This fall, Lynners will head to the polls in order to elect city officials in the municipal election. A major election on this year's ballot is the mayoral race. Currently, three candidates are running for the position making the September primary more important than in a typical year given that only two candidates will move forward to the November general election.
School Committee member Jared Nicholson is one of three candidates running for Mayor this year. Nicholson received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard University. Previously employed at Northeast Legal Aid and as an associate at Latham & Watkins, he now serves as a professor and the Director of the Community Business Clinic at Northeastern University.
Nicholson responded to a few questions regarding his candidacy for Mayor and his vision for the city.
Thanks for chatting with me, Jared! You’ve served on the Lynn School Committee since 2016; why did you make the decision to run for Mayor this year?
Thank you for this opportunity! As I reflected on the challenges of the last year, with the pandemic and all that’s happened – the work we’ve done on the School Committee dealing with the serious ramifications of the pandemic for education, the work my wife has done as a frontline healthcare worker at the hospital, the work I’ve done as a professor at Northeastern running a legal clinic helping small businesses stay afloat during COVID, I felt like I was ready to step up as Mayor and provide the kind of leadership we need in this important moment for the city.
We need to recover fully and fairly from the pandemic. We also need to take advantage of the opportunity that Lynn has for growth by putting our best foot forward. And we need to do it in a way that’s inclusive, that benefits the whole city.
I felt like I had the vision, experience, and energy that the next Mayor is going to need to be able to do that.
Obviously, the pandemic has been a major issue globally but specifically in the City of Lynn where over 17,000 residents have been diagnosed with the virus. If elected Mayor, what would be your first steps in terms of helping Lynn through the recovery process?
First, we need to continue to monitor and address the current public health situation. That means keeping track of what’s happening with any variants and continuing to advance the vaccination effort.
Second, we should reflect on lessons learned from the pandemic to improve our public health approaches for the future.
Third, we need to create opportunities to make up for lost learning and social-emotional development from students being out of school.
Finally, we need to continue to work with our small businesses to make sure that they can recover and return successfully.
Another big issue is housing. What would be your approach to balancing the need for new development with also ensuring that current low income residents are not negatively impacted by increasing rents or displacement?
One of the core themes of my campaign is that Lynn has an opportunity for growth, but in order for that growth to be meaningful, it needs to be inclusive. That means including low-income and working class Lynn residents and families. Housing is a huge part of that inclusion.
I have served on the Steering Committee of the Housing Lynn plan that’s currently pending before the Lynn City Council and Planning Board and I strongly support its adoption. We need to support smart growth that’s inclusive and sustainable, protect renters from bad conditions in the existing housing stock, and make space for Lynners in new housing stock.
Lynn is a diverse city but for some it may feel as though there is not a diversity in voices in the city’s decision-making processes. What are your thoughts on how Lynn can better address the ‘I’ in DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) in its governance but also more generally?
Lynn can better address “Inclusion” in its governance, but also more generally, first by addressing access, transparency, and representation. Communication, access, and transparency can’t just mean making information available. It has to mean getting the information into the hands of the people who need it.
First, in a multilingual community, language access needs to sit side-by-side with everything we do. That requires more investment in translation and interpretation.
Second, in a digital world, technology access and fluency have to be universal. We need systems that enable and encourage that, including an overhaul of the City’s presence online. The City’s website is our digital presence in the community just like City Hall is our physical presence. It needs to be more dynamic and accessible to reach its potential as a community resource.
Finally, the City now has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, which I strongly support. I would work with that person, the City’s Personnel Director, and other stakeholders, to come up with a plan to help make sure City Hall reflects the diversity of the City. One important next step from the Housing Lynn plan is for the city to make a public commitment to show that diverse hiring is a priority, including using metrics and timelines.
Growing up in the Highlands during the 90’s was wonderful for me because of the community/neighborhood feel that included block parties and haunted houses and a centralized hub in the Ford School. Strengthening connections between and among city residents is one way to increase Lynners’ pride and investment in the city. How do you envision the Mayoral role in terms of helping to facilitate the community’s connection to the city and each other?
The work towards addressing inclusion described above is a big part of that. Your mention of the centralized hub in the Ford School certainly shows how important a role the Lynn Public Schools can play in this work, for example, supporting community schools and students’ social-emotional development and needs outside the classroom, including more afterschool opportunities.
Another local resource that I think is sometimes overlooked in citywide conversations is the multiservice business. They provide needed services in areas such as immigration, tax, travel, translation, finance, and more. These businesses are an integral part of our community. They help organize flag days for their countries of origin at City Hall, sponsor community organizations, and anchor city storefronts.
Bringing multiservice businesses into the city’s conversations about community goals would significantly increase the City’s connection to different populations. It would also help answer questions people may have about when and how to use various resources for particular issues, like legal help or translation services.
Finally, what skills and experiences make you most suited for the role of Mayor? Why should Lynn residents consider your candidacy for the position this fall?
I'm running for Mayor because I believe I have the skills and experience to provide leadership for inclusive growth. To both create opportunities for growth and to make those opportunities inclusive.
I have deep experience on school issues from my work on the School Committee. I also have deep experience on city issues like housing and economic development through my work as a lawyer and a law professor.
I bring a fresh perspective based on that work as a professor and lawyer. I’ve worked with other cities on economic development. I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes from all over the world.
In addition to that fresh perspective, I also already have a record of delivering results right here in Lynn. For example, I've been proud to start a wrestling team in Lynn. I identified a valuable experience that was missing from the city and put together a team to make it happen and make a difference.
I also have a record of being there for people when they need it as someone who’s open, accessible, and dependable. I've done that time and time again in my role on the School Committee with parents, with teachers, with students. Particularly in working with families, my ability to speak Spanish has been helpful to be able to work directly with Spanish-speaking constituents.
In addition to the ability to deliver for people in the now, I’m also able to help us build towards a long-term vision of a better future. That vision is centered on inclusive growth.