Summer 2016

What’s a Mayor to Do? Plenty.

Though the five Massachusetts mayors who visited BC Law in February agreed that challenges differ with the different communities they govern, they all agreed that the office of mayor has grown in reputation and importance in recent years, with relative federal gridlock requiring a more active and hands-on role from municipal leaders. They arrived at the Law School bearing the message that everyone should become more involved in the political life of their hometowns.

The panel consisted of Boston College graduates Joseph Curtatone of Somerville and Setti Warren of Newton, as well as Dan Rivera of Lawrence and Jon Mitchell, mayor of New Bedford. Serving as moderator was Lisa Wong, former mayor of Fitchburg. They were at the Law School at the invitation of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy.

New Bedford’s Mitchell, who guides the south coast’s largest metropolitan community, described the difficulty of drawing state attention to municipalities in a Commonwealth so centered on Boston and its surrounding cities.

Others talked about the necessity for them to look beyond the everyday maintenance and survival of their cities and have a vision for the economic mobility and cultural vibrancy of their communities years in the future. The challenges of balancing increasing prosperity and housing prices with affordability and ease of transportation, among others, were discussed at length.

All stressed the importance of being involved in one’s community, whether through volunteer work or civic office, and revealed a commitment to public service in their communities before their mayoral administrations. They emphasized the importance of remaining in close contact with their communities and the individuals they served.

“Everybody should run for office,” said Rivera. “We get the government we deserve.”

Photo: Lisa Wong, former mayor of Fitchburg, and Setti Warren, mayor of Newton

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