Methuen Mayor Steve Zanni was re-elected to his third and final term last month. Methuen has a charter provision that limits the consecutive terms a mayor can serve to three. Mayor’s serve for two years. Mayor Zanni was first elected to the Methuen School committee and then the city council before being chosen to be the city’s mayor. We caught up to Mayor Zanni after his election win and asked him what his priorities would be for the next two years of his final term in office.
“Tom, I think one of the first things that we are looking at is, number one, looking at downtown. There’s been a lot of studies done over the years where nothing has happened to improve downtown. We are getting ready to put a plan in place, looking at changing the landscape of downtown with a couple of big companies looking to invest some money into that area.
Secondly: I definitely think Forest Lake is a priority as I told you before. It’s a jewel in our community. It hasn’t been touched for 60 or 70 years.
The third thing I’m looking to do is bringing in the new businesses and supporting the businesses that we are bringing in by giving Tiffs. Tiffs are tax incentives for businesses. What that means is, in the first year a business pays no taxes. Then they have a sliding scale for the next nine years where the taxes gradually go up to where they need to be. That way they invest in the city instead of going out-of-state or to another community.
So, you give them the tax incentive the first year and there’s no tax, but eventually they catch up to where they need to be. We also want to focus on businesses that are already here.
We have companies like Century Box, which we gave a tax incentive to. They now have expanded their facility and a hundred brand-new jobs have been created.
So we have three businesses we are doing that with now… that combined brought over 200 jobs to the community. And that is going to help our community long-term as well. Those are the things that I’m focusing on in my last two years as mayor. Hopefully working with the council and keeping them informed and getting the support on my major initiatives will make that easier.
What about your future, you must be thinking of what to do after you leave the mayor’s office?
“I haven’t thought about it at this point, Tommy, honestly. A lot of people have been asking me, and I’ve been contacted by some people about it, but right now I’m focusing on my position as mayor. I want to start the New Year off with the inauguration in the new Performing Arts Center on January 3rd and that’s what I want to focus on now. We will see what the future holds for me, I don’t know what the future holds. If it looks like there’s something out there that I can be of help with, I will do that. If not, this will finish my career in politics. As you know, I’ve been in elected life for about 12 years between the council, the school committee, and being mayor. It’s been a great run for 12 years. I appreciate the people have given a vote of confidence in me but more importantly, I think people feel good about what we’ve accomplished.”
Do you have any thoughts on the low voter turnout?
“There are two schools of thought on this. I was talking to Billy Fitzgerald at Mann’s Orchard about this today. It’s one of two things: either people feel things are going very well in Methuen, or people feel as though they just don’t have the time to vote with their busy lives. It’s too bad we had such a low turnout. In a lot of countries you can’t vote. In most countries you don’t have this freedom. So, a low turnout is always disappointing, but I do think most people are very pleased with what we are doing and the direction of Methuen.”