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LYNN – Brian Field, incumbent councilor at large, believes that successfully working on the City Council takes a collective effort and that he has shown himself to be a strong team player.
“You have to earn the respect of your colleagues, you have to respect their opinions, too,” said Field. “That’s the challenge of being a councilor. You have to be able to see the good in people.”
He has carried his philosophy of helping someone each day from being a funeral director to being a city councilor, he added.
“The most rewarding part is knowing that you helped someone,” he said. “Not somebody in want, but in need. There is a lot of need in this city.”
Field was born in 1976 in Lynn Hospital and grew up with his three siblings between East and West Lynn, where he spent a lot of time helping his grandparents around the house on Orchard Street. He said he picked up his cooking skills from his Polish grandmother.
Field went to Lynn public schools until he transferred to St. Mary’s High School ― mainly for the love of soccer, he said ― and graduated in 1994. After several semesters at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell for criminal justice, and Salem State College, where he decided to pursue a career in funeral service.
Field graduated from National Educational Institute for Funeral Service in New England (now the Funeral Institute of the Northeast). He is a funeral director at Solimine Funeral Homes, where he has been working for over 25 years.
David J Solimine Sr., founder and funeral director at Solimine Funeral Homes in Lynn, said that he has two signs in support of Field on his lawn facing in two directions.
“He is a joy to work with,” said Solimine. “He is so dependable and he is most considerate of everybody we serve.”
“It’s a job I love and I think being a councilor, too, is very similar to being a funeral director because you are always serving families and it is not a nine-to-five job, it is 24/7,” said Field. “Every day of the week, every day of the year,”
He said if people reach out to him that means they trust him, and that he can help.
Field is married to Attorney Stefani M. (Messinger) Field and has three children. They reside in Ward 7 on Lois Lane. He is a parishioner of St. Pius V Church in Lynn.
“My faith has always been important to me,” said Field, who was an altar boy for almost 10 years at the former St. Michael’s Polish Catholic Church. “I felt bad telling the priest when I was a senior that I couldn’t be the altar boy anymore because I was going to college.”
Field started in local politics by volunteering and holding signs for various candidates. In 2015, he ran for an open seat for Ward 7 councilor but lost to his childhood friend John Walsh at a two-to-one ratio.
“That was hard,” Field said, but he believes that two years later Ward 7 carried him through in the 2017 elections for an open councilor at large seat.
When voting on the city council, Field said, he does his best to learn each time what it means to vote “yes” or “no,” and how it affects different people, many of whom he does not know personally.
“I always try to vote with my heart to try to help as many people as I can,” said Field. “Because there is a lot of power behind that vote and a lot of expectations.
“I like to take on the issues that affect everyone,” he added.
One of such issues is litter. Field co-chairs the Lynn Trash and Litter subcommittee with Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis.
“It (the city) doesn’t look that great all the time, we know it,” said Field.
He said they are making investments to make the city cleaner. This year, the subcommittee put some positions for the Department of Public Works’ budget specifically to tackle the litter problem, including investments into several pieces of new equipment. A new pilot program will better organize volunteers within the city to carry out park cleanups, for example, and allow high schoolers to sign up for community hours.
“I like working with the elderly,” Field said, who is also on the Housing and Elder Affairs committee.
Field also sits on the Public Property and Parks committee, and he is hopeful that a new senior center will happen soon with the new request for proposal (RFP) going out and the federal money coming into the city from the American Rescue Plan Act. Field said he has been working with the council on affordable housing for seniors, too, voting on a couple new projects including the former Union Hospital site and old Marshall Middle School.
“The seniors are the ones who started everything before and we need to stand up for them,” said Field.
Among recent responsible decisions of the council, Field named the new housing plan that is not a law, but provides councilors with a guide on how to protect people living in Lynn from displacement by working with landlords and developers.
Voting for a new diversity, equity and inclusion officer in Faustina Cuevas was one of the most rewarding votes that he took, said Field, because it recognized things that are not equitable across the city lines.
“People of color aren’t having the same access to opportunities. How do we grow that?” said Field.
Field understands that Lynn has been diverse for a long time, but it is different now from how it was when he was younger or when his parents or grandparents were younger.
“Now it’s become more worldwide,” said Field. “There are still communities that are finding their home here in Lynn like our grandparents did. And it is what is unique about the city.
“It’s gonna take everyone to all work together to create the best for our city. I enjoy being a part of that.”
Field said that the city should encourage more people of color to apply to be police officers, teachers, or City Hall workers. Youth can be encouraged while they are in high school that law enforcement is a good career, but also believes in community policing which includes trained professionals in mental health and drug counseling. He noted that the latter initiative should be financed separately from law enforcement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the front the issues that need to be addressed in the city, Field said, like food insecurity or old, crumbling schools that didn’t meet air-quality demands during the pandemic.
He said that the City Council can not increase the budget, but they have to work well with the mayor and state and federal delegations by putting together plans and qualifying for available grants.
Field prides himself on being a part of the City Council when the city was able to overcome its budget deficit over the last three years and a half. Field said that they had to vote for a $90 trash fee, but they avoided a $270 fee that could have been imposed by the state otherwise as well as to avoid having a state overseer who would have conducted an audit and revised union contracts.
“That was a key piece ― responsibly working together to minimize and effectively get us out of the situation that we were in,” said Field.
Now that the city is recovering from that deficit, the city’s bond rating has improved and the city is more stable financially, the City Council can move forward with long-term projects, said Field. These plans will include replacing schools, improving infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, and parks.
“There is so much work that is going to be done over the next decade. At 45 years old, I am hoping to be part of it because I know what Lynn was like back in the day, I know what it is like now, and I know where I hope it to be in the future. And I want to be part of it,” said Field.
Alena Kuzub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.