John Matheson

Biography & Background Experience

  • Education: MBA Business & Finance (Suffolk University – Sawyer School of Management) 2007; Juris DoctorLaw (Rutgers Law School) 2001; BA Political Science (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 1998
  • Current Employment: Trial Attorney, Managing Partner (Matheson Wolf LLP) since 2006; Trial attorney. Specialties: Civil litigation. Wrongful death and business law. Prior to that, he was a Trial Attorney (Swartz & Lynch, LLP) 2003-06
  • City Council; City Councillor for Ward 3 since January 2012; City Councillor-at-Large 2009. Served as Council President in 2015.
  • Committees: Mr. Matheson sits on “several municipal committees, including Master Plan Steering; License; Ordinance and Zoning; Malden Hospital; and Traffic Mitigation” (LinkedIn).
  • Spouse & Children: Engaged to Ingrid K. Munroe, an accountant in Wakefield and mother of Sofia and Christopher (Patch 10/17/13).
  • Volunteer Work: “John believes that those who are blessed should help others. John is a past President and Board Chairman of The Bread of Life, Inc. During his service he helped The Bread of Life move to a new facility and grow its distribution to 1 Million meals served per year. John’s memberships also include the Massachusetts Freemasons and Shriners, which operate charitable causes such as the Children’s Burn Center and Orthopedic Center” (LinkedIn).
  • Note: Mr. Matheson also ran (unsuccessfully) for State Representative in 2014 (WL 4/22/19).

Basics

  • Biggest issues: Green space, governmental transparency, and lowering taxes and fees paid by citizens.
  • Campaign Committee: “Our team is comprised of volunteers from diverse backgrounds. We include men and women of different ethnicities and religions. Our team members include professional tradespeople, attorneys, accountants, and small business owners. No one is paid. All of our important decisions are made as a committee. We are grassroots. Our donors and volunteers are great Malden residents we met on the campaign trail. We are funded by many small donations, which I personally match dollar for dollar. Nearly all of our funds go to printing and postage to educate the public on the issues facing Malden and our solutions for them. Our goal is to empower people with facts and information” (Quality 2019).
  • Motivation for running: “When we have a mayor race, the power shifts back to The People. It holds us all accountable, and makes sure we listen to their issues and address their concerns. This is where our priorities should come from. In many ways, the timing is perfect, as the issues of over-development of apartments, missed opportunities for commercial growth, broken roads and water pipes, and the lingering issue of trash and recycling collection are all coming to a head. I want The People to know: ‘I hear you, and I will not let you down” (WL 6/7/19).
  • Leadership Philosophy: “In a democracy, government is supposed to serve the interests of ‘The People’. We need elected people to decide laws and budgets that require time and research. However, some questions are easily understood and are of broad public interest because they affect our daily lives. In those cases, the voters should decide” (Quality 2019).

Business Development

  • Commercial Business: “With the focus on apartment growth during Christenson’s stint in office, Matheson said the city has remained stagnant in terms of commercial development like franchises and shopping centers, like the recently finished Assembly Row just outside of Malden” (NV 4/22/19).
  • Employees for Local Businesses: “So one thing we did several years ago is, we had a committee on the Council that would keep developers hiring local, and hiring females, and minorities, and making sure that the entire Malden community benefited from the hiring of those developers. I think we could do the same thing by being a partner with the Chamber and the businesses … I know we’re doing social media and the internet the way we’ve never done in the past. We could certainly reach out to all those channels and bring in that type of qualified labor” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Small Businesses “This is one of the best economies of our lifetime. There’s no denying it … We have dollar stores and empty storefronts when our surrounding communities don’t. Now you look down at Wellington Circle, it’s absolutely beautiful, and then you look at Assembly Row … That is phenomenal. Why doesn’t Malden have that? … There is no reason why National Grid should be an abandoned parking lot” (Debate 10/24/19).
  • Taxes for Small Businesses: “I passed a $5,000 exemption on personal property tax. We had over 500 accounts that were unpaid where the treasurer was trying to chase people around, collect personal property tax from the small business owners. I’m one of those small business owners. When you have like a computer and some office furniture and small money under $10,000, $5,000, we don’t need to be chasing those guys around collecting those tax receipts. We need to make it easier for people to start a small business” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Work from Home: “I want to make it more possible and accessible for people to work from home, cause I think that’s the future that this country’s going in. A lot of people need special accommodations … and with today’s technology, it’s becoming more possible than ever” (Debate 10/24/19).

Citizens

  • Cultural Diversity: “Our community is one of the most diverse that you’ll find anywhere and I’m proud of that. I can go anywhere and see people – I’m always comfortable in any environment. One thing that I would like to see is that we have a translation staff in the Mayor’s Office … What we don’t have is the ability for someone to come into City Hall and say, “Explain this building permit” or “Explain this rule” or “Explain what’s going on here”. For you to enjoy the full benefits of living here in Malden, you need someone that’s able to speak your language and that’s something I want to bring. I’ve been hearing that from the community and that’s something I want to roll out” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Disabled: “What you’ll find is these sidewalks all around our community, there are a lot of sidewalks that have tilted up because the tree roots are growing under them and then in the cracks, you get all the weeds growing out and it just looks like hell. We need to make sure that every one of these sidewalks is fixed … I see a lot of folks and walkers and they’re saying the same thing. Well just folks that aren’t good ambulating, you know what I mean? We need to take away those trip hazards, clean up those sidewalks and make the transition into the street a less bumpy, choppy one that’s full of potholes” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Low-Income: “Matheson contends that Mayor Christenson disregards the needs of the city’s low-income residents. Malden residents have an average income more than $12,000 below the state average, as reported by The Boston Globe … The councillor said that low-income citizens are additionally subjected to an increase in city per capita income from the apartment developments. The developments also brought an influx of students into the school system and no expansion in affordable housing” (NV 4/22/19).

Civic engagement

  • Diverse Leadership: I would love to see the next generation of folks that live here and call Malden their home to start running for office. You will see people of Asian descent and different racial makeups take on positions of authority within the City Council; and maybe one day the mayor and the School Committee. I think that would be fantastic” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Livestream of Public Meetings: “I support more visibility of public meetings and will provide the resources needed to accomplish this. The residents have a right to know how their government is working. When residents have increased access to these meetings, it results in better policy making and fewer deals that benefit the politically privileged” (Quality 2019).
  • Public Comment: Voted in favor of allowing public comment at City Council meetings (WL 9/27/17). [The resolution would later pass]

Infrastructure

  • Affordable Housing: “As mayor, I will end this neglect and ensure that Malden maintains a 10 percent stock of affordable units. Moreover, we will create opportunities for residents to buy their own home, affordably. Malden has lost thousands of great senior citizens who downsized their homes only to find they have no affordable options to stay in Malden. Therefore, we will pay particular attention to seniors and veterans, and make Malden a place where people will want to stay” (Quality 2019).
  • Budget: “As mayor, I will appear before the Finance Committee to answer questions about the annual budget. This is the most important form of transparency, and it was abandoned six years ago by the current mayor” (Quality 2019).
  • Cannabis: In March 2017, “Matheson introduced a call for a 12-month moratorium on recreational marijuana in Malden, arguing that the city should not rush the process and should potentially allow voters to decide how many pot shops they want in the city” (WL 3/10/17). ““Something else that’s coming, whether you like these marijuana shops or not, they’re coming … those entitle us to collect up to 3% of their gross revenues. That could result in a tremendous amount of money that could be used to help the schools, and help the roads, and the walkability. I want to make sure it’s going that way” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • CFO/Treasurer: Voted in favor of Jonathan Davis for Malden Treasurer. “After the vote, Matheson made a motion to send a resolve to the mayor to find the funds, either in the next budget or prior, to have both a CFO and Treasurer on staff as opposed to one joint position. That passed 7-4, with Councilors Paul Condon, David D’Arcangelo, Debbie DeMaria and Craig Spadafora voting against. As resolves are non-binding, the mayor is not obligated to fund both positions” (WL 11/15/17).
  • CFO/Treasurer “According to our most recent audit, ‘interest earned on bank deposits has not kept pace with inflation’ earning ‘far less than 1%.’ As a result, ‘The City generated about $150,000 in interest income during fiscal year 2018; this could easily be increased to over $500,000.’ This loss is significant, especially over eight years … I will read every contract, watch every dollar, and target the type of growth that will make us proud. And I will finally appoint the much-needed CFO” (Wallet).
  • Encore“It’s very, very important that we make sure that this money benefits all of us, and if we’re gonna fix our roads, that’s something that we’re all going to appreciate when our repair bills at the auto mechanic are lower and we’re not bouncing around … we can use this money to benefit all of us. We don’t need to play games about some transparent process … I don’t know how many of you have gone to the budget hearings, where the public gets an opportunity to speak, but no one comes” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Entertainment Dollars: [The National Grid site] could be our Assembly Row. it could offer you those things that young people want to go to … what we need is to promote our city. We are poised to become the thriving business hub of Metro North. Our location is ideal … and you’re gonna see businesses come in. You just need the right environment and the right promotion” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Environment: Mr. Matheson opposed the plastic bag ban. “My request to let the People have a say on the 11/5 ballot was rejected. There is no reason why the People should not be allowed to decide a simple question that affects everyone’s daily life … Nearly all of the ocean plastic comes from Asia. Moreover, Malden pays extra to have our trash incinerated; so although we love the environment, this new law will do nothing to solve the problem” (FB 4/17/19).
  • Future Housing Demands: “The purported housing demand is merely a product of politicians and their connections with apartment developers … The high rent charged by these apartments has made Malden appear to be a more affluent community, which has a depressing effect on the state aid that Malden schools need. At the same time, we lost after-school program funding, raising costs for struggling families. This model has to change. Malden has enough people, apartments, and cars for the foreseeable future” (Quality 2019).
  • Lead pipes: “Matheson successfully moved to reallocate $200,000 in block grant money to the Malden Redevelopment Authority’s housing rehabilitation loan program, which provides residents in need with a way to replace lead water lines on their own property … Matheson also proposed reallocating $180,000 earmarked for improvements at Anderson Park Little League field in Ward Seven and two covered, handicapped accessible dugouts at Callahan Park softball field on Pearl Street (Ward Two)” (WL 3/1/17).
  • Lead Pipes (pt 2) “We should also coordinate water main replacement with gas pipe replacements to share the cost of road resurfacing with National Grid. To the extent additional funds are needed, we can look to the uncommitted $1 million per year Malden is receiving from the casino … Most of the lead lines replaced today on private property occur because the City Council passed an ordinance requiring replacement when a home sells. I would expand that policy to all current homeowners, by helping them receive a clean pipe today, and reimburse the city at a later refinance or sale” (FB 5/13/19). The city website has a map of lead pipelines and information about the Removal of Lead Pipes Ordinance.
  • Luxury Apartments: “It is more lucrative, Matheson said, for developers to build luxury apartments — not even condos — and that is a real challenge for the city which, he believes, would be better off with owner-occupied housing” (NV 4/5/18).
  • Moratorium on Residential Development: We did do a two-year moratorium on residential development but only on [apartment buildings] outside the business district. That lasted two years. You’re only allowed to do a moratorium if you have a study to perform … We need a direction of the city that takes us away from the apartment growth and brings us to business growth” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Police: “Attacks on police are completely unacceptable. Police, and in fact everyone who wears a uniform and keeps us safe, deserve our respect” (Twitter 7/25/19).
  • Street Sweeping: I am asking the City to refund street sweeping fines for the last 2 years. Malden doubled its fine and increased ticket writing for parking on street sweeping days, but did not put up signs to notify drivers when that day was” (FB 3/19/19) [Note: this post contains an image without the full text of the letter].
  • Tax Revenue“There are more tech industry dollars in this region than any region in the country other than Silicon Valley. If we can attract the right type of business for Malden Square (and we are poised with our location to do that), we would be able to benefit the entire community with it. Every time a dollar gets earned and generated here, it spreads around the community 4-6 times. You know those businesses are going to need your printing services, they’re going to need every type of restaurant, you’re gonna see that all the businesses benefit, all the consumers benefit, and the tax pay is going to benefit. If we can generate positive business revenue, we can give the taxpayers a break for once” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Waste & Recycling: “The plan that I put forward, you would pay the fair market value for one barrel, one time. You would fill that barrel with your waste. Life in Malden should not be more inconvenient than it is in Medford, Everett, Melrose, or any of these other communities. I’d also like to offer residents a barrel at fair market value where they can mix their recycling and have the recycling taken away as well” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Water: “Water/sewer rate increases should be advertised and televised. Presently, the mayor and his three appointees conduct these changes in his office with no public attention” (Quality 2019).

Public Spaces

  • Community Gardens“We did the cleanup over in Fellsmere Pond, we incorporated the school kids from the Beebe and now when we do our annual Arbor Day, we dedicate that tree to someone we loved who has passed away here in Malden. And we have the students there and the neighbors and we all put our hands on the soil together and we plant a tree. When you’re talking about community gardens, you’re talking about the same kind of community building” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Malden Hospital: “I state with certainty that residents prefer a modest number of condos or cottages for seniors and veterans. Most of the 18 acres could then serve our need for more open space … Since 2013, I protected this community from a massive apartment development that was privately negotiated by the mayor. It began as 400+ units, with 550+ cars, and zero affordable units.” (Quality 2019).
  • Malden River: “Instead of being inaccessible and polluted, The Malden River can be transformed into a popular Riverwalk destination. As mayor, I will immediately begin to join all of the public and private stakeholders, to: 1. pursue state and federal funding to clean the water; 2. adorn the banks with benches, a boat launch, and beautiful natural landscape that people will want to visit; 3. create a public entrance to the river center through the DPW yard; and 4. Conduct a feasibility study for a public ferry shuttle to Boston Harbor” (Quality 2019).
  • National Grid Site: “I would love to see that become, like a Station Landing, where you have shops, and benches, and a place for us to go that can attract consumers and bring real revenue – not this phony apartment revenue. Real revenue that’ll put us on the map and make us proud. That’s the kind of future our residents want to see. … Malden Station [is] one of the busiest T-stops, we should capitalize” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Public Parks: “We will conduct a citywide inventory of all public shade trees, and create a diversity of tree stock that includes disease-resistant native species. We will grind out tree stumps, fix tilted sidewalks, and plant and prune trees everywhere it is needed … There are many grants available to pay for this important work and the new administration will prioritize grant writing” (Quality 2019).
  • Roosevelt Park: “Ward 5 is blessed to have a very caring and inclusive ward councillor, Barbara Murphy, who has held public meetings and listened carefully to all the stakeholders. The CPA Committee, Council and Mayor have also been open to this discussion. At present, different fills are being explored to maximize the benefits of drainage and hours of useful operation for all activities. This project will be a major benefit to the community” (MNN 5/29/19).
  • Senior Citizen Center: “What I’d like to do is see exactly what services are needed and expand upon those. I don’t think there’s enough data tracking of that. If we need to expand this building, there’s a possibility to expand on senior services, and I’d like to explore that, but it’ll happen with all the stakeholders in the entire community, including the ping pong community” (Debate 10/24/19).
  • Trees: “Beautiful streets are important, and trees are an integral part of that. I have championed this issue on the City Council by drafting Malden’s tree care ordinance, initiating our Tree City USA certification, and starting Malden’s annual Arbor Day where we dedicate and plant a city tree together” (Quality 2019)

Schools

  • Budget: “In fiscal year 2012, when [Gary Christenson] took over, our state Chapter 70 school aid was 87% of our total school cost. That has dropped down to 69% today … This means that our taxpayers went from paying $6.4 million a year to being responsible for paying $23 million a year to bridge the funding gap. This is unacceptable and it’s directly related to apartment developments … So we failed to comply with grant rules and that caused working parents to pay twice as much for their child to attend the afterschool program … I think we need a grant writer and compliance that is state-of-the-art so that we take in the right amount of money and we keep that money. I will be a friend to education and public safety and I think it begins by making sure that your financial house is in order” (Debate 10/24/19).
  • Diversity“So we have a lot of diverse students. It’s over well over 50% – we’re talking about two out of three students. And they want to see the teacher population reflect that diversity as well. Our diversity as a community has changed more rapidly than teacher careers and what we need to do is encourage young people to get into the teaching fields, because we’re recruiting … and we’re even taking it to social media. I think that’s the new platform where you can reach a diverse body of potential employees” (Forum 9/25/19).

Transit Issues

  • Inventory: “Residents deserve to know if and when the mayor plans to fix their street. As mayor, I will inventory every street, sidewalk and public tree for quality control, and include the public in a participatory process that is fair to everyone” (Quality 2019).
  • Intersections: “This year we have secured $1 Million of safety improvements to Fellsway/Highland and the Fellsway East corridor, which has been a source of damage, injury and death for decades, causing all our citizens to pay higher insurance rates” (FB 5/22/19). 
  • Parking: “We will also conduct a citywide audit of parking spaces to add parking where possible and take away the problem spots. After paying excise tax, gas tax, registration fees, inspection fees, tolls, license fees, and insurance, Malden residents deserve a mayor that makes this a priority” (Quality 2019).
  • Pedestrian Safety: I do believe that we do need to improve pedestrian safety. That’s why in the Council, we passed a drive 25, so we are now citywide a 25 mph speed limit .. I think the most heavily traveled intersections particularly, where you find the elderly buildings, those entire blocks are a signal that this is a safe zone. We need to slow down those cars, we could do that with better signal timing as well” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Roads: What I want to do is go around the community and I want to audit every single street, street-by-street. We have about 550 some-odd streets. It’s gonna take a whole term, but we’re gonna find out everything that street needs. Every one of you is gonna benefit. We’re going to identify all the parking spaces we can create and then we’re gonna find the problem ones so we’re gonna get rid of those. And while we’re doing it, we’re gonna identify the worst roads, we’re gonna audit what trees we have, and which sidewalks need to be fixed, and which crosswalks need to be painted. We need to take a holistic approach to all of these things and we could do it street by street and I think you’ll find that when we’re done, we’re gonna have better parking solutions for this city” (Forum 9/25/19).
  • Speed: “Malden will post 25 MPH speed limit signs and improve enforcement. Our mayor has been slow to act while residents pay the price” (Quality 2019).
  • Traffic Congestion: “We will restrict the use of side roads as cut-throughs by nonresident commuters … Apartments have overcrowded our roads, and we desperately need to improve traffic flow with updated signal timing. The USDOT recommends adaptive signal technology that measures and adjusts to traffic in real time. This is proven to lessen stop-and-go wait times by up to 20%, while reducing CO2 emissions, gas consumption, and driver frustration” (Quality 2019).

 

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