SAM HAMMAR listens to a resident.
During this election year, we will provide candidates the opportunity to explain their views on any issue facing Melrosians.
By SAM HAMMAR
Since announcing my run for mayor of Melrose on May 19, I have knocked on hundreds of doors, held over a dozen public conversations at our local coffee shops, attended neighbor-hosted house parties and countless community events. Talking with residents about our shared love for this special city has been invigorating and I am grateful for all who have taken the time to connect.
During this time, I have heard a lot from Melrose residents about what matters most to each of them. And while we have tremendous love for Melrose, we also have high expectations for city services and want to see Melrose reach our potential.
While I will continue to reach out to every voter across the city, I would love to share my thoughts about the three topics that come up most frequently: the city budget, our schools, and public safety buildings.
The City Budget – As you know, the City of Melrose is facing substantial budget challenges right now, including a $3 million shortfall in the school department budget. While we have experienced budget shortfalls in previous years, the magnitude of this issue is new. Fortunately, my background has prepared me for this. As Mayor, stabilizing the city’s budget will be my number one priority. I will be a hands-on mayor, leading weekly, internal budget meetings focused on creating budget controls in the school department and across the city that will flag increases in real time to eliminate surprises, lead an ongoing community dialogue about the city’s fiscal realities, and implement a five part plan to get us back on track.
Our Schools – The issues faced across our school district will not be solved quickly; they have built up over years, and were exacerbated during the pandemic. The way forward will require confident and bold leadership, reliable financial accounting, intensive strategic planning, and creative solutions for long-term problems. But most importantly, the way forward will require us to listen to our educators and believe in their experiences and ideas. As a Boston Public High School teacher, I learned the importance of strong relationships between educators, administration, and families. In Melrose, it is critical that we rebuild trust across our school community. To do this we must: stabilize our district leadership and budget, rebuild our relationship with our educators and provide the support and resources they need to do their jobs, and embrace families as our partners in education. We all want great schools for every Melrose student. If we can leverage this shared commitment to our schools, we can finally make progress and become the adaptive and effective school district we can be.
Public Safety – Through my conversations with hundreds of Melrose voters over the last several months, it is clear to me that there is strong community support for addressing our outdated public safety buildings. Fortunately, the Public Safety Building Committee, a group of professionals including both our police and fire chiefs, rank and file public safety officers, city department heads, and residents with relevant expertise, has recently released a comprehensive report and roadmap for modernizing our four public safety facilities. Because this project would include renovation and construction of four essential buildings, it would have to be funded by a debt exclusion, which requires a community vote. I fully support the plan put forward by this thoughtful, experienced, and dedicated committee. It is possible that the current administration and city council could vote to place this on the November ballot. Should that happen, it is my hope that they will use the committee’s recommended proposal and place their trust in the voters. Our public safety officials deserve no less.
But the real question is, how will we get all of this done in Melrose? Melrose is in need of new leadership. We can not continue the business as usual practices that are leaving our city behind. As someone with 20 years of experience in state and local government, I understand the importance of good management and the real-life impact of government policy. Throughout my career I have: managed teams of experts to deliver innovative public services; helped deploy multi-million dollar bonds across state-wide departments to maximize the investment of public dollars; and engaged teams of employees and constituents in the success of local government. In addition to these hard skills needed to run any city, I will bring a unique approach to City Hall. I am an innovative problem solver, community organizer, master communicator, and a die-hard Melrosian who will fight for every resident to stay and thrive within the 4-square miles of our city.
Melrose has so much potential. It’s time I turn my experience, commitment, and belief in great local government toward my hometown and that’s why I am running for Mayor. Let’s make Melrose city government what we need it to be and finally meet our potential. It starts with your vote on September 19.
If we’re together today, we’re stronger tomorrow. Learn more at SamforMelrose.com.