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Christenson announces run for Malden mayor

Posted by Matt Byrne  November 4, 2010 10:04 AM

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gary2.jpg Gary Christenson, Ward 1 city councilor, yesterday announced his candidacy for mayor of Malden, he said in a phone interview.

Christenson seeks to replace Mayor Richard C. Howard, whose term expires next year, and who announced Tuesday that he would not be seeking reelection.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Christenson, 42, said he has begun organizing a campaign staff - currently comprised of close friends, family, and neighbors  - and plans to embark on a listening tour around the city..

"I'm going to try to get out in the community, and find out what people are thinking, and what they think we should do with the future, and put it all together," he said.

Christenson has served the city since Howard, then in his first term, appointed him to the School Committee in 1999. After serving four years,  Christenson was elected to the City Council in 2003, replacing longtime councilor Eleanor Cushing, and has represented Ward 1 ever since.

In a phone interview Tuesday, City Council President Paul DiPietro threw his support behind Christenson, a day ahead of his colleague's formal announcement.

"Gary Christenson has expressed some interest in it, and I would support him," DiPietro said. "I think he has his hand on the pulse of the city."

The listening tour will come ahead of the formal campaign kickoff, scheduled for the spring, Christenson said. Fund-raising efforts will begin sooner.

Christenson said it is too early to detail his position on some specific civic issues, but a letter  introducing him as a candidate that he released describes commitments to support public safety, education, citizen participation in government, and accountability.

In it, he identifies what he called "the four Cs, communication, committment, community, and character." 

"Public safety will be of the utmost importance to a Christenson administration with a particular focus on community involvement and identifying the specific roots that are the source of many of our problems," the flyer says.

Some of Christenson's positions and issues will be influenced by what he hears from the citizens, he said.

"I will try get into different neighborhoods throughout the city, to try to find out what is on people's minds, what are the issues, and listen to people and see how we can solve them," he said.

To be successful, Christenson's campaign will have to raise between $100,000 and $200,000, he estimated, a price tag he said was "expensive."

Fund-raising is the "least thing I like to do in this [line of] service," he said. "Believe me, we're going to try to take advantage of every social network and tool out there, which is a little more cost-friendly."

According to his website, Christenson is a product of the Malden Public Schools who went on to earn his bachelor's degree and a Master of Public Administration degree from Suffolk University in 1992. He later attended law school at Suffolk and passed the Massachusetts bar in 2005.

From 1994 to 1997, Christenson worked as a budget analyst, revenue director, and special assistant to the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee. In 1998, he became budget director at the office of Middlesex Sheriff James V. DiPaula, where he oversees a $70 million budget and helps manage the Cambridge Jail and Billerica House of Correction.

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