Why I want to be Mayor: A Vision for Lowell

As I’m sure most people are aware, I have decided to seek the office of Mayor of the City of Lowell. In the weeks following the election, I have had engaging and rewarding conversations with each of the other eight individuals who will serve on the 2018-2019 Lowell City Council, in which I shared with them my vision for the City of Lowell. Although the decision of who will be mayor belongs to the councilors alone, once elected, the impact of that decision affects all of the residents of the city. That is why I wanted to take this opportunity to share my reasons for seeking this office publicly with the people of Lowell.

I am pursuing the mayorship not because I wish to receive a title, but because I sincerely desire to do the job. In my statement two years ago pledging my support to Mayor Edward Kennedy, I spoke of the importance of shared responsibility and leadership. I have always rejected the idea of the mayor’s office as one of purely ceremony, it is actually an integral position of civic leadership in the Plan E system. Mayor Kennedy certainly demonstrated those qualities during his term in office. If it weren’t for his leadership to ensure the people’s voices were heard on the future of Lowell High School, we would be in a very different situation today. As I stated two years ago, I do believe the revolving chairmanship is a key characteristic of professional Plan E government. Mayor Kennedy’s leadership made a difference, and if I am giving the opportunity to serve as mayor, I would seek to follow in his example on Lowell High School, rather than taking any steps backward to reassess.

That obviously brings us to the Lowell High School issue. Over the months since I first shared my position and throughout my conversations with the eight future councilors, I have been consistent. I 100% unequivocally support Downtown Option 3. That was my position in June ahead of the council vote, and I laid out my thinking in further detail at the time. The events that have transpired since then have only strengthened my resolve that Downtown Option 3 is the only option we should be considering. The November 7th ballot question was not merely a referendum on rejecting the Cawley site, it asked the voters to positively affirm support for a rebuild and expansion of the existing Lowell High School campus. The voters overwhelmingly supported keeping the high school where it is. Now as city councilors we need to deliver to our residents the best quality high school in the location that they chose. That is Option 3.

As the mayor, I would push to have a vote affirming the choice of Option 3 at the very start of the term by both the city council and the school committee. This combined with the overwhelming results of the ballot question would show the MSBA that the city has reached consensus and is ready to move forward with Option 3.

Obviously, it is the importance of the high school issue and because of my experience as the former headmaster of Lowell High School that I chose to seek the office of mayor at this time. I feel my background and experience as a teacher and administrator will be an important resource as we move from the location debate to the design and implementation stage. One idea I have shared with my fellow councilors is the creation of a qualified professional Clerk of the Works who would work with the city council and the project management team in ensuring the project is done in a safe and cost-effective way.
The High School and education in more broad sense will undoubtedly remain the most important issue over the next two years. However, at the same time, we must ensure that economic development and public safety remain a priority and that we continue to enhance the quality of life of our residents.

As a city councilor for the past four years, I have seen that much of the most important work city councilors do is through the subcommittee process. With that experience in mind, as mayor, I would propose the establishment of several new subcommittees to meet the evolving needs of our community.
First, I would propose the creation of a dedicated subcommittee on the Lowell High School project to ensure that all the goals of that project are met (i.e. construction timelines and education quality). Next would be a subcommittee on senior citizen issues to ensure that some of our most vulnerable citizens have a voice in this administration. Likewise, we need to also establish a subcommittee to deal with issues related to nonprofit organizations. In order for Lowell to thrive we need ongoing constructive communication between the city and these important partners.

On a similar note, I would like to see the full implementation of the Diversity Council concept that I proposed during the last term. This effort is also important in the context of the ongoing discussion of a potential change to Lowell’s voting system. Government works best when it is reflective of the people it serves. As the mayor I would be fully committed to seeing that vision realized.

All of these policy proposals are just part of the broader vision for the City of Lowell I would work to see achieved over the next two years. It is to be a city that is inclusive at every level of government. It is to be a city that continues the successful model of partnerships between public and private entities—including our important nonprofit and higher education collaborators. It is to be a city that is transparent in its decision-making and responsive to the needs and desires of the people it serves.

It has been my honor to serve the City of Lowell as a teacher, headmaster, and now a city councilor. If given the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Lowell, my unique background would allow me to utilize the experiences and lessons learned over a lifetime of public service to lead this city at a very important juncture for the future of not only Lowell High School but the entire City of Lowell.

-City Councilor William Samaras

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