My Thoughts on the 2013 Methuen City Election

Joe Leone
Joe Leone

By: Joe Leone – August, 2013

Like many of my fellow Methuen voters, I try to keep myself informed about issues that affect the community and my tax bill. What I’ve been hearing and reading over the last 18 months has not made me a very happy camper. Not much seemed to be getting done, not much progress had been made, and most of the city government seemed to be in “status quo” mode.

Two consecutive property tax increases didn’t help to erase the feeling that we were in a rut that was going to be hard to steer out of. My reaction of course, was to draw nomination papers for the upcoming mayoral election, since I have always subscribed to the old-fashioned notion that if I want something to be done right, I just have to do it myself. I figured that my 45 years worth of management skills were just what the city needed.

Of course, once I had the nomination papers in hand, I had to really take a hard look at the objectives I had and the path to obtaining those objectives. What’s really gone wrong since January, 2012? How does it get fixed? How long will it take? My heart kept saying, “go for it” while my head kept saying, “it’s not time yet”.

The now old news is that my head won out and I have decided not to run…this time. My reasoning is really quite simple and I can boil it down to a few basics:

I have always been in favor of a four-year term for the office of mayor. I can understand two-year terms for council and school committee, but the mayor is a different animal and should have the benefit of not having to be in “campaign mode” all the time.

Not much can be accomplished in the 20 months between the inauguration and the next campaign season. I sometimes feel that I’m the “smartest guy in the room”, but it’s usually true only when I’m the only guy in the room. I know darned well that I could not bail out this leaking boat in 20 months, so it is hypocritical of me to think Steve Zanni should pull it off.

When I look at the things I would try to accomplish, I keep thinking that “stopping the bleeding” is a good way to describe what needs to be done. Four words that no one likes to hear are the “tourniquet” we need…four simple words: Reorganization, Regionalization, Privatization, Consolidation. I realized that the mayor is really heading in the same general direction that I would head if I was elected, but since Massachusetts’ local governments move at a glacial pace, it will really take another term to get from Point A to Point B.

I am a member of the High School Building Committee and Vice-chairman of the Community Development Board, both volunteer positions.

Both bodies are in the middle of important projects and issues, and I have a responsibility to see things through to the end. I know Steve Zanni feels the same sense of responsibility to see the high school finished on time and under budget (both looking good at this point, by the way).

Finally, I already have a job. My work as a Project Manager for a large charitable foundation is quite satisfying and the projects I am currently managing for the foundation will likely not be finished until late next spring. I could not, in good conscience, leave the job half done and bolt out the door for the Mayor’s office.

So that’s it. I’m not running and I think Steve Zanni will make a great deal more progress in a second term. But who knows? I just might pop up on your ballot in November 2015.