ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Donna Coppola, left, and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy have a word during Kennedy’s re-election kickoff.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy kicked off her campaign for a third term Wednesday night at a crowded fundraiser in the Porthole Restaurant.
Kennedy, a Republican, will face state Sen. Thomas McGee in what is expected to be a hotly contested race. Last month the Lynn Democrat, who has served in the state Senate since 2002, announced his intention to seek the corner office.
In mentioning McGee in her remarks, Kennedy said the two of them have been in public life for more than two decades and each of them have records that should be scrutinized.
“I hope all of you will base your vote in this election, not on personalities, not on political parties, not on family connections, but on who has done the most to bring improvements to our great city,” she said.
Kennedy became mayor in 2009 when she beat Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy by 27 votes of the more than 16,000 ballots cast. In 2013, she bested Timothy Phelan by a 59 to 41 percent margin.
The mayor reminded the crowd what Lynn was like in 2010, the year she took office. She said Sluice, Flax and Goldfish ponds were infested with invasive weeds, several parks lacked lights for night games, there were few options for seniors to save on their real estate taxes, the General Electric Factory of the Future site had been vacant for more than 10 years, the Thurgood Marshall Middle School was in need of replacing, the Lynn Auditorium had just three shows a year, the downtown was filled with litter, and if teens wanted a summer job, they needed help from an elected official.
“Today, the ponds are clean, Barry Park and Wyoma Baseball Field have lights, there’s a nightly street sweeping schedule in the downtown, we implemented a way for income-eligible seniors to work off $600 from their property tax bills, there’s a lottery for summer jobs, the Lynn Auditorium is air conditioned and booked, the Factory of the Future is the new home for Market Basket, and we built a new middle school,” she said. “I ask for your support as we continue this progress for the next four years.”
The event attracted many of the city’s elected officials and candidates for office, as well as supporters.
Elaine Letowski, an insurance writer who moved to Lynn in 2003, said she attended the event because she strongly backs Kennedy.
“She’s good for our city, she says no when you have to say no,” she said. “We don’t have enough money for everything. She’s working on the budget, makes good decisions, keeps our taxes down, and is making Lynn a better place to live.”
Eileen Spencer, a real estate broker at Annmarie Jonah Realtors, said Kennedy has helped revitalize the downtown.
“Judy has done a phenomenal job for the city,” she said. “What I like most of all is what’s she’s done to improve the Lynn Auditorium and that is bringing business to the downtown.”
The mayor’s fundraiser comes one day after a team of consultants told officials that without corrective action, the city’s budget is projected to have an $8.6 million deficit in 2017 and in each of the next five years.
The PFM Group, based out of Philadelphia, provided a grim prescription to City Hall: No raises for city employees, freeze hiring, contract EMS services to a private company, and eliminate 35 city jobs.
Kennedy did not ignore the city’s financial troubles in her speech.
“I want to be real, not everything is rosy and, of course, we have some difficulties, such as balancing the budget,” she said. “But I’ve been quietly looking to officials at the federal level … and I expect to return to Washington in the coming months to meet with the new Trump administration to see what I can do for my city.”
Thomas Grillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.