City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne joins Somerville mayoral race

Katjana Ballantyne joins a Somerville community meeting held at the Tufts University Administration Building on March 5, 2020. Patrick Milewski / The Tufts Daily

Somerville Ward 7 City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne announced her campaign for mayor of Somerville on March 9. The office is currently held by Joseph Curtatone, the city’s longest-serving mayor, who announced earlier this month that he is not running for reelection after nearly 20 years.

Though Ballantyne was not able to be reached for comment, she explained her background and goals for the future in her campaign announcement.

“I’m running to represent the values and culture of Somerville, to make sure that everyone’s voice will be heard in city hall and I’m running because our next Mayor needs to have the skills and experience to be our chief executive,” Ballantyne wrote in the announcement.

Ballantyne also emphasized that the mayor and City Council need to do a better job listening to the community.

“It takes a little longer to engage everyone in making decisions, but an inclusive process creates buy-in and leads to our proudest achievements,” she said.

According to her campaign website, Councilor Ballantyne immigrated with her family to the United States when she was four years old, after being adopted in Greece and living in Germany. She went on to become the first person in her family to earn a college degree and has spent three decades working in international business, startup companies, nonprofits and local governments. 

“I moved to Somerville nearly thirty years ago, and discovered a place that was fast changing, but was embracing its diversity and progressive values,” Ballantyne said. “Somerville was a place where I felt I could fit in, and I’m forever grateful that my husband Rick and I planted our roots and raised our two daughters here.”

She has also previously served as board president of the Somerville Community Corporation and was elected twice as City Council president. 

Somerville City Councilor-at-Large Kristen Strezo, who has worked with Ballantyne, praised her work in the City Council.

“I am happy to say that I’ve worked with Ballantyne throughout the years and I know her to be a thorough and thoughtful City Councilor,” Strezo wrote in an email to the Daily. 

During her time in office both as a city councilor and as the City Council president, Ballantyne has worked with Tufts on numerous projects, initiatives and programs. Tufts’ Director of Community Relations Rocco DiRico outlined Tufts’ collaboration with Ballantyne on a community testing program. 

“Most recently, we worked with Councilor Ballantyne on a community testing program which provided free COVID-19 tests to neighbors that lived close to campus in Ward 6 and 7 of Somerville,” DiRico wrote in an email to the Daily. 

DiRico explained that as a nonprofit organization, Tufts cannot support or endorse a political candidate in local, state or national elections, but that its involvement with Ballantyne has been positive.

“Tufts has enjoyed a great working relationship with Councilor Ballantyne and the other members of the Somerville City Council,” he said. 

He expanded further on this.

“We value our collaborations and partnerships with the cities of Medford, Somerville, Boston and the town of Grafton,” DiRico said. “While the leadership of those municipalities have changed over the years, one thing that won’t change is Tufts’ commitment to supporting the communities that we call home.”

Councilor Ballantyne will be joining William Tauro in the race, who announced his campaign for mayor of Somerville in October.

Ballantyne concluded her campaign announcement by calling on those who share her progressive values to join her campaign. 

“We know we can live our progressive values, nurture our institutions, support our local businesses, keep our city safe, and keep building upon what’s great here so we can all thrive together,” she said. “That’s why I’m running to be the next Mayor of Somerville and, if you share those goals too, I ask you to join us.”

A preliminary election is scheduled for Sept. 14 and the general election will be held on Nov. 2. Inaugural day is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2022.