Councilor At-Large Q&A: James Mello

Jimmy Mello is running for Town Councilor At-Large.

Tell people about your background — family, professional background, volunteering, government, activism — and how that will help you as a Town Councilor.

I’m a lifelong resident growing up on Nyack Street, going to the Watertown Public Schools. My first job was at Woolworths in Watertown Square (now CVS). While a senior in high school student I became the youngest elected Town Meeting member at 18 years old. I also was elected to the Planning Board where I served until Watertown changed the form of government in 1980. Since then I have been involved in the behind the scenes of numerous political campaigns. I was appointed as one of the resident members of the 2020 Watertown Charter Review Committee. I believe these past experiences uniquely qualify me to a Town Councilor.

The pandemic has created some trying and difficult times for residents and along with that for local government, and in other towns elected and hired officials have stepped down. Why during these challenging times did you decide to run for office? And with a robust group of candidates running in 2021, why do you think Watertown has so many people stepping forward to serve?

COVID-19 took a lot out our elected, appointed public servants along with our first responders. I believe some our worn out that and some of the vicious attacks by some of the organized groups in this community have taken their toll. I along with others are candidates due to attacks like this on our Police, Schools and other public servants and believe that we can bring back the great community spirit that Watertown has always had.

Being a new town manager is difficult enough, but following such a long-term and successful Town Manager will be a tough task. What do you look for in the new manager and how will you, as a councilor, help the new Town Manager get established and be successful?

I will seek an individual experienced with the operations like a community such as Watertown whom has a strong ability to Communicate, be Fiscally Responsible, Good Manager, ability to work with the Council and Department Heads as well as employees.

Do you think the voters should pass the changes to the Town Charter? Explain why you feel that way.

As I stated above I served on the Charter Review and I am going to leave it to the voters to decide these changes.

Police funding and the services provided by the Watertown Police have become a big topic of discussion. Should the funding be increased, decreased or is it just about right? And, would you like to see how the Police in Watertown operate (please explain your answer)?

I will reiterate again I will never ever vote to defund, reallocate or divert the funding of the men and women of the Watertown Police Department! I would actually work with the Police Chief, Town Manager and fellow Town Councilors to see what other needs and resources are necessary to improve the Department.

What issue in Watertown that might not be getting enough attention would you want to work on as a councilor, and how would you like the Town government to address the issue?

I believe we need to address the needs of our community in regards to Open Space, Affordable Housing and Climate Change. However I believe we should address these in a responsible and economically feasible way. Watertown has addressed some of these with a fund the purchase of Open Space, established a Housing Trust and require new major developments to have solar power that along with our Net Zero Schools is a great start.

Watertown has taken a lot of steps to become more green and to address climate change. Do you think the Town has done enough, or would you like more to be done — if so what would you like to see?

As I stated above I believe Watertown has addressed a lot regarding this. However, we can always do more. I would like to see what comes down from Federal and State Governments on how they are planning on addressing these issues. We as a Council should look at ways of encouraging more ways of achieving more.

What is something that people may not know about you that residents would find interesting?

I am an avid sports fan of our local teams the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. I also enjoy watching golf.