Mayors across Greater Boston face stiff challenges in 2022 amid the ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change, and calls for equity and racial justice, but seven of the region’s newest leaders are offering visions of hope for the new year.
Below are excerpts from inaugural speeches delivered by the incoming mayors of Somerville, Lowell, Gloucester, Framingham, Lynn, and Newburyport as they were sworn in this month. Lawrence’s mayor, who took office in November, shared his priorities for the city in an e-mail to the Globe.
Ballantyne, 59, is a native of Greece who became a United States citizen as a teenager. The former Somerville city councilor has worked for several nonprofits and served as executive director of an anti-violence program for at-risk girls in Boston. Elected in November, she succeeds Joseph Curtatone, who did not seek reelection.
In her Jan. 3 inauguration speech, Ballantyne said she envisions Somerville as an inclusive, equitable city where people can thrive together. Pledging to listen to all residents, she pointed to the issues facing the city and the nation.
“Not only do we have a regional affordability crisis, deep racial and social injustices to address, and a planetary climate threat to contend with, we are still in the greatest public health challenge in a century,” she said.
“That may sound daunting, but I have the good fortune to be Mayor of Somerville,” Ballantyne said. “We’re going to face our challenges together and beat them, because that is the nature of this community that long ago embraced me and became my home.”
DePeña, 57, served on the City Council and led numerous civic organizations. Originally from the Dominican Republic, he has owned several businesses in Lawrence. He was sworn in as mayor in November, after defeating Acting Mayor Kendrys R. Vasquez.
In a Jan. 5 e-mail to the Globe, DePeña said his number one priority during his first year as mayor is to put together a “serious and comprehensive” plan for petitioning the state to end its 10-year receivership of the city’s public schools.
“This is [most] especially during this time, pandemic,” he said, because local health officials “should be able to demand that public school district follow the Mayor/Council wishes on protecting students, staff, and parents.”
DePeña said he also wants to improve the appearance of Lawrence, such as landscaping public areas and maintaining the roads and sidewalks that serve as entryways into the city.
“A clean, attractive community is not only a more pleasant place to live, but the value of the good impression it makes on prospective employers, professionals and others who visit Lawrence should never be underestimated,” DePeña said.
Chau, 49, a Lowell city councilor and community activist, is the nation’s first Cambodian American mayor and the city’s first Asian American mayor, according to the Associated Press.
Chau, who has a background in small business, was elected mayor on Jan. 3 by his City Council colleagues, succeeding former Mayor John Leahy. He will serve as council president and chair of the School Committee, while Lowell’s daily operations are handled by a city manager. Chau’s day job is with the state’s Disability Determination Services, he said.
In his inauguration speech Jan. 3, Chau described how his family arrived in Lowell as refugees in the 1970s after fleeing Cambodia, where his father was executed by the Khmer Rouge,
“As a proud Cambodian American, I am standing on the shoulders of many immigrants who came before me to build this city,” Chau said, according to the AP.
Chau said city leaders must address housing, homelessness, and neighborhood issues to enhance the quality of life in Lowell.
“We must have our dreams; we must have our goals; and we must work cooperatively with the administration to cost effectively complete these priorities,” Chau said.
Verga, 53, is a real estate agent who has served on Gloucester’s City Council and School Committee. He defeated former mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken in the November election.
Verga said Gloucester is positioned to begin a dramatic evolution that will improve the lives of residents, modernize infrastructure and public services, and rejuvenate pride in the city, which turns 400 years old next year.
“A hallmark of my administration will be to establish a tone of respect, professionalism and civility inside City Hall,” he said in his Jan. 1 inauguration speech.
“We are turning the page, wiping the slate clean and starting fresh. Collaboration will drive the narrative inside and outside City Hall,” he said. “We’re going to forge new relationships and fortify existing ones. We will build trust, launch partnerships, and establish a sense of team.”
Sisitsky, 76, a former city councilor who served as a selectman for a decade while Framingham was still a town. He was Natick’s director of public works for more than 20 years, according to an online biography. He defeated Framingham’s first mayor, Yvonne Spicer, in the November election.
Sisitsky, who was sworn in Jan. 1, said there is a dire need for better government and civic engagement in Framingham, which became a city in 2018.
“I promise that my administration will be fiscally responsible, and inclusive to all members of our community. I intend to continue to get more people involved as we work to fill vacancies in the city’s workforce,” Sisitsky said. “We have already begun the process to seek out the best, brightest, diverse, multilingual and talented staff.”
He said he would build strong relationships with local and state leaders, and he called on residents to step forward and contribute to the city.
“I need your input, your help, your ideas, your time, and your commitment to working together to make Framingham work better for all of us who live and work here, and it starts now,” he said.
Nicholson, 36, is a former Northeastern University law professor who has served on Lynn’s School Committee. He succeeds former Mayor Thomas McGee, who did not seek reelection.
In his Jan. 3 inauguration speech, Nicholson focused on the importance of giving more Lynn residents the opportunity to succeed. As the nation comes to terms with the gap between the promise of equality and the lived reality for many people, “we can be a shining example of genuine openness and opportunity.”
He said many people in Lynn recognize that the city has real potential to grow, and to do so in a way that includes all of its residents.
“Delivering city services effectively and respectfully, upgrading the city’s infrastructure with urgency and foresight, building trust through transparency and accountability. That’s the plan for our administration.”
Reardon, 46, has worked in sales and served on the city’s School Committee. He succeeds former Mayor Donna Holaday, who did not seek reelection.
In his Jan. 3 inauguration speech, Reardon recalled his upbringing in the city and said Newburyporters “have and always will be a community of doers.”
He called on residents to get involved in city government by joining a board, or by volunteering at a school or senior center. He said Newburyport is “steeped in tradition and promise, family and new beginnings.”
“It is with this common thread that we start anew, loyal to what makes Newburyport that beacon,” he said. “A thriving arts community, a bustling historic downtown, a hub of industry and innovation, a hometown that puts the education and safety of our children first, an epicenter that supports our local businesses, and a place where all people feel accepted, valued, and welcomed.”
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.