I am frequently asked "what are the differences between you and the mayor?" The answer is that there are many differences, including very important ones, such as leadership style, managerial and budget experience and our priorities for Medford. Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the campaign trail and my answers. We will continue to update these as the campaign continues. Thanks for stopping by and if you have a question, please contact me at falcoformayor@gmail.com

What is Medford’s plan to spend its $48 million share of funding from ARPA and do you agree with it?

Medford does not have a plan. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law in March 2021 and other cities, like Malden, shared their plans in May, solicited community feedback, and have started to fund critical projects. Seven months later, Medford has not made any progress because the current mayor is distracted by dysfunction and not working for the taxpayers and prioritizing their needs. We have had no Chief Financial Officer for the last 4 months to manage this process. The mayor is not ready to wisely utilize this once-in-a-lifetime infusion of dollars. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have more than 25 years of public and private financial and managerial leadership and experience with creating, operating, and managing multi-million dollar budgets. On day one I will form a diverse and engaged ARPA Advisory Board to orderly and transparently gather community input and publicly make recommendations on spending. We will do this swiftly and decidedly. 

 

ARPA is a lifeline to communities, including Medford, to address the catastrophic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Spending can be used for public health and frontline workers’ pay, mental health services, economic recovery for small businesses, infrastructure including roads and open spaces, public safety efforts and improvements, and education and school services. 

 

The needs of Medford can’t wait. This moment is too important and I am ready to lead Medford through it.

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John, why are you seeking elected office?

Medford deserves a decisive mayor to lead this city into the future. A mayor who will be a leader for all the people of Medford, new residents, and long-time residents alike.

 

With twenty-five years of experience in the financial and accounting sector and more than a decade on the city council and school committee, I am a leader who understands the critical issues facing our city. I recognize the potential of our beloved city, as well as the strength our diversity offers. I know we can do better together. 

 

Our current mayor has stymied progress in our city with an indecisive and divisive leadership style. What Medford needs now is proactive leadership. As your mayor, I will provide Medford voters a vision of where the city should be going while also effectively managing the day-to-day issues that impact our quality of life, such as education, public works, and the city budget.

What are the critical differences between
you and the current mayor?

There are several critical differences between the current mayor and me, but I will focus on three- professionalism, management and leadership skills, and decision-making competency.

 

As the saying goes, "Professionalism is not the job you do; it's how you do the job." My competency, conscientiousness, and integrity have prepared me to lead as Mayor on Day One. Through my service as a school committee member and city councilor, I have garnered the respect of thousands of people in this community who know my character, strong work ethic, and ability to create change. It didn’t happen overnight. It was earned by making good on promises, listening to other points of view, and being willing to discuss our differences in a respectful manner.

 

My management and leadership skills better qualify me to serve as Medford’s mayor. For more than 30 years, I have not only supervised and managed individuals but built teams who were committed to improving the lives of those we worked for. In 2012, I received an award at work acknowledging my demonstrated ability to create and foster healthy work environments. I mention this to illustrate that when I say I will be the mayor who embodies collaboration, communication, respect, understanding, and appreciation of others, I am not paying lip service. I have built my entire career on these tenets. It’s time to fix the damage that has been done at City Hall so we can move Medford forward.

 

I have never been afraid to make tough decisions or to advocate for what is right. When the VFW refused to take down the All Lives Matter banner that was a source of voter intimidation, I led the charge to move the polling location. When municipal aggregation originally came before the council, and both the mayor and I were members, I was the only one to support it. When the Columbus School name change came before the school committee, the mayor voiced her opposition but voted for it. True leaders do not sit on the fence. Doing so demonstrates an inability to act, a failure to make tough decisions, and a willingness to vote against what one believes, in fear of losing votes.

What is the single most pressing
issue about this election? 

Lack of leadership.

 

The importance of City Hall and what is happening within those walls cannot be ignored. It is the center of city government. As Mayor, I will provide leadership that listens, inspires, motivates, and gives a direction and common goals to aspire to for the betterment of the Medford community. 

 

The current mayor has repeatedly proven her inability, unwillingness, and disinterest in leading Medford. Employee turnover at City Hall is high as claims of harassment, racism, sexism, discrimination, and wage theft by the mayor and members of her administration continue. This not only puts a stain on the integrity of our entire community but has costly fiscal ramifications. We are now in our third month without a Chief Financial Officer and Auditor which has hampered the marijuana dispensary process and leaves us in a less than ideal position as the city plans how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

 

A few weeks ago, the mayor’s handpicked Chief of Staff (COS) announced his resignation. In her press release, the mayor names the interim COS who is “in charge of all City operations,” leading many to ask, isn’t that the mayor’s job? During a recent committee of the whole meeting, however, the mayor could not answer simple questions like “is there a hiring freeze” and “who do department heads report to.”  

How has the mayor failed the community?

The current mayor has failed the community in numerous ways.

Cultivating a hostile work environment

Serious allegations of financial malfeasance, gross mismanagement, racism, sexism, discrimination, wage theft, and ongoing harassment by the mayor and her administration are deeply troubling. This behavior is completely unacceptable at any workplace, let alone in the halls of City government.

 

Financial concerns

The CFO/Auditor who quit three months ago over claims that she was discriminated against has not been replaced. This has stalled the marijuana dispensary process, resulting in lost revenue, and leaves us in a less than ideal position as the city plans to spend millions of taxpayer dollars received from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

 

The mayor has spent thousands of dollars on contractors and consultants. From mowing the grass at our parks to retaining legal services, our city is growing more dependent on outside consultants. These line items have increased year after year with no end in sight. 

 

Poor management by the mayor has resulted in the loss of revenue. For example, there have not been weights and measures inspections during the mayor’s tenure, which has resulted in severe concerns that consumers are paying more than they should at gas stations and supermarkets.

 

Moving backward

The mayor eliminated the standalone Energy and Environment office that existed for years, signaling a weak commitment to climate change initiatives. A standalone Energy and Environment office would give us more bandwidth to identify and apply for much-needed grants while making any grant proposals more competitive. The mayor also refused to support municipal aggregation when it first came to the city council.

 

The mayor merged the existing Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) department with Human Resources (HR), reducing people power and hours dedicated to D&I initiatives. If we are truly striving to be the most inclusive organization possible, we must prioritize D&I. Anything other than a standalone HR department and a standalone D&I department is failing our employees and our community.

 

On the school side, the mayor appointed an all-white slate for the Medford High School Vision Committee in March of 2020 failing to adhere to guidelines established in the city’s by-laws. More upsetting, however, is that the Mayor’s failure to be transparent in this process effectively bypassed any opportunity for minority representation even though almost 40% of students at MHS are Persons of Color. This is another example of why D&I initiatives need to be expanded and supported throughout our entire community.

 

Charter Review

The mayor broke her campaign promise to send a Home Rule Petition to the Legislature to establish a Charter Review commission within 60 days of her 2020 inauguration. Instead, it took her nine months to submit the one-page Charter Review document to the council which passed on September 22. The mayor held onto the document and did not send it to the State House until January of 2021.

The mayor’s failure to keep this campaign promise signals her weak commitment to the Charter Review process.

 

Transparency

The mayor took almost a year to finally disclose precisely how much taxpayer money had been spent outsourcing our law department to KP Law. She stated publicly that she did not have a role in selecting the independent investigator to handle claims against her and her administration regarding creating a hostile work environment. City Solicitor Kim Scanlon stated the mayor did pick her investigator. 

 

The mayor authorized more than $600,000 for 11 new positions in the FY22 budget that have not been approved and classified by the council as required by city ordinances. The mayor has a troubling history of increasing the salaries of inner circle employees without seeking council approval as required by our local ordinances. This flagrant disregard for our local ordinances and taxpayer dollars abuses power and creates a lack of transparency. 

 

Housing

The mayor has spent more than $100,000 in legal fees to keep 40B developments out of our community. This has resulted in a lack of needed affordable housing and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue from permitting fees and taxes.  

 

COVID-19 management shortcomings

See the next question below.

What do you think of the mayor's response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What would you have done differently?

I am grateful for the community partners who helped immensely during the pandemic. The Malden YMCA, in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, was quick to provide free meals throughout Medford. My family and I volunteered at the Haines Square location and distributed meals to hundreds of families. Food insecurity in Medford is a dire problem, and we need to do more. Tufts University also provided in-school COVID-19 testing for students and staff. This mitigation strategy was instrumental in keeping school communities healthy by quickly identifying asymptomatic spread. I will forever be grateful for these organizations and the services they provided.

 

More than 34% of Medford’s students are economically disadvantaged and eligible for free or reduced lunch. Countless students benefit from care from our incredible school counseling and nursing departments. Our staff, faculty, and administrators are among the best in the country and support the educational and social-emotional needs of students. Our buildings are more than just schools. They are safe havens for countless children in Medford. 

 

Despite this critical need for our schools to be open, they remained closed due to the failure of the mayor to lead. As early as April 2020, DESE and the CDC announced that adequate air ventilation was vital in providing healthy environments and urged schools to take the necessary steps to ensure student and staff safety. That warning was not heeded at MPS until mid-July when the first call to an air quality ventilation company was made. Ventilation studies did not start until September forcing some students to remain at home well into December of 2020. This total failure of leadership had severe, potentially life-long, ramifications for every student across the district and is entirely inexcusable.

 

With more than 58,000 residents and a higher-than-average positivity rate, Medford did not have a free, walk-in, dedicated COVID-19 Stop the Spread test site. One of these sites would have helped address our health care inadequacies, slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and provide better health outcomes. Our mayor should have led the charge in making this a reality. 

 

If I were mayor, I would have heeded the directives from the CDC and DESE, like other communities did, to ensure that the air ventilation testing process began immediately to give families the choice of sending their children to school on day one. I also would have been transparent about the testing process and made the results public when the reports were issued. To get these reports public, I had to make a motion on the chamber floor. I also felt general communication to the public was lacking since there was no platform provided for two-way conversations. Instead, residents were being talked to. There was no Zoom call or dial-in community media programming. 

 

There are three steadfast mitigation tools to slow and eliminate the risk of COVID-19: testing, ventilation, and education. A lack of leadership caused us to fail in all three areas.

 

I wish I could say that things have improved, but as we are amid the Delta variant upswing, the mayor was slow to put an in-school mask mandate. Recently, numerous pictures of the mayor without wearing a mask in various parts of the McGlynn Elementary School on 8/29/21 were posted on social media. Leaders also need to be role models for the mandates they put into place, and her blatant disregard for her own mandate is disappointing. Our vaccination rate is high (thank you, Medford Board of Health!), but our case count grows. We need to hear the mayor’s plans for vaccination requirements for city employees.

What issues define your campaign?

I am running for Mayor because I believe we can and must do better. 

 

I will work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all residents of Medford through collaboration, dialogue, honesty, and professionalism. The challenges that we face are many, but we can meet them head-on with visionary leadership.

 

As Mayor, I will be committed to:

  • Being a catalyst for change in our schools by understanding and promoting the interests and needs of our students, their families, and educators.

  • Crafting and implementing a plan to improve our infrastructure by repairing our badly neglected streets, sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds and removing double telephone poles and tree stumps.

  • Affirming Diversity & Inclusion with funding to ensure the voices of our 58,000 residents, 4,000 students, and over 1,000 employees are celebrated.

  • Expanding efforts to provide Affordable Housing. My resolution for the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust is one step in addressing this critical need. As your Mayor, I will work to bring this total effort circle. 

  • Expanding “Go Green” Medford initiatives to lessen environmental impacts, lower energy consumption, reduce waste, and expand our tree canopy. 

  • Better networking among businesses, the arts community, and City Hall to foster economic growth, stabilize the tax base, and improve our squares to unlock Medford’s vast potential.

What accomplishments would you cite as evidence you are ready to be Mayor?

I served on the Medford School Committee from 2010 - 2015 and the Medford City Council from 2016 - present. During this time, I have learned a great deal about our school system and how the city government functions as a whole. With more than twenty-five years of managerial, accounting, and financial leadership and over a decade in city government, I am a leader who understands the critical issues facing our city. My professional background and experiences in city government have positioned me well to serve as Mayor.

Some of my accomplishments while serving on the Medford City Council in which I am most proud include having successfully:

  • Led the effort to review our outdated zoning ordinances and led the overdue effort to codify zoning.

  • Advocated for the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust and led the effort to create the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.

  • Proposed the ordinance that banned plastic bags in Medford, supported every pro-environmental issue to come before me, and was the only councilor to initially support municipal aggregation in 2016.

  • Rejected the mayor’s proposal to combine the offices of Human Resources with Diversity and Inclusion. A stand-alone Diversity and Inclusion department is key to ensuring we not only hire a diverse workforce but are cultivating an environment of acceptance and appreciation for individuals of all backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. Leveraging diversity among staff members helps create programs and services that meet the diverse needs of our community.

  • Led the effort to hire a traffic engineer to address the city’s crippling traffic issues.

  • Proposed and advocated for purchasing legislative software that allows residents to watch all City Council meetings 24/7 via on-demand access that helped make government more transparent and accessible.

  • Advocated for improved public transit to reduce road congestion, travel times, air pollution, and energy and oil consumption.

Some of the accomplishments while serving on the Medford School Committee in which I am most proud include having successfully:

  • Expanded offerings at the Medford Vocational Technical High School to include key STEM areas of BioTech/Environmental, Robotics/Engineering, Business/Marketing, and Hospitality/Culinary.

  • Reinvest in school building infrastructure by successfully advocating for new science labs, the Field of Dreams, new technology, and refurbishment of the MHS swimming pool. 

  • Voted to create the before and after-school childcare programming in our elementary schools.

  • Championed a gender identity non-discrimination policy to protect and support our transgender and non-binary students.

  • Voted in support of the establishment of the CCSR and Global Scholars programs. 

What issues define your campaign?

As Mayor, I will put my experience to work for you as a diligent fiscal steward of the City.  I strongly believe that your taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely to deliver reliable and quality public services. 

 

I am a leader with a vision for and commitment to a better Medford that reinvests in our school buildings and educational infrastructure, has quality, affordable housing, a vibrant downtown with theatergoers, diners, and shoppers, support from City Hall for small businesses, the redevelopment of Medford Square and Mystic Avenue, and improved delivery of city services that add to our quality of life.  

 

You and I share a love for Medford. If you’re like me, you’re discouraged and probably embarrassed by the poor conditions of our streets, sidewalks, parks, and the general neglect of our squares. If you’re like me, you’re frustrated that Medford is running in place while cities around us, like Malden and Everett, are flourishing. You don’t need to accept the status quo because we can and must do better!

 

We need to strategically plan and be ready to act so Medford can optimize opportunities and live up to its enormous potential.  I pledge to be a thoughtful, inclusive leader who seeks to leverage all of Medford's potential for a bright future in our city.