Somerville Candidate Profile: Jack Connolly for City Councilor-at-Large

I’m Jack Connolly, candidate for City of Somerville Councilor-at-Large on Tuesday Nov. 5. I’m running because I love Somerville, it is my lifetime home, and I love having been part of the many changes that have made this city a place where everybody wants to be. It wasn’t always this way, but thanks to the hard work of so many people over the years, we were able to make progressive changes. I’m running for councilor because I’m not happy about progress this city has lacked over the last two years.

I’m not happy about the long-overdue rewrite of the city Zoning Code that has languished, I’m not happy about Union Square not being united, especially with the Green Line Extension under construction. I am not happy that the long-time hub of economic activity, Davis Square, is decaying, distressed, and in a sad state of disrepair, crumbling apart one loose or missing brick at a time.

The crosswalks have become hazardous, especially for disabled folks to navigate, and has remained neglected for far too long.

Roadway repairs are needed on our public roads and main streets. Their current conditions affect cars, trucks, and especially cyclists. It doesn’t matter if you choose to drive, walk, run, or cycle, our main streets are a patchwork of asphalt-paved over potholes citywide, and it has to change.

I don’t think I have to mention that traffic is an ongoing and continuous problem, leading to longer commutes and has negatively impacted day to day lives of all residents of Somerville.

In addition, the closing of the Ball Square Bridge, Medford Street, and Somerville Avenue detours has created so much confusion and frustration for residents, business owners, commuters, and consumers alike.

So where is the progress? It seems to me, you have to actually achieve progress in order to call yourself a true progressive.

A lot of us recall how dozens of residents and small business owners planned and brought the Red Line to Davis Square, how the city united with our then congressman and Assembly Square developers to build the Orange Line T stop. Thanks to a united effort citywide, we are now getting ready for the Green Line station to open throughout the city.

Don’t forget that Friends in Support of the Somerville Theatre were able to save that treasured landmark, the Davis Square Task Force re-shaped the square, and civic-minded community members engineered the planning and build-out of Assembly Square.

It took a lot of energy, time, and most importantly community cooperation, from many people to accomplish these feats. I am pleased and remain proud to have been a part of it, but we can’t continue these accomplishments or make tremendous changes to Somerville without us working together once more, especially on major issues like housing.

Everyone will agree that Somerville and the entire Greater Boston region have a large lack of housing. We need more of it, not just affordable housing units, but all types. This city is growing, and the people in it need a place to live and call home. This is not our problem alone; it effects and extends out to Cambridge, Boston, and surrounding communities; it is something that needs to be addressed together. Unsuccessful developments like the 500 units that were supposed to be built on North Street in Ward 7 were swept under the rug after a proposed contract for 70 percent union development wasn’t good enough. It’s unacceptable that homes are not being built when more than ever before, we need them.

The struggle of being land owner or a home owner is growing. New ordinances, while already very difficult to live by and adhere to, continue to be proposed by the City Council. I want to work alongside S.P.O.C. (Somerville Property Owner Coalition) to make sure that there is no longer a lack of notification when public hearings are supposed to be announced, and to address property rights abridged by the city of Somerville and the City Council, notably the likely water bill increases.

Another ongoing issue citywide is our neglected unions and appointed city administration staff. There have been and continues to be unsettled contracts.

There has been a complete loss for the fundamentals of taking care of our own. Day in and day out our unions are responsible for the upkeep and ongoing maintenance of the city, no matter what the conditions are, yet many remain underpaid, and without thanks for being a significant reason why this city runs and works effectively day to day.

Among all of the changes that need to made in Somerville is one that is ignored far too often, and that is the basic human services our city provides.

Outstanding programs like Respond, The Somerville Homeless Coalition, the Mass Bay Veterans Center on North Street, the Food Pantry Project Soup, and especially our programs focusing on addiction and treatments available, like the Alex Foster Foundation, ColumnHealth, and Somerville Overcomes Addiction. We are a fortunate as a city to have these non-profit programs, but they are in need of ongoing resources, funding, and support in order to create safe environments, continue to provide shelter, meals, and treatment for those who battle and struggle with addiction in order to stop overdoses in our city. I am ready to support and provide additional city supported linkages for these vital human services as one of my top priorities as a Somerville city councilor.

I understand the needs of the city of Somerville; I want to continue to work with you and for you. I may have been here for a lifetime, but you may not be, and that’s just fine, no matter how long you have been here, I’m glad you’re here as part of our Somerville community.

It’s vital that this city once again continues to move forward; and without you and the right people like myself, to call upon, that’s not possible.

So, I’m Jack Connolly, candidate for Somerville City Council at Large, and I want to work with you and for you so we may work together to make Somerville the great place it has become, and make sure it will stay that way. Please consider me for one of your four votes for Somerville Councilor at Large on Nov. 5, Election Day.

The Somerville Journal is partnering with the Somerville Media Center to bring you profiles on the candidates in Somerville’s 2019 municipal elections. There are eight candidates running for four councilor-at-large seats. The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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