The Change We Seek: Getting Out the Vote for a New Tomorrow in a Not-so-Small City

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Yesterday, we were afforded the privilege to choose our elected officials in our city. The hotly contested Medford mayoral race saw our current mayor, a protege of the last who held office for 30 years, ousted. To her detriment, her close affiliation with the prior regime was her downfall. Lack of transparency, perceived poor management of city services, and a recently exposed police scandal overshadowed her campaign, despite the fact that her leadership was instrumental in the construction of a new police station and a new library. Her opponent, a 30-something lawyer, whose sister was a classmate of my daughter in grammar school, ran a solid campaign, garnering the vote of the young and those who wanted change. 

It was encouraging to see the outpouring of support and interest in the candidacy of this current city councillor but relative newcomer in the political arena. Young parents, who have chosen Medford to raise their families, shared opinions openly about the prospect of a new way of doing things. This is a marked change from the usual response I get when I ask my own children about current events: “I don’t pay attention to politics.”

When it came to casting my vote, I was torn. I could see the merits of both candidates. I weighed out the prospects: status quo or a fresh outlook. As someone who often refers to the local state of affairs in the city as “low standards”, I guess the status quo isn’t working.  But I was unsure about the young prospect whose performance in the mayoral debate was, as someone described to me, “unimpressive”. My apolitical daughter, who is generally allergic to local and national politics, was a proponent of the candidacy of the younger candidate, was enthusiastically persuasive, and unusually committed to voting for her. She is the face of a new Medford and maybe it is time. I entered the polling booth unsure and uncommitted, with all of these thoughts in my mind. And for some reason, I voted on the side of “status quo.”

In the end, youth won out over political connectedness, possibly to our advantage. We have a new mayor on whom a city now pins its hopes for a new day and a new way of doing things. Our city, just five miles out of Boston, is a prime location for a lifestyle that should be sought after; yet, our schools are not quite where they should be, city services are spotty, and our image when compared to the profiles of the rest of Greater Boston make us of the poor relation who shows up to the wedding with white socks on when we should be front and center. We allow a blind pride to drive our resistance to see our situation critically, a short sightedness about change,  and our “well, that’s the way it’s always been” attitude to dictate how we operate. We are stuck and our pride is counterproductive. Now may be our time to shine, to reinvent ourselves, and be a place of which we can be truly proud. 

I boast that six generations of my family have lived in Medford and our deep roots make me and my family unusual in this mobile society.  We have no plans to leave. Sadly, I would never publish this commentary in the local newspaper because of the backlash that I would receive. I know how this city works and this ousting of the sitting mayor, who enjoys a broad fan base due to her connections, would spark an attack that would be unmerciful. That’s Medford for ya!  It’s a culture that I understand but don’t always support. 

Now that the decision has been made, I am open and excited to see what lies ahead and hope that the change that the voters so desperately sought as they cast their ballots yesterday will come to fruition. It is an exciting time for our city and I look forward to the prospect of a new, revitalized Medford.

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