LETTER: Councilor Candidate Seeks to Continue Progress Made in Building a Stronger Community


Watertown has had a challenging year, yet, working together, we’ve made much progress in building a stronger community. I’m John Gannon, and for the last two years I’ve had the honor of serving as one of your four town councilors at-large.

I grew up here, the beneficiary of a rich, colorful, multicultural Watertown upbringing. I graduated from Watertown High, inspired and guided by my teachers to begin a life of public service. I chose to remain in Watertown after college and law school, attracted by that same
community spirit that welcomes new residents to establish their lives here, too. More than anything I’ve achieved, however, I’m the proud dad of my son Will, 18.

For over 25 years, I’ve been serving as an attorney for more than 100 Massachusetts cities and towns, a career I regard as a calling. I was fortunate to begin my career for Watertown, as Assistant Town Attorney and Acting Town Attorney, and later as a zoning board member, working on major Watertown issues, and learning about our local government. I later served large cities and small towns statewide, including the City of Somerville.

Representing multiple communities statewide, I’ve learned how strong communities operate: they listen to their residents, welcome dialogue, consider best practices and inspire responsive and effective public services. The Watertown of my youth has changed. We’ve evolved from an industrial community to a place that promises enhanced tax revenue and opportunities for many. Yet, growth also comes with new challenges, skyrocketing home prices and environmental impacts.

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As we see a Watertown that is in demand by developers, we must always maintain that amazing community spirit that brought and keeps us here. Watertown is truly on the move. We’re building award-worthy schools for our students. We’re launching a robust, public process to replace our retiring stellar town manager and hire a likewise well-qualified, inclusive leader.

We’ll be embracing Town Charter reforms, developed through community engagement processes, to improve our local government. We’ll be developing increased communication opportunities, green spaces, community paths, sustainability, well-funded town services, honest dialogue on diversity issues, neighborhood-friendly development, and a welcoming community for all.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we can’t stop now. We need strong, experienced leadership to guide us through these challenges. We need councilors with trusted municipal experience to select a community-focused, top-notch town manager. We need councilors who worked for over a year engaging and listening to residents to adopt the improvement in openness and transparency envisioned by the Town Charter Review Committee. We need councilors who will listen to the voices of all of our residents who live in this wonderful community.

I would be honored to have one of your four votes so that, working together, we can continue our progress. For more information, please go to www.GannonforWatertown.com, or call me at (617) 431-6642. Thank you.

(NOTE: The deadline for submitting election letters is Thursday, Oct. 28. They can be submitted to watertownmanews@gmail.com)

7 thoughts on “LETTER: Councilor Candidate Seeks to Continue Progress Made in Building a Stronger Community

  1. Watertown Voters will be asked a question on the ballot – to call Watertown a town or city !

    Why did the charter review members vote to put this on the ballot ?
    It has no legal value in the State of Massachusetts.

    Unfortunately – After 41 years in this government – this does not improve your quality of life in any way.

    Either choice will not maje any difference at all – no benefit !

    The State will continue to officially designate Watertown as a TOWN. Whatever is voted .

    The State of Massachusetts only recognizes a city -if it has WARDS.

    Watertown does not have wards !
    It doesn’t meet the State requirement to be an official city .

    The charter review could even have asked voters to consider calling Watertown a “Village “
    The State officially designates Watertown a town no matter what is printed on the ballot .
    It has no benefit- makes no different
    Except – the cost –

    All Watertown documents will have to be thrown out – all contracts – all public notices- all departments’ stationery – all town officials ‘“business cards”and more .
    Will have to be reprinted .

    Why was Watertown called a “Town known as a city “?

    The State designated Watertown and 13 other communities “Towns known as cities” because these are CITIES WITHOUT a MAYOR.

    I had asked the charter review members to allow the voters to vote on members of planning board – zoning board etc as it was 42 years ago –
    They refused – do it will stay the same – the town manager appoints all !!
    I believe it’s called a Democracy.

    Hope this is informational .

    Respectfully submitted ,

    Marilyn M.Petitto Devaney
    Youngest town meeting member – nearly 30’years serving as your Councillor at large and proud to represent you and 32 towns and cities from Ayer to Back Bay as Governor’s Councillor .

  2. Oops typo – Watertown is a “city known as a town”like 13 other communities in Massachusetts . It was reversed in my letter submitted .
    As reported in my letter –
    State designates Watertown as a town regardless of how Watertown votes the question on the ballot

    As I stated – the state only recognizes a city -that has wards.

    Watertown does not meet the state’s. Requirement to be a city – No wards !
    Sorry for the typo in my previous letter.

  3. According to the Secretary of State’s website, “There are five communities that have been granted the title of city though they do not have wards; they are: AMESBURY, EASTHAMPTON, GREENFIELD, METHUEN and FRAMINGHAM.” According to the same site, “There are fourteen communities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government, though they wish to be known as “The Town of”.” Watertown is one of those. So we have a city form of government, have previously asked to be called a “town”, and now, through the charter vote next month, are asking that the “town” designation be rescinded so we can be called a city.

    • Dear John,
      Thank you for following up with the Secretary of State and clarifying/correcting the information presented by Marilyn Petitto Devaney.
      Questions that have been asked in charter review meetings are: Why change now?What are the benefits to enacting this change? What would it cost to fully implement this change i.e., what town/city resources, tools, signage, vehicle markings, documents, etc. would need to be changed? Is there a mandated deadline or timeframe regarding the execution of these changes should the community vote to be called “The City of Watertown?” Many of these questions have gone unanswered. People should have a complete picture of what they are voting for.
      What is of greater concern to me personally is that too many graduates of WHS do not understand our form of local government nor do many of our residents. Perhaps we need a Government 101 class for the entire community available on video at the library.
      Point of information: We have had a city form of government with a town manager and have been The City Known as the Town of Watertown since 1980. That’s 41 years folks.

      We Are All Watertown

      • I was born in District D and have lived in District C ever since. I have seen the enormous changes in Watertown and we need to get on top of those changes. I was here before there was an Arsenal Mall. I was here when Russo was not the only game in town. The plot of land I currently live on was a plot of woods. Yes Watertown was a bit more rural back in the 1970s. The current charter was good for 1981 Watertown but now it is not robust enough to handle 2021 Watertown. What we currently have is a cute charter for a quaint town. I remember how quaint it was. Watertown is now an ever expanding municipality that no longer resembles 1981 Watertown. Change is necessary. Fear only puts up behind the 8 ball. Not only is this harmful for the current residents who pay the taxes and often do not get listened to for a myriad of reasons, but it is also short-sighted in that it does not take in account future generations. Neighbors and friends, for Question 1 vote whatever. Leave blank. I honestly don’t care if we call Watertown a town or city or Xanadu. For Question 2, vote Yes. Good stewardship relies on a Yes vote.

  4. John, you were an excellent addition 2 years ago and I think it will huge loss for the Town Council if you are not re-elected. Time and time again, you prove why all the municipalities that you have served are better because you were part of them.

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