The Case Against Jack Connolly

by Matt Lavallee with Monica Achen and Bill Shelton

On November 5, former Alderman Jack Connolly will be on the ballot for Somerville City Councilor-At-Large once again, seeking to break his own record with a 17th term in office. His website touts his commitment to “positive progress in Somerville,” but Jack is no progressive. Here’s the truth about Jack’s record:

Jack Connolly has worked against affordable housing initiatives in Somerville;

He has championed big developers as they have ignored demands that they provide more community benefits in return for the privilege of building in our city;

Jack used racist rhetoric to win office in 2007, depicting a Latino opponent as sympathetic to criminal gangs.

The evidence:

  • In 2016, Jack opposed increasing Somerville’s affordable housing requirement for projects of 17 units or more from 12.5% to 20%. Here’s his editorial against it from the Boston Globe.
  • Jack vocally opposed the City’s proposed Real Estate Transfer fee, designed to reclaim a small portion of developer profits for the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and testified against it at public hearings. Here’s his editorial from the Somerville Times.
  • Jack supported waiving the 20% affordable housing requirement for the Assembly Square developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) — an exemption that many community members and almost the entire Board of Aldermen opposed. He had earlier introduced an amendment to the Somerville zoning code that would have exempted FRIT from any increase in affordable housing requirements for their housing developments in Assembly Square. Here’s the text of his proposed amendment.
  • Jack voted against 2014’s proposed “Pay-to-Play” ordinance that would have limited campaign donations from real estate developers looking to build in Somerville, and from City contractors. The ordinance was supported by seven Aldermen but vetoed by the Mayor. Jack supported the Mayor’s veto. Read about it as reported by Wicked Local Somerville, and not once but twice.
  • In March 2019, Jack editorialized in the Somerville Times against efforts to exact greater community benefits from the master developer of Union Square, Union Square Station Associates (US2). He warned of “the City Council hold[ing] the D.2 block hostage to exact additional Community Benefits” — the transfer of the D.2 parcel being the Union Square Neighborhood Council’s most powerful piece of leverage for negotiation. The City Council supported the negotiations by protecting the Council’s advantage — and Somerville received an outstanding package of community benefits. Jack would have handed the advantage to the developer.

Maybe Jack Connolly’s most outrageous act in his long political career isn’t carrying water for developers: In 2007, the last time he faced a single opponent head-to-head, Jack ran for Alderman-at-Large in a two-way special election against Marty Martinez, now Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston. Jack mailed to senior citizen voters a campaign flyer implying that Martinez — who would have been Somerville’s first Latinx elected official — welcomed “street gangs” into Somerville. This came after Jack voted for an “anti-gang ordinance” that was aimed at enabling the police to stop-and-frisk Latinx youth in public spaces without any evidence or due cause. The ordinance — which turned out to be unconstitutional — was never used by the Somerville Police Department. This type of “dog-whistle” campaigning has no place in Somerville politics. Here’s the flyer, judge for yourself:

If you want Somerville government to fight for affordable housing, to stand up to deep-pocketed developers, and to treat everyone in our diverse community with respect, don’t vote for Jack Connolly for City Councilor-At-Large. On November 5, please cast all four of your votes for better candidates.