By Cary Shuman
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic kickoff to her campaign for re-election to the city’s highest office.
There was a standing-room only crowd, a well-received speech interrupted often by applause, and appearances by several city officials who have contributed to the progress Kennedy has made as the city’s chief executive for the past eight years.
Kennedy brilliantly chose a unique, time-machine style approach in her remarks, taking the guests on a tour of the city from the year before she was mayor through today.
The mayor cited numerous achievements, notably the success of the Lynn City Hall Auditorium which has become a top-flight entertainment venue featuring nationally known acts, the construction of the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School, the new Demoulas Market Basket store that will open this fall and create hundreds of jobs, the expansion of the Wyoma Square parking lot, and the implementation of the reverse 9-1-1 system.
Former mayoral chief of staff Jamie Cerulli introduced Mayor Kennedy, telling the large gathering, “It’s my honor and privilege to announce my good friend and our mayor – Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.”
The mayor began by thanking the people in attendance. “This is a turnout that was better than I ever could have hoped for and I truly appreciate all of you taking the time to come down to the Porthole tonight.”
Kennedy thoughtfully thanked Porthole manager Kristin Colella “for all of her help,” and expressed appreciation to her campaign committee and staff.
Kennedy took the guests back to the year 2010, noting the improvements made to Sluice Pond, Flax Pond, and Goldfish Pond since that time. “The ponds are now clean. They have a dedicated source of money to pay for the cleanup of all the ponds. We can insure that our pond system is clean and free of invasive vegetation and it’s welcoming to all of the visitors to those beautiful bodies of water.”
She spoke of the improved lighting situation at Barry Park and the new lighting at the Wyoma Little League baseball field.
Kennedy received applause for her efforts in expanding the Wyoma Square parking lot that has greatly aided the restaurants and businesses in the area.
“Let’s bounce back to Wyoma Square for a minute and go in to the Wyoma Square parking lot. It was small. It was cramped. There were a lot of nicks and accidents that took place in that narrow, unkempt parking lot.
“With a little bit of help from the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, we were able to get an easement to extend the Wyoma Square parking lot by several feet and we now have a beautiful, state-of-the-art Wyoma parking lot that not only has a capacity of almost 93 cars – but we are also using it as a revenue generator.”
She called on Community Development Director Jamie Marsh for a bow of recognition for his role in the resurgence of the Lynn Auditorium.
“The Lynn Auditorium in 2010 was ticketing approximately three paid shows per year and had no air conditioning,” said Kennedy. “I never understood why we had such an asset in the heart of Lynn that was not being used. With Jamie Marsh at my side, we were able to get a Mass. Cultural Buildings Council grant that paid for half of the air conditioning. We decided to upgrade on the professionalism of the hall and bring it to the next level. We hired a booking agent, Henry Ryan. I have to say without Henry, Jamie, and myself working together as a trio, the auditorium that you see before you today would not have happened.”
The mayor said the brand new Marshall Middle School has become “a model that the state uses for design of middle schools.
“We have been able to build a very beautiful, new Thurgood Marshall Middle School. It opened ahead of schedule and on budget and I’m very proud of that accomplishment.”
Kennedy credited the team that she assembled in her administration for the city’s progress.
Addressing her many supporters in the city, she said, “I would like to ask all of you for your support as we continue this prograss for the next four years.”
Kennedy made only one reference to Sen. Tom McGee, who has announced that he will be a candidate for mayor.
“Senator McGee and I have been public officials for more than 20 years. We have records that can be scrutinized. And I hope that all of you will base your vote this coming election – not on personalities, not on political parties, not on family connections – but on whom has done the most to bring improvement to our great city of Lynn.”
One more loud and extended ovation enveloped the mayor as she left the podium.