Somerville Journal Endorsement

During the preliminary election, the Journal endorsed Matt McLaughlin for Ward 1 Alderman, Suzanne Bremer for Ward 3 Alderman and Laura Pitone for Ward 5 School Committee, and we stand by those endorsements. What follows are endorsements for the remaining legislative elections – Wards 1 and 2 in the School Committee, Wards 5 and 7 on the Board of Aldermen, and the four at-large alderman positions.

We’ve been impressed by Steven Roix’s performance in Ward 1 since being appointed to the School Committee earlier this year. He’s engaged with the community and adapted to the new role and at this point has the experience that his opponent, Ken Salvato, lacks. We endorse Steven Roix for Ward 1 School Committee.

In Ward 2, both Dan Futrell and Michael Nionakis are first-time candidates for School Committee and would be learning on the job. But we think Futrell’s education and policy experience through his job at Boston nonprofit Year Up makes him a good pick, as does his emphasis on helping the city’s parents get involved with their government. We endorse Dan Futrell for Ward 2 School Committee.

Ward 5 voters have two strong candidates to choose from for alderman, Mark Niedergang and Courtney O’Keefe. Niedergang has served as the Ward 5 School Committee member for eight years and O’Keefe has been Ward 5’s alderman since previous Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donovan, who stepped down in April, recommended her as a replacement. O’Keefe, a longtime presence at city meetings, has been active in her new role and consistently reaches out to constituents.

But we think Niedergang has been responsible to the people of Ward 5 during his time on the School Committee and would bring legislative experience from that body to the board. We’re also impressed with his advocacy for housing that is both affordable and accessible to families and his willingness to speak out against proposals he thinks are not in Somerville’s best interest. We strongly endorse Mark Niedergang for Ward 5 Alderman.

In Ward 7, prior candidate Katjana Ballantyne is facing off against newcomer Joe Capuano. Capuano has done a good job running on his own merits instead of his family name, but we’re more impressed with Ballantyne’s commitment to her ward, running last year against then-incumbent Bob Trane instead of only jumping in when the seat became “open.” We endorse Ballantyne for Ward 7 Alderman.

The at-large race is the most competitive, with three incumbents – Jack Connolly, Dennis Sullivan and Bill White – competing with candidates Carol Dempkowski, Sean Fitzgerald, Willie Medeiros and Mary Jo Rossetti for four seats on the board. Dempkowski and Medeiros are passionate but inexperienced, and while Rossetti has been an able School Committee member, we think Fitzgerald would provide a fresher voice on the board. In contrast, Jack Connolly has been on the board for more than three decades but brings institutional knowledge to that body. Dennis Sullivan also brings experience and offers a great model for constituent services with his mobile office hours.

And Bill White, especially during his tenure as board president this year, has been the most vocal check on proposals and plans from the mayor’s office and the most willing to scrutinize details, down to line by line readings of the budget. The aldermen are often accused, sometimes by themselves, of being a rubber stamp for the mayor’s policies and White has led this year’s turn away from that designation. We endorse Jack Connolly, Sean Fitzgerald and Dennis Sullivan, and strongly endorse Bill White, in the hopes of seeing aldermen continue in a more independent direction in the future.

 

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