2019 Candidate Survey: Somerville Mayor

Photo from somervillema.gov

Welcome to Scout Somerville’s candidate survey for the 2019 municipal elections, which will take place on Tuesday, November 5. We sent surveys to all candidates running in opposed races for Somerville mayor, council at large, and school committee, and will be posting their answers this week.

Today we are featuring the mayoral race. Both candidates were given the same five questions, and were limited to 50 words in their answer; longer answers have been truncated and are indicated with an asterisk (*) at the end of the text. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Joe Curtatone

Joe Curtatone (incumbent)
Pronouns: he/him
Somerville resident: Lifetime

1) What are the three top issues your office will face in this coming term?
Housing affordability, climate action, and schools. The first two are crisis issues and we have aggressive plans in place. We intend to lead our region on both. Schools have been a success story, but they are a permanent priority. Each generation of kids deserves the best we can give them.

2) The Green Line Extension and the condominium conversion ordinance are among many pressing issues in Somerville. What’s one challenge the city is facing that you think isn’t receiving enough attention?
The opioid epidemic has been raging, often unseen, in our neighborhoods. We’ve lost 77 residents to overdose since 2014. First responders used 183 doses of Narcan in 2018 while responding to overdoses. We are looking to open safe consumption sites to prevent deaths and steer people toward treatment.

3) What will be your top three priorities in your first city budget?
Our top issues—schools, housing, climate—also are our budget priorities. The city also does an immense amount of work in areas like public works, public safety, recreation, arts, and senior programs. We seek to excel at everything we do. Yet budget priorities reflect policy priorities.

4) What sets you apart as a candidate?
Commitment. We have the top urban schools in Massachusetts, the GLX and new high school under construction, 98% of residents living near public parks, thriving city squares, a local Green New Deal underway, vastly reduced crime, and the most aggressive affordable housing agenda in the region.

5) What’s one fun fact about you?
I spoke almost exclusively Italian until I started school. It’s my first language. My sister Maria taught me English. I still speak Italian with many residents when I’m knocking doors for the election.

Marianne Walles
Marianne Walles

Marianne Walles
Pronouns: she/her
Somerville resident: Lifetime


1) What are the three top issues your office will face in this coming term?
We can do more to keep Somerville affordable for residents. The lack of affordable housing is forcing people out. Traffic is a nightmare due to poor planning by the mayor. Unnecessary tax breaks to big developers have put too heavy tax burden on residents to support city services.

2) The Green Line Extension and the condominium conversion ordinance are among many pressing issues in Somerville. What’s one challenge the city is facing that you think isn’t receiving enough attention?
2050 is far too long to become carbon neutral. Municipal buildings should be retrofitted to use alternative energy sources. Department of Public Works and our schools need to lead the way. Better incentives for electric vehicles. More green space and community gardens are needed.

3) What will be your top three priorities in your first city budget?
Ensure transparency on the city’s budget so the mayor and the city council are held accountable on how we spend money. Our priority must be to ensure quality education, senior services, and social services. Good jobs, pay equity, and fair contracts for city employees is overdue.

4) What sets you apart as a candidate?
I am not a politician. As a social worker, I have firsthand experience helping people find housing. I have helped people access mental health and substance abuse services. I have helped immigrants with immigration issues. With my background, I can make a real difference for our residents.

5) What’s one fun fact about you?
Over the years I have volunteered on campaigns to improve our city. Change doesn’t occur without many people becoming involved and working together to take on the big landlords and developers. I can help lead that change in Somerville!

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