Local Government and Politics, News

McGee is sworn in as Lynn’s 58th mayor

Thomas McGee being sworn in as Mayor of Lynn by Associate Justice Leslie A. Donahue. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Former state Sen. Thomas M. McGee was sworn in as the city’s 58th mayor on Tuesday night, vowing to make Lynn a leader in the region again and speaking about its untapped potential.

“As mayor, I will not just imagine the new opportunities for Lynn,” McGee said during his 15-minute inaugural speech. “I will reach out and take them. The future we want for our city will never come if we sit back and wait for it. We have to take initiative — show what Lynn has to offer, and be prepared for any and every economic opportunity. Large and small, economic development possibilities are all around us, but they will pass us by if we aren’t ready.”

Citing opportunities such as updating the city’s waterfront plan to having its pitch ready for Amazon’s second headquarters, McGee said he will be sure to show potential businesses that Lynn should be their first choice.

“As your mayor, my administration will go after every opportunity that makes sense for the future of our community,” he said.

McGee, a Democrat, defeated former two-term Republican mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy in November’s election by a 64 to 35 percent margin, sweeping every precinct in the city.

McGee was sworn in before a packed auditorium at City Hall, which included his wife, Maria and their two children, Thomas and Katherine. McGee said before the inauguration that his parents, Thomas W. and Ann McGee, would be there in spirit. Former House speaker Thomas W. McGee died in 2012 and his wife died a year later.

Special guests in attendance included U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Kennedy.

“This is a great day for the McGee family, for Lynn and for the people of Massachusetts,” Markey said. “(McGee) is genetically hardwired to lead this wonderful city and I believe he has spent his entire life getting ready to be the greatest mayor in the history of the city.”

Markey said he wants to work with President Donald Trump on an infrastructure bill so that McGee, whom he called the transportation czar in the Statehouse, can have the funds to ensure that there is a year-round ferry going from Lynn to Boston and back (McGee has made ferry service to Boston a priority). The senator also cited his shared vision with Walsh, which is that the MBTA Blue Line starts in downtown Boston and ends in downtown Lynn.

McGee described Lynn as a city to believe in, describing its story as his own, which is one of immigrants, but also one of industry, referencing Lynn’s history of becoming a leader in the shoe industry by the mid-1800s.

He spoke about how his great-grandparents arrived after fleeing the potato famine in their country and his maternal grandparents came from Sicily after an earthquake destroyed their community.

He described how his family’s story reflects the promise of America — his grandmother, with only a seventh grade education, was able to work in Lynn’s shoe factories to support her family after his grandfather returned disabled from World War I. Within a generation, McGee said her son became speaker of the Statehouse and on Tuesday, her grandson was sworn in as the city’s mayor.

McGee said Lynn’s greatest strength has been its diversity, and said the city is at its best when it is working to make everyone’s dreams a reality — he said it’s his duty to ensure that its history serves as a guide and fulfills future opportunities.

“Imagine a Lynn that is again the gateway to the North Shore,” McGee said. “Imagine a Lynn that is again the leader in the region. Imagine a Lynn that comes together to create opportunity, that inspires and enriches the lives of residents and visitors. That is my vision for the city.”

McGee said one of his first priorities will be to conduct a review of the city’s finances, which will allow for necessary cuts, but also the ability to invest in needed services. He said the challenge will be closing Lynn’s significant budget gap.

“The reality is that our city finances are more than strained,” McGee said. “However, this does not excuse City Hall from its responsibility to you. Our neighborhoods need to be safe, our streets need to be clean and maintained, and our children need to be given every chance for success.”

McGee said it is also important to invest in the city’s children, giving them the tools to succeed. To do that, he said there must be a roadmap created for 21st century schools, and that officials have to re-engage the Massachusetts School Building Authority, on the heels of the nearly $200 million failed school vote in March — two middle schools had been proposed.

McGee said the national political dialogue has become divisive, but he promised that Lynn city government will continue to be one of collaboration and inclusivity. He also vowed that City Hall will have an open-door policy and that his administration will be based on transparency and collaboration,

He said Lynn has been his family’s home for generations, and that he wants everyone to feel hopeful about its future and believe in the city.

“I believe in Lynn,” McGee said. “I believe in its people, and I believe in our ability to work together and forge a great path towards the Lynn of tomorrow. I want my children, your children and our grandchildren to imagine a future where they live, work and raise their families here.

“As your mayor, I will embrace our past, I will fight for our city today, and I will work to build the foundation for an even brighter future for everyone. For one Lynn. A city we all believe in.”

Also sworn in on Tuesday night were City Council members, Buzzy Barton, Peter Capano, Dianna Chakoutis, Richard Colucci, Darren Cyr (the council president who served as the night’s master of ceremonies), Brian LaPierre, Wayne Lozzi, Hong Net, John “Jay” Walsh, and two new members, Brian Field and Richard Starbard.

School Committee members sworn in were Donna Coppola, Lorraine Gately, Jared Nicholson and new members, Brian Castellanos and Michael Satterwhite. Member John Ford was not able to attend.

Before becoming mayor, McGee served as a state senator since his 2002 election. He represented the communities of Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott. He had previously served four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he represented West Lynn and Nahant.

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