Curtatone won’t seek reelection as Somerville mayor
Nine terms is enough, says longtime city leader
JOE CURTATONE, the feisty longtime mayor of Somerville, who has been an outspoken leader on progressive municipal policy — from his early declaration of racism as a public health crisis to his support for bike lanes and aggressive measures to contain COVID and the inequities it has laid bare — said Monday that he won’t run for a 10th two-year term this fall.
Curtatone, who was elected in 2003, has been one of the longest serving mayors in the state. He made the announcement in a virtual speech delivered Monday afternoon.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the city where I was raised,” he said in announcing his decision.
Curtatone’s tenure has coincided with Somerville’s transformation from working-class inner-ring city to high-cost haven for college-educated professionals.
The 54-year-old Somerville native managed to successfully bridge the two factions that had long defined the compact city of 81,000 — its long-time working-class families, predominantly Irish and Italian, and the newcomers who have reshaped it recent decades, a mix of higher income professionals and immigrants. Fifty languages are spoken by families with children the city’s public schools.
In 2016, Curtatone embraced the Black Lives Matter effort, hanging a banner in support of the movement at City Hall following protests in Ferguson, Missouri. He criticized those who welcome the disruption of sports championship parades but were quick to condemn protesters who sought to block traffic at the time on Interstate 93.
“Many of our political leaders were quick to castigate them,” Curtatone wrote of the January 2016 demonstration in a CommonWealth op-ed. “Only days later, those same political leaders spoke at Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, never once noting the irony that they had just expressed outrage at the sort of protest in which Dr. King might have been involved. They should hate injustice more than inconvenience.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic a year ago, he has been a forceful voice in support of strong measures to contain the virus, pushing early on for surveillance testing in schools and criticizing Gov. Charlie Baker for moving to reopen parts of the economy before he thought it was safe.Curtatone didn’t say what his plans are after leaving office. He has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor, but gave no hint whether he’s considering a statewide run in 2022.
If he were to run, he would start out at a major disadvantage financially. He had $22,684 in his campaign account at the end of January, while other potential candidates have far more. Attorney General Maura Healey, who is believed to be considering a run, has $2.95 million in cash on hand.