“Somerville stands out from the crowd because we innovate. We stand out because we are striving to take control of our destiny. We do it bigger. We do it better. We do it smarter. Most of all we never forget that we’re supposed to have each other’s backs when change happens. We’re in this together.”
Mayor Joe Curtatone, January 4, 2016
Joe Curtatone has spent his life working with his neighbors to improve life in Somerville. From his days as an attorney in private practice, to his eight years on the Board of Alderman and 13 years as Mayor, Joe has always been committed to creating opportunities for everyone in Somerville.
Joe was born and raised in Somerville, one of three children of Maria and Cosmo, Italian immigrants, who like so many before and since came to Somerville to give their children a better life. Both of Joe’s parents worked in factories, and had second jobs, with Cosmo cutting hair and driving a snow plow, and Maria working as a cook. Without a college education, they raised three children and sent them to college. Joe grew up in a vibrant immigrant community that helped raise Joe and his siblings, and public schools that gave him the tools to go on and succeed in college and law school. That success is a legacy that Joe has fought to pass on by making sure that Somerville continues to be a city where immigrant families have a chance to grab hold of the American dream and succeed.
When Joe became Mayor in 2004, Somerville was facing a fiscal crisis, rising violence, and an uncertain future. To solve these challenges, Joe reached out to folks in Somerville and across the country for good ideas to get Somerville moving again. He adopted Baltimore’s CitiSTAT program, and brought an ethos of better management through measurement into City Hall. SomerStat, the program Joe started, now brings officials from across Massachusetts and the world to Somerville to find out how to create a culture of results around urban data collection and analysis. Starting from that point, Joe improved how Somerville interacted with and served its residents, implementing innovative solutions to chronic problems and in the process making the city a national leader in areas as diverse as affordable housing, public education, and public health. Joe showed that a small city can deliver improving city services and expanding economic opportunities for its residents when armed with the right data, and working with folks from all walks of life.
Joe has never stopped looking for new ways to expand opportunity in Somerville. Under Joe’s leadership, Somerville has developed and implemented a comprehensive, progressive police reform agenda that made hard but important changes to how the Somerville police department works, from patrolmen on the beat all the way up to how the Chief of Police is hired. Joe has kept Somerville a leader in welcoming immigrants to the US as well, working against the forces that would divide and destroy the community we’ve built.
Somerville has become one of the most influential cities in the country because of the hard work of its diverse residents, activists, and elected officials. You can read more about the innovative policies and actions that neighborhoods and activists together with elected officials have been taken over the last 30 years, and about plans for the future, from the Green Line Extension to new ways to improve Somerville’s public education. You can also check out upcoming events, stay in touch by signing up for our email list, and volunteer to get involved.