John C. Falco, Jr.

General Questions

What is your vision for Medford?

When I first ran for City Council, I noticed that some people considered themselves “New Medford” while others “Old Medford.” It was then that I realized my goal for us is to be “One Medford.” We are a community of young families, long-time residents, new residents, college students, single people, millennials, and senior citizens to name a few. Each of us has an important voice to be heard and contribution to make towards Medford’s ongoing vitality. The foundation of my vision for Medford, and what I advocate for as your city councilor, includes what residents have expressed as their hopes for the future of our city.

Some of the priorities I have been working on, and will continue to, include the following.

Zoning:
Because of its proximity to Boston, Medford is a prime location. We need to stand up against developers who are only concerned about maximizing their profits without regard to our residents. I have always sought to protect the character and integrity of our neighborhoods from development that is burdensome and ill-planned.

In 2016, I offered a resolution that the city hire a zoning consultant because our zoning has not been reviewed in over 50 years. I am deeply committed to this process.

As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • Responsible and well-planned changes to our zoning ordinances.
  • Development of the Mystic Avenue Corridor (MAC) that is well thought out and involves all stake holders including neighbors, business owners, and community members. Any development on Mystic Avenue needs to address such concerns as traffic, pedestrian safety, green space, public transportation, public safety, infrastructure needs, and impact on the school system.
  • Zoning that is in the best interest of our residents and not those looking to make a quick profit at our expense. I am not afraid to stand alone against irresponsible development. I was the only city councilor to speak against the proposed Canal Street project at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

Economic Development:
Our local business districts consist of many small businesses that are the economic engine of our local economy. They create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and create the identity of Medford’s community.

As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • More resources in our Office of Community Development to support current and future business owners.
  • Improvements to our business districts to make them safer and more welcoming.
  • Beautifying our squares, including cleaner streets and working with out strong arts community to make Medford an inviting place to visit.
  • A review of our city ordinances to ensure that we are attracting and retaining the best stores and businesses.
  • The creation of walking paths and bicycle trails from Medford Square to the middle schools and Hormel Stadium.

In addition to all of the initiatives that I advocate for, I encourage residents to join me in shopping local. It could be B-boys at Jim’s Market, breakfast at Magnificent Muffin, ice cream at CB Scoops, dinner at Carroll’s, Raso’s, Salvatore’s, etc., or a quick trip to Modern Hardware. We are fortunate to have so many fine establishments in Medford and, as residents, we can help keep small businesses booming.

Financial and City Planning:
Financial and city planning is necessary to ensure that our city will be able to provide adequate services for present and future generations of Medford residents.

As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • Improved delivery of basic city services, such as street sweeping and clean parks.
  • Funding for a new Medford Fire Department Headquarters.
  • Completion of the new Medford Police Department Headquarters and Medford Public Library.
  • Additional resources, equipment, and staff to support and protect our police and fire departments, and public works employees.
  • A Master Plan that will position Medford to apply for local, state, and federal grants. A Master Plan will also help guide future development in Medford.
  • Monthly financial reporting to the City Council. As a member of the Medford School Committee, I successfully advocated for monthly financial reporting that enabled the committee to monitor spending.

Affordable Housing:
I was the chair of the subcommittee that created Medford’s first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that increased the required number of units that a developer must set aside as affordable units. While this is a concrete step, I feel that we need to do more. The creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which could provide financial support for rental, homeownership and mixed-use projects as well as housing for the disabled, is one idea that we need to pursue.

Making Government More Accessible:
As your city councilor, I will continue to be accessible by phone and email. My accessibility allows constituents to express their opinions and concerns. I have always maintained the utmost level of professionalism and respectability because I believe in the importance of civility in government.

As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • A full review of our City Charter.
  • Additional opportunities to improve civic engagement.
    • In 2016, I spearheaded the initiative to purchase legislative software that allows residents to watch all City Council meetings 24/7 via on demand access. Since its implementation in May 2019, all City Council budget meetings were available for viewing for the first time in the history of the city. An additional rollout to this software is the creation of an online central location that will house all agendas, meeting minutes, and other supporting documentation which will be coming soon.
    • I will continue to advocate that all Board and Commission meetings be available for streaming.

Protecting Our Neighborhoods:
As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • Improved infrastructure throughout our neighborhoods including streets, sidewalks, and bike paths.
  • Increasing our tree canopy and preserve existing trees throughout the city to protect our environment and improve our quality of life.
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and improved traffic patterns throughout the city by working with the traffic engineer.
  • The administration to work with local and state officials to reduce airplane noise.

Education:
As your city councilor, I will continue to advocate for:

  • Increased funding for capital improvements to benefit our schools.
  • Increased funding to support improvements in technology for all schools.
  • Small class sizes and additional funding for professional development.

What aspects of your time in office are you most proud of? What goals have you accomplished?

I am proud of my accomplishments that supported new infrastructure, created transparency, and addressed our outdated zoning and traffic needs.

As your city councilor, I:

  • Voted in support of building the new Medford Public Library and Medford Police Station. Voted in support of hiring the architect to design the new Medford Fire Department headquarters.
  • Proposed the purchase of legislative software that allows residents to watch all City Council meetings 24/7 via on demand access. Since its implementation in May 2019, all City Council budget meetings were available for viewing for the first time in the history of the city.
  • Successfully led the effort for the hiring of a traffic engineer to address the city’s crippling traffic issues.
  • Successfully began the dialogue of the need to review our outdated zoning ordinances through my resolution which sought to bring in an outside consulting firm to conduct a zoning needs analysis.
  • Successfully implemented neighborhood community police meetings to cultivate engagement in the interest of building stronger neighborhoods and community.
  • Successfully led the effort to establish the city’s first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
  • Successfully advocated for low class size, new programming at Medford Vocational Technical High School, purchasing of new technology, brand new science labs, and refurbishment of swimming pool.
  • Was originally the only city councilor to support Municipal Energy Aggregation.
  • Offered the resolution to create a Plastic Bag Ordinance.
  • Voted in favor of the LED streetlight update.
  • Developed an ad-hoc committee to proactively look at development of the Malden Hospital site to protect the North Medford neighborhood from over-development.
  • Worked with residents in the Lawrence Estates neighborhood to ensure their concerns were addressed by administrators of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
  • Proposed numerous crosswalks and stop signs and other traffic calming initiatives like solar powered stop signs in the interest of pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
  • Advocated to replace the gas mains in South Medford. Voted in favor of the Gas Ordinance.
  • Voted in favor of hiring a facilities manager.

Have your positions on any issues evolved since your election?

I wouldn’t say that my position has evolved on affordable housing, but I have given this issue a much higher priority than when I was first elected. Like many parents, I wonder where my three young sons will live when they are on their own. If they choose to be in Medford, it could be a financial burden that they cannot shoulder. Now more than ever, with the spike in rents and real estate prices, the lack of affordable units limits not just our children and grandchildren but all those that would consider calling Medford home.


Social Issues

Which social issues do you care about, and why? How would you advocate for those issues?

When I think about the wide array of social issues that affect our community, I feel most concerned with ones that can have a negative impact on our most vulnerable populations- our senior citizens and children. Some of my concerns include rising housing costs, access to healthcare, education, equality, and the environment.

Fortunately, as a member of the Medford City Council, I have been able to advocate for such issues. Some of my accomplishments include:

  • Leading the charge for the Municipal Aggregation Proposal.
  • Leading the effort for Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.
  • Offered the resolution to create a Plastic Bag Ordinance.
  • Advocated for smaller class sizes.
  • Strong advocate of the Gender Equity Ordinance.
  • Working with residents and hospital administration to ensure that the LMH campus still provide needed medical services.
  • Supported funding to hire a Recovery Coach to support residents and families with various issues relating to addiction and recovery.

What concrete steps can Medford make to address our environmental challenges, whether global or local?

I am proud to say that I was the only city councilor to support Municipal Energy Aggregation when it was first presented. In addition, I led to the charge for the Plastic Bag Ordinance and have supported other energy sustaining initiatives. These include the use of solar power at the Andrews Middle School and LED streetlights throughout our community. As a daily commuter and supporter of public transit, I fought against a reduction of bus services that was recently imposed and, thankfully, reversed.

Additional steps should be taken to increase funding to grow Medford’s tree canopy and require developers to add green space to future developments.

Medford is a diverse city with many marginalized communities. What initiatives would you implement to support these communities?

I proposed and implemented a plan that brought the monthly Medford Police Department’s Community Service meetings directly to our neighborhoods. These new neighborhood meetings, which were previously held at police headquarters, cultivate engagement between residents and the Medford Police Department by providing an opportunity for citizens to meet the men and women who patrol their neighborhoods. This type of community engagement promotes collaboration, which is a key component for strong and vibrant neighborhoods and our community as a whole.

Medford is fortunate to have many groups, like the Medford Family Network and the Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, that actively perform outreach to those in marginalized communities. Both as a member of the City Council and a community member, I have always supported efforts of such organizations both financially and through volunteering.

I am also an advocate for the Gender Equity Ordinance that is currently before the City Council.

 


Economic Issues

How will you address Medford’s affordable housing crisis?

I was the Chairperson of the subcommittee that created Medford’s first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that increased the required number of units that a developer must set aside as affordable units. While this is a concrete step, I feel that we need to do more. The creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which could provide financial support for rental, homeownership and mixed-use projects as well as housing for the disabled, is one idea that we need to pursue.

What are your long term plans for expanding tax revenue?

The Chevalier Theater has been instrumental in revitalizing Medford Square. Meals tax receipts have increased significantly over the last year. I supported the funding, through the CPA, to pay for air conditioning of the Chevalier Theater. Air conditioning will allow the theater to remain open over the summer which will bring diners and visitors to the square year-round.

A complete zoning review by a zoning consultant may provide opportunities to provide new types of businesses in Medford which could expand the tax revenue. For example, a zoning change could allow a hotel in a section of the city that might not be currently zoned for such use. Additional businesses create jobs and revenue.

Would you implement any changes around our city’s parking systems?

I am open to changes about our parking program. We need to balance the needs of our local retailers with the resources of the Medford Police Department along with what is fair and equitable to our residents. Medford is not alone in dealing with our parking issues. Our neighboring communities are dealing with this as well. The Chief of Police is reviewing a parking study that was performed in the South Medford and Hillside neighborhoods. Upon his recommendations, parking changes may be evaluated.

Some infrastructure challenges that face our city are degraded roads, lead pipes, and gas leaks. What initiatives would you implement to address these issues?

When I was on the School Committee, I proposed that the committee visit each school to better understand and prioritize what repairs and maintenance needed to be done. I propose that the DPW do the same regarding our streets and sidewalks so we can prioritize paving and sidewalk replacement needs. To be successful, the DPW needs additional employees and resources and I will continue to advocate for such.

The city should continue to work with National Grid to determine the age of our gas pipes and prioritize replacements, as needed.

We should work with the water department to assess what water pipes need repair or replacement. We should also work with the MWRA to promote the Lead Service Line replacement program they offer.

What do you think should be done with the Malden hospital site?

Medford owns a small portion of land on the Malden Hospital site and has valid concerns about future development. Medford residents who abut the hospital worry that development will cause problems regarding traffic, noise, air pollution, and other quality of life issues. I would like to see the area used predominately for green space and a small senior living and/or assisted living community.

I started the Malden Hospital sub-committee so we can monitor developments regarding the hospital site. Over the past year, we have worked with the Malden City Council and the Friends of Fellsmere Heights voicing our concerns about protecting the integrity of the North Medford neighborhood.

Now that Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, would you encourage dispensaries in Medford? What would you do with the revenue?

By law Medford is required to develop an ordinance regarding recreational marijuana which will include where dispensaries can be located. There has been a strong interest for dispensaries in Medford and we will follow state law regarding where they can be located. I would use revenue generated from marijuana sales for outreach and education to our children about the effects of marijuana.


Civic Issues

What is your vision for promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout in our city?

Since the implementation of the 24/7 on demand access to government meetings began, I have heard from many residents who say they watch the meetings now that they are more accessible. I will also continue to advocate for the posting of all city council and school committee documents online so that they are more accessible to everyone.

Medford needs to do a better job advertising elections. This could be accomplished by “A” frame (sandwich board) signs in front of all polling locations and government buildings weeks before the election, as well as more social media outreach

How can we increase citizen engagement in city council meetings?

As an elected official, I have always welcomed and encouraged residents to participate in City Council meetings. Not everyone can or wants to attend meetings, which is why I am accessible by phone, email or text so I can hear a resident’s concern and be his/her representative. Future rollout of additional capabilities of the legislative software will provide more information about happenings in city government which will hopefully spur more interest in City Council meetings.

What is your stance on city charter review?

Our City Charter has not been reviewed in over 30 years and I am a strong proponent of Charter Review. I voted in favor of Charter Review when it came before the City Council.