Letter to the Editor – October 16

On October 16, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff  or publishers)

While I’ve live in Somerville for a while, I’ve never really found part of it that I’ve felt at home in.  I’ve lived in several different wards since I moved to Somerville in 2002, and I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a lot of its growth and evolution. I’ll admit my husband and I have fallen a bit in love with Ward 5 since moving here, its unique mix of single and multi-family homes, contrast of ages and ethnicities, and amazing potential going into the future. We love to walk through the Ward, see the progress on the community path, and watch the seasons pass. We also love to talk with people, and discuss what is going on in Somerville and hear their thoughts. This happens just about anywhere. Outside my business if I’m cleaning or working, while walking to and from Davis Square, if people are willing to strike up a chat, and in our many local restaurants and bars, if people are so inclined.

I’ve been struck with the people you meet everywhere in Somerville who love it dearly and work to promote it in their work and lives. Ron Newman, one of the main administrators on the Davis Square group on LiveJournal, always aware of breaking news or if you just want to know who the heck is firing of fireworks on a random evening. Holli Banks, who while running her business both benefits from, and helps Somerville businesses, can be simply found everywhere. She’s always ready with a smile, some conversation, and most likely some great news about a new business or venture happening in Somerville…and this is also how I met Courtney O’Keefe. She didn’t knock on my door, she sat on my porch and talked with me about my business, Somerville, what I want to see happening, and what I’d like to do to help it be the place it can be.

I see Courtney out running in the mornings, and I run into her at city board meetings and through her ward, not just door knocking, but attending events, observing public works projects, and responding to urgent issues (most recently house fire). This is the first time in all the Wards in Somerville I’ve lived in or worked in that I’ve seen my Alderman so much in my community.

Her website, and corresponding social media distribution  through Facebook and Twitter helps to keep me, a business owner in Ward 6 who also works a day job, informed of what is happening in my city when I cannot spare the time to attend meetings and peruse our local news sites for what is happening.

On the website of Mark Niedergang he writes about many things. I admire his past contributions to our city, and appreciate his views on the effects of the future green line development on our neighborhoods and housing. But this statement, on his welcome page caught me.

“If you live in Ward 5, I look forward to meeting you at your door or at a community meeting. I will be out Spring, Summer and Fall, knocking on doors all over Ward 5 to meet voters.”

The one time I have ever seen Mr. Niedergang, at my door or otherwise, was during a neighborhood block party this summer. He walked up to my porch, saw that I was conversing with his political opponent for Alderman, and walked away. Never to be seen again.

I’ve been told that he’s a great guy who has done much for the city. I’ve been told that his work on the school board has helped our city improve education and an increase in school enrollment. But I’ve had to be told all this, because he’s never told me, or shown me, unless I go to his website and look at it.

Courtney’s passion for Somerville and especially Ward 5 is apparent. She knows its residents, she knows the businesses past and present, and she has a knack for staying aware of the current infrastructure needs while having a vision into the future that includes both the residents of Somerville that make it so diverse today, and the new residents that our diversity and development are attracting, all while inviting the input of anyone she shares these thoughts with.

I could go on about her qualifications, her participation on the Human Rights Commission, and her pursuit of equal pay and affordable housing so that everyone can enjoy Somerville… but you can read those on her web site, just as you can read the qualifications of Mr. Niedergang on his.

The reason I am voting for Courtney O’Keefe is because she told me, and showed me, how much she loves Ward 5 and what she wants to do for it, not only in her words, but in her actions.  I’ve seen what she can do, and I like it, and I’d like to see it continue past this year.

I hope you’ll join me in voting for Courtney to continue in the role of Alderman for Ward 5.


– Amber Lee


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