Left: Rae. Marya and Mark, Summer 2005; Right: Mark, Marya and Rae, Fall 2020
Dear Ward 5 neighbors, Somerville community members, friends, and supporters,
I am writing to let you know that I will not be a candidate for re-election for Ward 5 City Councilor in the November 2, 2021 City election. The past 15 years serving on the School Committee and City Council have been the highlight of my work life.
I am grateful to have had this opportunity and grateful to have met and worked with so many caring, committed, smart and wonderful people.
I will serve out my full current term through the end of 2021. I look forward to continuing in my current role and working with you for the next year. So it is way too early for you to say goodbye to me! Or for me or anyone else to reflect on the 15 years that I have had the privilege to represent Ward 5 in Somerville — first on the School Committee for eight years and now on the Council for seven. There is more to come!
I make this announcement now because I want to give potential candidates time to talk with family and friends and prepare to run a campaign and serve in 2022 if elected. I’m happy to talk with anyone who is considering running for Ward 5 City Council about what it’s like to campaign and what it’s like to do the job. Don’t hesitate to contact me.
I care deeply about Somerville and especially the many people I know who live in Ward 5. I want us to have a hardworking, capable and progressive representative on the City Council. I hope there will be a bunch of candidates and that they will engage in constructive discussion and debate about the issues and the challenges we face to maintain Somerville as a mixed-income and diverse community. Elections are always about the future.
I am looking forward to a productive 2021 on the City Council and to making progress on affordable housing, civilian oversight and reimagining the Somerville Police Department, weighing in on appointments to key City Boards and real-estate development projects (especially in Ward 5), and helping to add more open space and trees and addressing climate change at the local level. I serve on the Legislative Matters Committee, which develops most of the new or revised ordinances for the Council, and on the Land Use Committee, which develops and considers zoning amendments, so those will continue to be priorities for me.
I am the Chair of the City Council Traffic and Parking Committee, and traffic calming is one of the top concerns of Ward 5 residents. I have been an urban cyclist for almost 50 years. I worked closely with former Councilor-at-Large Stephanie Hirsch on pedestrian safety before she moved back to Wisconsin. For these reasons, my primary focus and top goal will be to make major progress on traffic calming — especially pedestrian safety and bicyclist safety. Leah Zallman was the fourth pedestrian to be killed on our streets in the last two years. I want to work with the Mayor, City staff in the Mobility and Parking Departments, my colleagues, members of the Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee, the Bicycle Committee, and the many committed activists in the community so that her death is the last. Pedestrian safety is a public health and public safety crisis in Somerville! It is past time for the City to commit the money for staff and infrastructure so that you don’t have to take your life in your hands when you cross the street.
I am not planning to run for any other elected position. I will be almost 67 ½ years old on December 31, 2021 (God willing). While being a City Councilor is wonderful in many ways, it is a challenging and often difficult job that requires a lot of energy and many night meetings, some of them going quite late. The City Council has had an infusion of younger, smart, talented, hardworking and committed members in recent years. It is a strong and capable group that works well together. I am sure I will be missed, but the show will go on and it will be a good show without me.
I have 100 ideas about what to do with my time starting in 2022 but no idea which of them I will actually want to pursue. I expect to continue to do volunteer work of various sorts, including political work and advocacy work. And I expect to continue to be involved in public life here in our City, but in a different way.
There are so many people I want to thank and appreciate for their help and for working together with me. I hope to have the opportunity to do so in person in the coming year. Hopefully that will be possible.
For now, I do want to offer some preliminary thank yous. Perhaps that is premature as I still have over a year on the City Council, but it’s never a bad time to be grateful and say thanks.
First of all, I want to thank the Ward 5 voters who elected me eight times.
Thank you to the many volunteers who worked on my campaigns and the donors who contributed their hard-earned money to my Campaign Committee.
Thank you to my Campaign Committee/Kitchen Cabinet. This wonderful group of about two dozen people helped me win elections, gave me good counsel on political matters, and advised me wisely on the key issues that we have grappled with in Somerville over the years.
Thank you to my Campaign Manager Mary Regan. I have been so lucky that Mary has stuck with me since 2013! Her excellent advice, organizing ability, communications skills, and progressive values have helped me enormously. And to Sarah Fischman, who ran my first campaign for School Committee in 2005, which I won by only 50 votes.
Thank you to the many community members who have given me feedback, input, advice, criticism and advocated on the issues over the years. And to those who worked with me developing legislation and policies. It would be impossible to do this job well without the concerns, perspectives and information that community members regularly share with us Councilors. Many of you are more knowledgeable than I am on specific issues and I have learned so much from emails and discussions with you.
Mark Niedergang, Ward 5 City Councilor
617 629-8033 firstname.lastname@example.org