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


20 Responses to “Letter to the Editor – October 16”

  1. Linda says:

    I’ll definitely be joining you, Amber!! All of my neighbors will be too!!

  2. Spencer says:

    Well said! Courtney rocks. So glad to have her representing Ward 5.

  3. Sarah says:

    A nice letter, and so true of Ms. O’Keefe. She is funny, personable, and most of all engaged in her community.

  4. Jennifer says:


    I couldn’t agree with you more! This is a beautiful letter for a deserving candidate!

  5. Mike says:

    This letter is spot on…

  6. Amber Rocks! says:

    Great letter Amber!! What type of business do you own?

  7. Jon says:

    And, Amber, as for those who gave you information about the other candidate, you may want to check those sources in the future. I know they all exaggerate, but geesh! I had a huge problem with him when he showed up for my sons’ high school graduation in a short-sleeved shirt, and wearing a baseball cap throughout the entire ceremony. Total lack of class.

  8. Jeff says:

    Great letter for a great candidate. Go Court!

  9. emir says:

    whatever did O’Keefe do on the human rights commission? check out when she was appointed, when they had quorum meetings, and when she got named as ald., which took her off the commission.

    A reporter on the other paper quoted her as informing him that the human rights commission had opened an investigation or submitted a complaint on her behalf because she said that someone had smeared her. That was false information, the commission didn’t even have any meetings on the matter, due to lack of quorum.
    If she didn’t intend the public to be misled she could have easily made sure that published information, which implied that the commission had acted formally on her behalf, was corrected.
    instead, looks like she used local media to spread rumors that aren’t true.

    the other candidate is at least as committed to the ward and the city, having served the community for alot of years on the school committee. He’s done other fine works throughout the community also-without blowing his horn and without calling on his buddies to knock on our online doors with all sorts of rhetoric and blarney.

    nor does he call speak out, or ask others to call speak out on his behalf, pretending that being president of some high school class and other meaningless “honors” make him qualified to lead, to serve, to make good decisions.

    your letter claims ” 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 really can’t.

    it’s just meaningless bombast.

    Makes perfect sense for Mr. Neidergang to walk away while you were talking with his political opponent. If this was an impartial letter, you wouldn’t need to add in such nonsense.

  10. Needlenose Niedergang says:

    Thank you for not mentioning my old man stink.

  11. Sounds like emir may be Mr. “N”, sour grapes.

    Courtney is definitely the best choice for Ward 5. Her dedication to the constituency speaks volumes for her great service in such a short time as alderman. It’s certainly refreshing to see someone who’s not in it for what they can get–she is a true woman of the people!

  12. Cidalia says:

    I have a lot of respect for Courtney, she has been there every time our neighbors need her. And having a small business , she has been a great help. Thank You Courtney.

  13. Darnell says:

    Courtney has worked hard and deserves to be elected-and she will be!!

  14. helen says:

    Emir, you are clueless. Mr. Niedergang has accomplished none of what he promised he would when he ran for School Committee. And as for his ‘other fine works throughout the community’, I wish you could name some. His past as a city employee is shady at best. Going door to door he has lied to constituents, usually about his opponent, or in order to convince them to put up one of his signs.

  15. Linda says:

    emir, your entire rant is so completely false it is pathetic. Get your facts before you write a comment.

  16. Barry the Pig says:

    Emir, I know who you are, you crawler! :)

  17. Carol says:

    As a proud ward 5 voter, I agree with Amber’s letter and not Ken Brociner’s. I would have put this on the Journal website but I don’t have face book.

  18. Chris says:

    I was going to write a letter in support of our wonderful Alderman, Courtney O’Keefe and all of the great things she’s done both in and out of office. Then I read Amber’s letter and she expresses everything I would have said. I have nothing against Mr. Niedergang, but I’ve never met the man and have never heard anything about him, good or bad. I’ve lived here for four years and never once ran across him. As all of you know, you can’t go more than a few days without seeing Courtney somewhere around town. She’s always positive, always supportive and always informative about what’s going on in the city. I’m proud to vote for Courtney O’Keefe for Ward 5 Alderman!

  19. Ron Newman says:

    While I appreciate the shout-out in this letter, I am not supporting either candidate in Ward 5. I think both of them are a substantial improvement over the recently resigned incumbent.

  20. Lars says:

    The more I read her quotes in the newspapers-the more I like her. It is pretty clear that her love for this ward is propelling her campaign. I would also like to point out that the recent column mentioned by another poster is written by a man who screamed and yelled at Courtney in city hall. What a real tough guy–screaming at a woman.

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