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New decade, new leaders for six cities outside Boston

Medford City Hall.
Medford City Hall.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Kassandra Gove
Kassandra GoveDragonfly Photography

AMESBURY

Kassandra Gove

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 17,569

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

Amesbury has its challenges just like every other city, and my team looks forward to getting started. We’ll focus on keeping current programs moving while also improving certain processes, like long-term planning for city projects and capital improvements. With developments coming our way like the new elementary school, we have to know what impacts these projects will have long-term. We also need to do a better job with communication and transparency, so Amesbury residents know exactly where their tax dollars are going and what we’re working on.

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What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

First and foremost we have to get the new budget out, but we also have to look at overhauling the city’s website to make information easier to find and more accessible for business owners and residents. I also plan to bring in a grant writer to help find state and federal dollars, while we also look at private funding, which will help offset the overall tax burden on residents and businesses.

What makes your city a great place to live?

Amesbury really is a hidden gem; we have incredible restaurants and shops, we have family-friendly businesses and activities, and this community is incredibly kind, generous, and welcoming. We really have it all here.

Charles Kokoros
Charles KokorosHandout

BRAINTREE

Charles Kokoros

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 37,250

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

One of them is the need to protect our town from high-density residential development — more importantly, from the two [Chapter] 40B developments that have been proposed in the town. We will continue our fight against them.

The second one is that we have some critical school capital needs as well as many town buildings that are in need of major capital improvements. And we have very limited resources to devote to these capital needs. An especially critical need is the Braintree fire headquarters, which we must repair or replace sooner rather than later.

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What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

My first priority for the coming year is to fund and create a new master plan. It will provide a blueprint of how we want to move forward with development and many other issues in the town.

What makes your city a great place to live?

It’s a unique question for me because I have lived in the town my whole life. What makes Braintree a great community? It’s the people that live and work here. Our community stands together during the toughest challenges and the greatest victories. We are a community of kind and compassionate people that are always there to help someone out in need.

Robert F. Sullivan
Robert F. SullivanNicki Pardo

BROCKTON

Robert F. Sullivan

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 95,777

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

The number one challenge is the public perception of Brockton. Some people have an outdated notion of what Brockton is. We need to do better marketing the city and the wonderful benefits it offers, from the great ethnic cultures to our nationally recognized public schools.

Another challenge is changing City Hall culture. I plan to institute an open, transparent type of culture at City Hall that everybody that lives or works in the city will be proud of.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

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We need a safer community. We’re going to have much more open communication between the citizens and law enforcement, and hire more police and firefighters.

Another priority is economic development. Over $150 million was invested in downtown Brockton in 2019. We need to continue that development, and actually expand upon it.

What makes your city a great place to live?

The number one thing is the people. Brockton has always been comprised of different ethnic communities that come here. Back in the day it was the Irish, the Italians, the Lithuanians, the Polish, and the Swedes. Now it’s Cape Verdeans, Latinos, Haitians, and Angolans. Also our location. We have three rail stops in Brockton, offering a quick commute into Boston. And again, our education system.

Breanna Lungo-Koehn
Breanna Lungo-KoehnHandout

MEDFORD

Breanna Lungo-Koehn

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 57,765

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

Some of our biggest challenges are lack of planning or up-to-date zoning; and airplane noise, parking, and city services that struggle to keep up with our needs. We also need to make sure our schools are the best they can be.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

My primary goal in 2020 is to create a strong relationship between local government and our residents. That starts with communication and transparency. I hope to work with the City Council and Legislature to establish a charter review commission, take steps to bring our parking enforcement in-house, revise the budget process to make it more transparent, and find ways to improve city services through better management tools.

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What makes your city a great place to live?

It is because of the people that live and work here. We are lucky to have so many great people who volunteer on so many levels. We also have amazing neighborhoods, businesses, parks, and green spaces. By engaging with our diverse residents, we can make Medford even stronger. We can continue making Medford a place people want to live, work, and visit by enhancing what we have and addressing the challenges we face, and doing it in a way that engages and includes everyone.

Paul Brodeur
Paul BrodeurNick Surette

MELROSE

Paul Brodeur

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 28,193

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

The challenge for any new mayor is to bring the community back together after an election. We’ve had two elections — an override election and then we picked a new mayor. Now it’s time to bring people together and move forward in a positive way for all our priorities.

We need to take advantage of all that good energy that occurred over the last couple of campaigns. There are folks interested in climate change. We have tons of work to do in a positive way on our schools. We need to ensure our downtown continues to thrive.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

My two priorities are better communication and customer service. We’re in a people-oriented business, and if we are to have the confidence of the people we work for, we need to ensure they have good information and that we serve them well.

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We also have significant infrastructure needs. We have put together a capital improvement report. Up next will be chipping away at those long-term needs that have been neglected for awhile.

What makes your city a great place to live?

It’s kind of got the best of everything. It is a safe city, with great schools. It is tremendously convenient to get into Boston.

Neil Perry
Neil PerryHandout

METHUEN

Neil P. Perry

■  Elected mayor in 2019

■  Population: 50,698

What are two of the biggest challenges facing your city?

By far and away the number one challenge is the Methuen Police Superior Officers’ contract. Arbitration is scheduled for late March. We’ve got to resolve that one way or another to the satisfaction of both the taxpayers of the city and the police.

We also have to address the perceived lack of transparency in the city. We have a number of initiatives to ensure citizens are aware of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

What is at the top of your agenda for 2020?

A resolution of the Superior Officers’ contract. And then as part of the transition, we created not only a traditional department heads’ questionnaire but also four transition groups comprised of citizens. The intent is to develop structured goals for department heads, and a balanced score card that we can regularly communicate to citizens so they can see their government is working for them.

What makes your city a great place to live?

There’s some really great people here, that really love the city. We also have a unique blend of history and progress. We’ve got some marvelous preserved historical assets. Combined with all that is our location as a gateway community — we’re going to work very hard to make it attractive for businesses to come here.


Interviews were edited and condensed. John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.