In an exclusive interview with Independent, Ward 4 City Councilor John Leo McKinnon announced that, following almost two decades of uninterrupted service, he will not be seeking reelection in the fall.
Friday was the last day by which councilors could submit nomination papers for re-election.
Councilor McKinnon would have faced a single challenger in the November election, Jimmy Tri Le of Westover Street, who will now fill the vacant seat by default barring any kind of sticker campaign in November.
“I want to go out as a winner,” McKinnon told Independent.
Councilor McKinnon was first elected to the Council in 2001. He is currently the longest consecutively serving member of council, serving Ward 4 for 18 years despite being challenged a number of times.
He served on nearly all Council committees over the years, but is perhaps best known for his work on the Public Service Committee, which he also chaired for 14 years. In 2018 Councilor McKinnon was named Public Servant Honoree by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for his work on tackling the city’s opioid epidemic, work he considers the most rewarding of his career.
He is currently chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
Councilor McKinnon said that now that his children are grown, he can focus more on himself and his goals. He also mentioned that he has voted for term limits before in the past, a stance that influenced his decision to retire.
Fellow councilors expressed gratitude for his service and wishes for a happy retirement.
“Councilor McKinnon has dedicated many years to the City of Everett and was a constant advocate for public safety resources,” said City Councilor Anthony DiPierro. “He has served the city well.”
“I have had the honor and privilege to work with Councilor McKinnon many times and have always appreciated his dedication and commitment to the important issues facing our community,” said Councilor Michael McLaughlin. “[He] has always given 100% of himself to our community.”
“I served with Leo for six years on the City Council and he always dedicated himself to public safety issues,” said City Clerk and former City Councillor Sergio Cornelio.
“He has served this community well for a very long time,” said City Councilor Fred Capone. “I thank the good councilor for all his efforts to improve our city.”
Councilor Wayne Matewsky served with Councilor McKinnon on the Ways and Means and Public Service Committees. He referred to his colleague as a gentleman, a family man, a former athlete and a veteran who was very involved in veterans issues.
“Leo is my closest friend. I’ve known him for 40 years,” he said. “He’s the most honest and decent person I have ever served with. He should be very proud of his performance.”
Councilor McKinnon, far from resting on his laurels, is looking to make the most out of the months that remain of his term. Council will reconvene in September, at which point the councilman hopes to focus on improving Everett Square and Glendale Square.
“We have already started this process and I would like to see this come true,” he said.
He also hopes that Council continues to operate effectively and professionally after his departure.
“I hope that new [councilors] can act on behalf of the people so that the citizens of Everett can move forward,” he said. “We have to teach [councilors] right off the bat how it’s done up there and how it works so they can serve their constituencies and do the things they were put there to do.”
Councilor McKinnon wishes Candidate Le the best as the new Ward 4 Councilor, provided he wins, and said he is open to helping him learn the ropes.
“He can come to the meetings and sit next to me and I’ll teach him everything I know,” he said. “By January, he should be ready to rock and roll.”
As for what’s next for Councilor McKinnon come January, he isn’t committing to anything solid just yet.
“I think I may go off into the sunset and see what other chapters I can write in my life,” he said. “It’s time to do my own thing now.”
“It’s been a pleasure serving with my colleagues on the Council,” he continued. “It’s been a pleasure serving the citizens of Everett.”