Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone with supporters of his 2019 reelection campaign. (Photo: Joe Curtatone via Facebook)

Somerville’s long-serving mayor, Joe Curtatone, told city officials Monday that he will not seek reelection in November.

Curtatone, 54, has been mayor for nine terms since 2004, making him the city’s longest-serving mayor.

“This will be my final year as mayor of Somerville,” he said in a regular midterm address to fellow city officials. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the city where I was raised. I love this job and this community with every ounce of my being.” He did not give a reason for leaving the race, raising speculation that he would try to replace Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who’s been widely criticized for failing to manage an efficient vaccine rollout despite a background in the health care industry.

Curtatone has not been shy about critiquing Baker’s performance. “The entire Massachusetts Covid response at this point, from reopenings to vaccines, is scattered and irresponsible,” he tweeted Monday.

Still, he told reporters after his announcement that his decision was personal.

The race to replace Curtatone already has a candidate: William “Billy” Tauro, publisher of the Somerville News Weekly. Tauro, a Trump supporter who stands in strong contrast to Curtatone’s progressive image, has used the weekly newspaper to present conspiracy theories about Curtatone. He compiled several articles into a book called “Stealing Somerville: The Death of an Urban City.” The nature of the corruption he alleges is hard to describe.

Though the local nature of the race may shake things up, it’s hard to imagine Tauro’s far-right platform elevating him to the mayor’s office; in the past election some 87 percent of Somerville voters went for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and only around 10 percent for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

The mayor was lauded late Monday by two progressive city councilors. “I was elected to the council with a wave of new candidates all focused on affordable housing. Some mayors might’ve dug in opposition, but Joe Curtatone leaned in,” Ben Ewen-Campen said online. Councilor Will Mbah responded, saying, “I couldn’t agree with you more. Mayor Curtatone has been an exemplary leader in Somerville and the commonwealth.”