Mayor Gary Christenson sits down with the Malden Advocate’s Leigh Vozzella
By Leigh Vozzella
For Mayor Gary Christenson, the end of 2012 marks the end of his first year in office. “It went by very quick. I wouldn’t change a thing and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity,” remarks Mayor Christenson.
The new mayor’s inaugural year has been filled with many challenges as well as accomplishments. “If I had to pick one (improvement) I am most proud of, it would be the advances we have made in communicating directly with residents,” says the Mayor. This administration made a concerted effort to utilize social media in order to engage directly with Malden residents. Avenues such as Facebook, Twitter and online forums put the local city government in direct contact with residents, opening lines of communication between constituents and city officials.
The city recently opened the Malden Teen Enrichment Center at 1 Salem St. The center, according to the Mayor, “provides a safe place for Malden teens to socialize with friends, receive homework assistance, play games, take part in enrichment activities, develop leadership skills and participate in community service opportunities.” In an additional effort to provide opportunities to the teens in Malden, the Mayor held a Summer Youth Employment Program, which successfully provided 335 teens with summer jobs throughout the City.
When asked what the biggest challenge during his first year has been, Mayor Christenson answered undoubtedly, “Crime. We are working hard to address the issue and will continue to work hard in 2013 by adding more officers to the ranks.” With the expected retirement of current Police Chief James Holland in February when he turns 65, the state mandatory age of retirement for police officers in Massachusetts, and the impending retirement of Fire Chief Michael Murphy in January, the City’s safety is a primary concern. “Panels are actively meeting to fill both positions,” says Mayor Christenson.
Malden will continue to see improvements and exciting changes as the Mayor embarks on his second year in office. “Moving City Hall, reconnecting Pleasant Street, and redeveloping the current Government Center site to connect the MBTA with our downtown,” the Mayor states, are all part of his vision for Malden in 2013. The Pay-as-you-throw program may also see some changes, as the Mayor is currently awaiting feedback from the resident panel which he expects as early as next month. To further propel the use of technology to keep residents and City departments connected, the City will begin using the Citizens Connection Smartphone application. The application, which can be accessed for free from any smartphone device, will allow residents to take a picture, send it to the correct City department and receive notification that the issue has been resolved. “Malden will be a trial city to try this application out in the next month or so,” says Mayor Christenson. The Mayor also noted that, “the fiscal year 2013-2015 Capital Improvement Plan was just posted to the City of Malden website this morning,” and residents can view the budget and plan for the city.
Mayor Christenson intends to achieve the goals he has set for the City of Malden in 2013 by, “continuing to work hard and give it my all.” He concluded by saying, “The beauty of this position that I’ve found out during this first year is that there are good people who work for the City and active residents, all who want to see the City succeed. I’m optimistic we will succeed in 2013.”