to his frustration with statewide vaccine rollout plans.
“We find ourselves having to battle the state to make sure vaccines are truly accessible to everyone,” he said.
The mayor avoided implicating the state while addressing the imminent reopening of Massachusetts public schools. He reported that the newly rebuilt Somerville High School building is ready for use and will be part of the reopening plan.
Other announcements included a number of planned municipal hires that will be tasked with bringing a racial justice lens to the city’s policy-making moving forward: a racial and social justice director on the mayor’s core policy team, “equity specialists” for every school in the Somerville system, and an equity-focused position in the Office of Strategic Planning.
In the realm of climate justice, the mayor stated that the city is on track to meet a number of goals outlined in its Climate Forward plan, mentioning that more than 50% of the energy in Somerville homes is projected to come from clean sources by the end of the decade.
“One city like Somerville cannot mitigate climate change or structural racism alone, but that shouldn’t stop us from setting ambitious goals and demanding the state and federal government step up and do their part,” he said.
Affirming the MBTA’s announcement in December, Curtatone also proclaimed that the Green Line extension is on track to open for use later in 2021, though he did not specify a date.
“We are counting down months instead of years to when these trains start running,” he said. “Soon enough, we’re going to have a new nervous system running through the center of our city.” The extension, which will eventually reach College Avenue in Medford, first broke ground in 2012 and experienced a number of setbacks before construction began in earnest in 2018.
Curtatone ended his speech by thanking the city employees he’s worked with during this turbulent past year and, ostensibly, for the past seventeen as well.
“You’ve been the beacon of dependability in a sea of chaos,” he said, “the very best example of what it means to be public servants.”
You can read the transcript of the mayor’s address here.
Amelia Roth-Dishy is a student and freelance reporter based in Boston. She is currently an editor for the Arts section of the Harvard Crimson, where she covers music and pop culture. She has also written for the West Side Rag and for the Crimson's Fifteen Minutes Magazine.