Waltham City Councilor Jonathan Paz to run for mayor
Paz is challenging 19-year incumbent Jeannette McCarthy and would be the first Latino mayor in Waltham.
On March 9, a cold, sunny New England morning, a group of about 20 people, consisting of residents, city council members, and media personnel, gathered together on the sidewalk of Moody Street. With the Charles River in the background, Waltham’s Ward 9 City Councilor Jonathan Paz formally announced his candidacy for Waltham Mayor, challenging 19-year incumbent Jeannette McCarthy.
“I’m here to announce I'm running for mayor, because Waltham has amazing potential and this administration does not have a vision for our future,” Paz said. With the sound of passing trains and squawking geese penetrating through his speech he added, “I will be the mayor who puts people over politics ... I will be a mayor who will have a real plan to make Waltham affordable, sustainable, and academically excellent.”
Paz is the son of Bolivian immigrants who immigrated to Waltham, but in fourth grade, he was separated from his parents due to U.S. immigration policies. He stayed in Waltham where he attended public school and became the first in his family to attend college, at the University of Pennsylvania. After college he returned to his roots in Waltham, and in 2019, he was elected to be a Waltham city councilor, defeating a 30-year incumbent Robert Logan. This November, Paz hopes to defeat five-term Mayor McCarthy.
If elected, Paz will be the first Latino mayor in Waltham’s history. According to the United States Census, Waltham’s population is made up of 14.5 percent Hispanic or Latino residents. “It would be great to make history that way, but it shouldn't be new to Waltham, because we’re a historically diverse city, historically working class, and historically inclusive,” Paz said. “But I’m here to serve all of Waltham. I do carry my Latin ethnicity with pride. I’m not ashamed to speak three different languages. I think [being Waltham’s first Latino Mayor] would mean a lot to my family.”
“When I was first elected as city councilor, I led the fight for stable rents, affordable home ownership, and a modernized transit system. Mayor McCarthy blocked progress every step of the way,” Paz said. “I don't think that she has done a good job of staying in touch with the reality of everyday people.” In 2020, Paz served on the Economic & Community Development Committee and Long Term Debt Committee where he proposed the Affordable Housing Resolution and co-proposed the Modern Bus Shelter Resolution and the Management of COVID-19 in Waltham Resolution. This year he remains on the Economic & Community Development Committee but also now serves on the Veterans Service Committee.
The Justice reached out to Mayor McCarthy for comment, and received a response from Bob Di Gregorio who, in a March 13 email, denied Paz’s claims. The Justice does not have clarification of Di Gregorio’s connection to McCarthy.
As a product of Waltham public schools, current member of the city council, and a lifelong resident of Waltham, Paz said the city needs more affordable housing, a better education system, and modernized transit and traffic systems. During his announcement, he expressed concerns with the current administration’s handling of what he considers are pressing issues.
“This administration is beholden to special interests,” Paz said. Rather than making sure the seniors and veterans of Waltham are fed, supporting community farms and pantries, and investing in the future of students, the current administration has been threatening and harassing the programs and resources that serve all the people of Waltham, Paz claimed.
As mayor, Paz plans to develop a comprehensive housing plan to make the city more affordable, so no residents are pushed out.
With regards to education, Paz expressed the need to address educational problems head on. He sees the lack of alternative graduation paths to be an issue. Paz said many of Waltham students are poor, “punished,” and left at a disadvantage of having to work to survive. Waltham has a new high school being built that will accommodate 1,830 students. Its anticipated completion date is in Aug. 2024. However, Paz vocalized that the city can’t wait until the new school opens to solve the educational problems and instead provide alternative graduation paths, such as implementing night school programs.
Another priority of Paz’s campaign is to modernize Waltham’s transportation system. Paz describes the Waltham Station on Carter Street to be in disrepair and said the city is in desperate need of a new train station. He also explained the need to invest in alternative ways for people to get around the city that would increase train, bus, and bike ridership. “We need to modernize our transit to get cars off the road, to mitigate traffic and to make our streets safer,” Paz said.
Although these are major priorities of his campaign, Paz said he intends on going door-to-door to listen to the wants and needs of Waltham’s residents.
Emily Saperia, a Waltham resident, community organizer, and friend of Paz’s partner Diana Ordonez, said she supports Paz’s vision because he champions policies that are important to her. Saperia has been a community organizer for about 10 years, focusing on agriculture in eastern Massachusetts, and values Paz’s work with local farmers and agricultural workers. She also expressed her excitement for a mayor of a new generation.
“We have a new generation coming up the ranks here. Councilor, soon Mayor Paz, is a great example of that generation,” Saperia said optimistically. “He reflects the diversity of the city.”
After making his formal announcement of his candidacy, Paz directed his attention to the Spanish speaking audience, by saying what appeared to have been his speech in Spanish. “We gotta do it. We gotta do it for the culture,” Paz joked.
Nancy Bradley-McGann, a Waltham resident and mother of Councillor-at-Large Colleen Bradley-MacArthur, said she looks for a candidate that is honest and will act in the best interest of all Waltham people regardless of race, social class, age, or education level.
“I feel that he really cares about me as an elderly person,” Bradley-McGann said. “I feel like Jonathan is very interested in the roots of Waltham, [and] I think he wants to come up with good proposals for the city and move us in a good direction.”
Elections will take place on Nov. 7. More information about voter registration/status, polling stations, and results can be found on the Waltham elections website.