About James Ostis

Ph.D candidate in Public Policy. Avid Lowell volunteer. Lowell Heritage Partnership President. Assistant to the Mayor.

Martin Luther King Day in Lowell


Ninety years ago today, January 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia.  For 20 years, the Lura Smith Fund at Middlesex Community  has celebrated his life and legacy with an annual Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Tsongas Arena.


Last year was Lura Smith’s final year as the event organizer as she planned to turn over responsibility for the event to a new generation.  The theme of the 2018 MLK Day celebration was fittingly “Passing the Ball”.


The 2019 Martin Luther King Day celebration will be held on Monday, January 21st, but first let’s take a look back at some photos from last year’s event.



Following the ceremony, guests were invited to attend the UMass Lowell River Hawks vs. University of New Hampshire Wildcats Basketball Game.



An Ambassadorial Visit to City Hall


Mayor William Samaras, Dr. Carlos Veiga, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Dr. Julio de Carvalho

In 2012, a group of Lowell High School students went on a field trip of a lifetime to visit the country of Cabo Verde (also known as Cape Verde).  These 17 students under the guidance of Lowell High School teacher Dr. Julio de Carvalho enjoyed the experience of visiting the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa so much that they proposed establishing a sister city relationship between Lowell and the city of São Domingos.  On October 9, 2012, the Lowell City Council passed a resolution to establish the partnership.  The gesture was a fitting one as Dr. de Carvalho had been named as a founding member of Mayor Patrick Murphy‘s sister-cities taskforce earlier in that year.

A new group of Lowell High School students made a similar trip to Cabo Verde in 2015, and a third group is scheduled to go next month.


Several ambassadors have signed the Lowell City Hall guestbook over the years

In recognition of this bond between Lowell and his home country, the current Ambassador to the United States from Cabo Verde, Dr. Carlos Veiga came to Lowell on Monday, January 14th, to visit Lowell High School and Lowell City Hall.

Veiga, who also served as the prime minister of Cabo Verde from April 4, 1991 to July 29, 2000, began the day at the high school where he met with Head of School Marianne Busteed and conducted sessions with both the Black Unity Club and Portuguese Club.  Dr. Veiga was presented with a Leadership and commitment to social and Economic advancement award by the Head of School.

Following a brief tour of Downtown Lowell, Ambassador Veiga met with Mayor William Samaras and City Manager Eileen Donoghue at the Mayor’s Office in City Hall.  After discussing ways in which the city can continue to foster its good relationship with Cabo Verde, the Ambassador was presented with a key to the city by Mayor Samaras.


Dr. Veiga is the sixth individual to receive a key to the city during Mayor Samaras’s term joining Margo BehrakisPatrice LumumbaShigeaki MoriJohn Wooding, and Drew Weber.

Nominate a Lowell Leader


The International Institute of New England (IINE) is celebrating its 100th anniversary!

In recognition of 100 years of serving newcomers to Lowell, IINE will thank the local community for a century of support by honoring 100 Lowellians who have influenced, led, and been part of Lowell’s vibrant immigrant community.

IINE invites the Greater Lowell community to help name 100 of the most admirable leaders from Lowell’s immigrant community who have done great things in their fields, as well as locally born Lowellians who have supported immigrants and immigrant issues.

Anyone from the community may nominate people they think deserve to be recognized, and those selected will be honored at a public gala at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on May 1, 2019.

Mayor Samaras is a former board member of the International Institute and has worked closely with the organization over the past year, including projects such as Pay for Success Program and Welcoming Week Lowell.

The deadline for nominations is January 31st.  Please visit iine.org/100 for more information and to submit your nominee(s)!


Mayor Samaras with Emma Tobin and Rogers Muyanja of the International Institute at CMAA’s 34th Annual Gala

A Collaborative Corridor



With so many recent tales of innovation and entrepreneurship success stories, there certainly is a lot happening along Route 3.

And since 2012, the Middlesex 3 Coalition has been a key contributor to that activity in the City of Lowell and our neighboring towns of Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Lexington, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford.  The coalition communities share a common goal of fostering economic development, job growth and retention, diversification of  the tax base and enhancement of quality of life.  Members include stakeholders in local government, business, finance, education and development who have  combined resources to promote the competitive advantages of the region and advance the economic vitality of the corridor.

mayorThe Middlesex 3 Coalition held their first “What’s Happening in Middlesex 3” meeting of 2019 at UMass Lowell’s Innovation Hub on Thursday, January 10th.  These monthly events provide a chance for the membership of Middlesex 3 to learn about updates on the goings on in each of the nine member communities.

Mayor William Samaras was on hand to both welcome guests to the city as well as tout the recent advancements in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, noting that 110 Canal St was now officially 100 percent occupied, that Winn Development was progressing on their mixed use buildings–the first new private new construction in the district, the installation of the signature bridge that will allow for travel between both sides of the canal, and of course the continuing construction of the massive Lowell Judicial Center.


While economic development is sometimes looked at as a competition among municipalities, the truth is each city and town still has to exist within a larger regional ecosystem.  The collaborative approach taken by Middlesex 3 helps ensure that communities and cross-community stakeholders work as partners in developing the entire Route 3 corridor.

“In Lowell we know that public-private partnerships are a most important part of our success” the Mayor noted during his remarks, “By us working together, we will all be stronger and have a better future.”


Middlesex 3’s executive director, Stephanie Cronin provided the guests with a brief overview of the organization.


UMass Lowell’s Vice Provost for Innovation and Workforce Development, Steve Tello and Associate Vice Chancellor, Industry Partnerships & Economic Development Arlene Parquette discussed new initiatives for corporate partnerships with the university, including a tour of the medical device incubator M2D2, the technology accelerator in the Innovation Hub, and the new Fabric Discovery Center, a collaborative research center for development and testing of smart materials.


Guests also heard a presentation on Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) by Lianna Kushi, the executive director of EforAll’s Lowell-Lawrence location.  Founded in 2011 as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, EforAll is a non-profit organization who is accelerating economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities.  As noted on this blog, several EforAll graduates have opened new businesses in Lowell in recent years.  Mayor Samaras is scheduled to visit EforAll later this month.


The M3 coalition recently hosted a similar event at Middlesex Community College’s new Donahue Academic Arts Center back in October, which was attended by Lowell City Council Vice Chairman, Vesna Nuon.  The October meeting featured updates on important transportation and infrastructure projects ongoing in the City of Lowell.


What’s Happening in Middlesex 3/October 2018 w/ Vice Chair Vesna Nuon

m3kickoffThe Middlesex 3 Coalition was launched in October 2012 as a new type of nonprofit organization supported by the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development that would bring together a wide range of stakeholders including municipal leaders, colleges and universities, as well as real-estate professionals and nonprofit organizations.

Originally consisting of five communities (Burlington, Bedford, Billerica, Chelmsford and Lowell), the group has now expanded along the highway as far north as Tyngsborough and south as Lexington.  Former City Manager Bernie Lynch was one of the founding board members of the group and continues to support the effort as a sponsor and emeritus board member.


Bernie Lynch at Middlesex 3 (Photo Credit: Jen Myers)

The wide range of projects that Middlesex 3 has undertaken have included efforts to improve infrastructure, obtain grants, streamline permitting, identify available parcels for development and advocate for economic development legislation.  The group has also hosted roundtable and panel discussions on important regional public policy topics including the North South Rail Link.  The 2013 Small Business Resource Fair hosted by Middlesex 3 at CrossPoint was featured in the original Room 50 blog.

In 2016, the City of Lowell and seven other Middlesex 3 communities entered into a community compact with the Baker Administration to look into transportation issues along the corridor.

The core values of Middlesex 3 are:

  • Regional collaboration to benefit the communities
  • Commitment to quality of life, education, employment opportunities and diversity for our residents
  • Sustainability
  • Commitment to education
  • Thought leadership
  • Alignment of business goals with community goals
  • Receptivity and customer service

With a focus on regionalization, transportation, and economic development, Middlesex 3’s mission truly aligns with many of the priorities that Mayor Samaras has sought to champion during his term in office.   To learn more about the Middlesex 3 Coalition be sure to check out www.middlesex3.com/ 

Thursday Night is Fight Night!


Lowell is a city with a rich sporting history.

But the New England Golden Gloves is a tradition in Lowell like no other.

For over 70 years, the New England Gloves have entertained fight fans from around the region right in Downtown Lowell at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

Legendary names such as Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, and of course Lowell’s own Micky Ward have all participated locally in the Gloves, which held its first edition in Lowell in 1947.


The henrimarchandGolden Gloves Tournament is open to amateur boxers aged 16 and older.  Since the first Golden Gloves tournament in 1923, the Golden Gloves of America, Inc. and its member franchises have provided an opportunity and environment for young athletes to develop lifetime skills. Hundreds of dedicated administrators, coaches, trainers and counselors have unselfishly spent countless times and effort to assist young people in the development of personal character and athletic skills. The Golden Gloves program has led the way in promoting amateur boxing in the United States and has produced the majority of competitors for America’s boxing teams in the Pan-Am and Olympic Games.

While Lowell has hosted the New England championship for the past seven decades, the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions was also held at the Auditorium twice, in 1973 and 1995. Every year the winners of the New England Golden Gloves receive invitations to the Tournament of Champions.


A fighter inside and outside of the ring

Many of the budding pugilists that compete at the New England Golden Gloves get their training at the legendary West End Gym in Lowell under the tutelage of Arthur Ramalho.  The gym was of course featured in the Hollywood hit, The Fighter, based on the real life story of Lowell brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund.  

There’s a City Hall connection too–former Mayor Patrick Murphy trained at Ramalho’s West End Gym as a young boy with his twin brother Dan, who would go on to box in the Silver Mittens and Golden Gloves.  Patrick’s own fighting career continued with winning the intercollegiate boxing championship in Ireland and serving on the Lowell City Council.


Elizabeth Warren at Lowell’s West End Gym in 2012

This year, Lowell’s Golden Gloves will be held on each and every Thursday night from opening night on January 7th to the New England regional championship bouts on March 7th.  Visit www.lowellgoldengloves.com/ for more information!

Senator Kennedy


Congratulations to former Mayor and current Lowell City Councilor, Edward J. Kennedy, on adding another impressive title to his resume: State Senator for the First Middlesex District.

After winning election to the office last November, Senator Kennedy was sworn in with his colleagues from all around the Commonwealth at the start of 191st session of the Massachusetts General Court.


Ed Kennedy and his family with Senate President Karen E. Spilka of Ashland

The State Senate also returned to a fully renovated Senate chamber after spending the bulk of the previous session meeting in the Gardner Auditorium.



First Middlesex District

Kennedy replaces another former Lowell Mayor and current City Manager Eileen Donoghue who had represented Lowell and the other five communities of the district (Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsborough, and Westford) from January 2011 until her appointment as Lowell City Manager in April.

You’ll still see Councilor Kennedy in action on this blog as he intends to continue to serve on the Lowell City Council for the time being until all of the votes on the Lowell High School project are completed.  To follow Senator Kennedy’s work on Beacon Hill check out his office’s official facebook page, www.facebook.com/senatoredkennedy/


2018 in Review


And just like that, Year One of the Mayoral Term of  Mayor William “Bill” Samaras is in the books.  As we look forward to all that 2019 will have in store for the City of Lowell, here’s a look back at the Year that was 2018, as told through Return to Room 50.


January of course saw the inauguration of Mayor Samaras and the new City Council and the eventual launch of this blog.  For those who are new here, the blog is called “Return to Room 50” as a tribute to the original Room 50 Blog which covered the term of Mayor Patrick Murphy in 2012 and 2013.  Room 50 is the # of the Mayor’s Office.


In February, Return to Room 50 kicked off with a retrospective piece on Lowell: The Educative City, inspired in part by the efforts of the new Lowell: City of Learning effort.  Although the bulk of the celebration took place the following month, Lowell Women’s Week 2018 also kicked off in February with a breakfast honoring several distinguished women from the city.


There were a couple of posts in March that highlighted important updates from the city government including coverage of a downtown business meeting and an overview of infrastructure work underway on Thorndike St.  A New Workforce Development Program called Pay for Success was also launched that month by several community organizations including Coalition for a Better Acre, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, and the International Institute of New England.  Jack Kerouac‘s 96th birthday was celebrated with a marathon reading of On The Road at the Pollard Memorial Library. Mayor Samaras ran into a some of his former students at the ribbon cutting for Bambu Lowell


The headline of April was of course the announcement and later ceremonial swearing-in of new city manager, Eileen Donoghue.  April was also officially dubbed “Cambodian Month” and featured celebrations at Clemente Park and UMass Lowell.  We also saw the return of a now-annual favorite, Points of Light at Ecumenical Plaza.  The Boys and Girls Club expanded their teen space and The Foundation hosted a mixer at Entrepreneurship for All. Mayor Samaras also attended a Donuts for Delegates event at CBA and participated in the annual Take Back the Night event.


May began with the bright lights of the Cox Bridge illumination, the highest profile undertaking of the Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative to date.  That celebration coincided with Doors Open Lowell and the annual Community Excellence Awards hosted by Lowell Heritage Partnership and Lowell National Historical Park.  Ribbons were cut at Purple Carrot Bread Company and Kravant Boutique, while Public Matters celebrated 10 years with a panel discussion to discuss the state of the city today in the first of a new Public Matters speaker’s series. This month also saw several high profile visits to the Mill City including Governor Charlie Baker’s attendance of the grand opening of UTEC’s Innovation HubA Memorial Day visit by a Japanese Scholar for Peace, and MassHousing’s executive director celebrating 32 years of the MVHP.  But one of the highest profile visitors was former governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis who chaired a Town Hall meeting in the Mayor’s Reception Room regarding the North South Rail Link.


As the summer approached in June, the events and initiatives only heated up for the Mayor’s office. First, the city celebrated the 40th birthday of Lowell National Historical Park  with an entire weekend full of events in early June.  Professor John Wooding was presented a Key to the City upon his official retirement from UMass Lowell.  Lowell Walks kicked off its season.    Acre Fest turned a Lucky 7 years old while the annual African Festival celebrated its 19th edition.   We got a sneak peak of MCC’s New Academic Arts Center.  A Midsummer’s Dream Came True.  The city successfully raised funds for improvements to Kerouac Park through crowdfunding and the Mayor’s Office helped host a citizenship seminar at the Lowell Senior Center through Project Citizenship.  Baseball season was in the swing of things and the Mayor showed off his athletic chops by throwing out the first pitch at the Lowell Spinners’ home opener. It was a good job, but not quite the perfect game that Brian Martin had thrown 50 years earlier.  But the hottest party of the summer was certainly the CBA’s 6 Degrees of the Acre at the historic Ayer Mansion.


July in Lowell means Fireworks!  The Fourth of July ensured Month # 7 would start out with a bang. It ended the same way with yet another wonderful edition of the Lowell Folk Festival during the last full weekend of July.


The summer months in Room 50 were headlined by Flag Raising Season.  Rather than spread them out through the year, I’ll outline them all here.  2018 featured 19 ethnic flag raisings plus the first ever Pride Month flag raising in June.  We began with the Afro American and Lithuanian Flag Raising in February, followed by the Irish, Greek, and Ghanaiann flag raisings in March.  Our Cambodian flag raising kicked off April which also featured the flags of the Armenian, Zimbabwean, and Sierra Leonean communities.  As we moved into May and June, we had our firsts–the first Haitian Flag raising in Lowell in Lowell, and the aforementioned Pride Flag raising on June 1st.  Portuguese, Franco American, and Colombian flag raisings rounded out June before July began with our third newcomers, the Congolese community.  August wrapped up flag raising season with the Puerto Rican, Lao, Indian, and Liberian Flag Raisings.  


The sunny summer month of August was an obviously good time to launch the Solarize (Plus) Lowell program. The design of Lowell’s National Park quarter was unveiled. Enterprise Bank opened a new Mortgage Center. We welcomed a new Police Chief.  And a little rain did nothing to dampen another wonderful edition of the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival.


The beginning of September marked the start of Welcoming Week Lowell, a new initiative that the mayor’s office participated in launching this past year.   The Lowell Career Center got a new name in MassHire and the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race returned for its third edition.


October saw a visit by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to the Annual Lowell Plan Breakfast, as well as several other great public policy-orientated events in the city such as the Downtown Summit hosted by Department of Community Housing Development (the rare triple ribbon cutting at the Boott Mills certainly showed growth in Lowell’s downtown) and the celebration of Downtown Lowell’s designation as a Great Neighborhood by the American Planning Association.  Our community spaces continued to become more beautiful with the addition of the new Decatur Way Mural and the Element Care Rooftop Garden.   The Harvest Festival returned as Niki Tsongas was celebrated as she neared her departure from the U.S. Congress.  Not going anywhere after 40 years in business is Merrimack Repertory Theatre which celebrated its birthday with a party in the Mayor’s Reception Room in October.


There was a lot to be thankful for in November.  For example, Lowell was designated one of only 29 national urban wildlife refuges in the United States, the CMAA celebrated 34 years of service to the Greater Lowell community, and Michael Dukakis was back in town again, this time riding around in 1940’s Hudson. But the big events of November coincided with the coming holiday season.  First City of Lights once again brightened both the skyline and the general mood of Downtown Lowell with another wonderful festive kickoff to the holiday season.  But our office was particularly involved in the return of a more recent tradition, the Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth, which raised nearly $18,000 in its second edition this year as Mayor Samaras answered the challenge from former Mayor Edward Kennedy (who won election to the State Senate during this month!)


Which brings us to December. This month began with the dedication of UMass Lowell’s Southeast Asian Digital Archives project at O’Leary Library  and also featured a pair of farewells to both retiring Congresswoman Tsongas and a dear friend to the City of Lowell, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, who made his last public appearance as secretary in Lowell at the Opportunity Zones summit at the ICC. And of course we celebrated the holiday spirit.  Just like every year, everyone was invited to the annual Lowell City Hall Holiday Open House on December 11th and our blog went into the throwback machine for a two-parted holiday treat on Christmas Eve.


Speaking of throwbacks, while the blog primarily focused on this chronological recapping of the year that was, there were a few historical pieces sprinkled throughout the year.  In addition to the Educative City post mentioned earlier, we also looked back at the Lowell-hosted 2006 World Curling Championship (in honor of the Olympics), and Lowell’s history in the wild world of professional wrestling (in honor of Wrestlemania, naturally).

All together there are currently 121 blog posts from the first year of Return to Room 50.  Statistically speaking, the top five most popular posts of 2018 were (counting down)

For anyone who took the time to read even a single blog post on Return to Room 50 this year, I want to take this time to thank you sincerely for your interest and support.  I look forward to more great stories to tell in 2019!






2018-2019 City Council Inauguration and Swearing In of Mayor Samaras


As we prepare to kick off year two of Return to Room 50, here’s a flashback to the very first day of the term of Mayor William J. Samaras, the 91st mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts.

The 2018-2019 Lowell City Council and School Committee were inaugurated on January 2nd, 2018.

Prior to the meeting, guests and dignitaries assembled in the Mayor’s Reception Room.  In addition to the four who currently serve on the City Council several other former mayors were in attendance including (then) State Senator Eileen Donoghue (1998-2002), Bill Martin (2006-2008), and Patrick Murphy (2012-2014).



Patrick Murphy talks with outgoing Mayor Edward Kennedy


Returning Councilor Vesna Nuon, new Councilor Karen Cirillo, and former Assistant to Mayor Patrick Murphy, Jen Myers


James Ostis, Patrick Murphy, Vesna Nuon (Photo: Jen Myers)


Outgoing Mayor Edward Kennedy and his family


Mayor Samaras receives his boutonniere

The dignitaries then proceeded to the Council Chamber for the Inauguration ceremony.


Per custom, the City Clerk presides over the inaugural meeting.


City Clerk Michael Geary


After the Clerk explained the format of morning’s proceedings, Lowell High School’s chorus and ROTC Color Guard performed the national anthem.


The City Clerk read an official notice of election results to signify the nine city councilors that had been elected in the November election.  The elected councilor’s names were then called in a roll call by the Assistant City Clerk before the official Oath of Offices was administered by The Honorable Stacey J. Fortes, 1st Justice of Lowell District Court.


Following the oath of office, the new council is invited to sign into the Clerk’s register.


The first order of business in any term is the election of Mayor.  Under Plan E government, the mayor is one of nine city councilors elected to his or her post by a vote of the City Council as the first official business of the two year term.

William Samaras was officially chosen as the next mayor of Lowell through a vote of his colleagues by a 5-4 margin during his third term on the Lowell City Council.  As the last name in alphabetical order, Mayor Samaras actually got to cast the deciding vote himself.




Following Justice Fortes’ administration of the Mayor’s Oath of Office, Mayor William Samaras made his inaugural address to the City.


Text from Mayor Samaras’s Remarks:

First, I want to thank my fellow councilors for their support in allowing me to be the mayor of the City of Lowell.  Since coming on the city council, I have come to realize one thing.  I am part of a team.  And each of the members of the council is important to the well-being of the city.  We are all here to represent our constituents.  However, in a number of cases, we have a difference of opinion in how to reach our goals.  But that difference of opinion and our willingness to work together gives us the strength to do what is best for the city. 

I realize the position of mayor of the City of Lowell is in some ways in ceremonial, as we do have a city manager who is the chief executive for the city.  But the role of Mayor is an integral position of civic leadership in the Plan E system in that he or she becomes the voice of the city council.  Nobody embodied the importance of that role more than our outgoing mayor, Edward Kennedy.  I think we can all agree, Mayor Kennedy’s leadership truly made a difference.  If it weren’t for his efforts to ensure the people’s voices were heard on the future of Lowell High School, we would be in a very different position today.  In November, those voices were heard loud and clear.

Now that the voters have given this city council guidance on the location, it is up to this city council to ensure that we build the best Lowell High School that we can.  That is why I support Downtown Option 3. 

The question of Lowell High School has always been more than just a political issue for me.  For 19 years, Lowell High School was my passion and my life’s work.  As the former headmaster of Lowell High School, I can only hope that my background is a benefit to the process and not a hindrance or a problem.  I plan to approach the issue of Lowell High School as mayor as I did as headmaster for 19 years, with an emphasis on equity and opportunity, and always putting the students first. 

That having been said, I realize that the issue of the high school question has been contentious and at times divisive.  I feel that over the next two years we all must work together to bring this community back together. 

There are also many other issues that this city council will have to deal with.  We will continue working on the good work already achieved on public safety and economic development.  As a city councilor for the past four years, I have seen that much of the most important work city councilors do is through the subcommittee process.  With that experience in mind, as mayor, I propose the establishment of several new subcommittees to meet the evolving needs of our community. 

One would be a subcommittee on senior citizen issues to ensure that some of our most vulnerable citizens have a voice in this administration.  Likewise, we need to also establish a subcommittee to deal with issues related to nonprofit organizations.  In order for Lowell to thrive we need ongoing constructive communication between the city and these important partners. 

We have also already established an ad hoc subcommittee that is looking at Lowell’s election laws and processes.  Government works best when it is reflective of the people it serves.  As the mayor I am fully committed to seeing that vision realized. 

Finally, I would like to end by talking about partnerships.  Lowell is very fortunate to have some of the strongest partnerships in the Commonwealth.  Historically, because of these partnerships, Lowell has positioned itself to be one of the best midsized cities in the country.  And those partnerships that I speak about include the Lowell Plan—a group of local businessmen and businesswoman who have come together to work towards the best interests of the city. 


Together we have achieved some very important economic initiatives including the building of the LeLacheur Park and the Tsongas Arena.  We also have an important partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has been instrumental in helping many major companies relocate to the city.  Middlesex Community College has been an agent of opportunity and provided the region with a trained workforce that possesses the skills needed for the 21st century.  As the mayor I will work to ensure that these partnerships are maintained and strengthened, as I feel they are a vital component of what makes Lowell successful.

Let me close by saying, I do realize that as mayor I am just one of nine.  But I do believe that in working together, this new council will create the atmosphere needed for Lowell’s future growth and development. I have often spoke of my mentor, Dr. Patrick Mogan.  Pat had a phrase that has stuck with me for many years—it was always about taking things to “the next level.”  Together, I feel this city council will be able to take the City of Lowell to the next level, and I am humbled to be tasked with being a part of it. 


Following the Mayor’s speech, the next order of business was the election of the Council’s vice chair.  The vice chair is chosen in the same format as mayor, with a majority of five votes needed for the appointment.


City Councilor Vesna Nuon who had served on the council from 2012-2013 and returned after a four year absence by topping the ticket in the 2017 election was chosen as the council’s vice chair.




Freshman Councilor Karen Cirillo joined the long-established tradition of signing the inside of her council desk.


Immediately following the City Council inauguration is a similar ceremony for the School Committee.  The Mayor is added to the six elected school committee members as the chair of that body.


The membership then chooses a vice chair among the remaining committee members.  Jackie Doherty was named as the vice chair of the 2018-2019 Lowell School Committee.


School Committee Vice Chair Jackie Doherty

At the conclusion of the formal ceremonies, the Mayor hosted an inaugural luncheon at Cobblestones for friends and family of the new council, as one last celebration before getting to work.  The first meeting of the 2018-2019 term was less than six hours later.


The 90th and 91st Mayors of Lowell, Massachusetts


A Holiday Treat: Lowell’s Night Before Christmas

The City of Lowell has many Holiday traditions, both relatively new and old.  But here is a classic video from RichardHowe.com in 2012 that has truly stood the test of time:

Now while many prominent Lowellians are featured in that video including City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Former City Manager Bernie Lynch, and even yours truly, Mayor William Samaras unfortunately did not get to participate.  So therefore, here’s an extra bonus video from back in 2006!

Happy Holidays Lowell from Room 50!


Thank You Secretary Ash!


We’re going to take a brief point of personal privilege to stretch the coverage area of Return to Room 50 to salute the departing Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Jay Ash.  Immediately upon joining Governor Baker’s administration in January 2015, Secretary Ash, the former longtime city manager in Chelsea, proved himself to be a champion for Massachusetts Gateway Cities, including of course Lowell.  Jay Ash was a great friend to Lowell and was featured several times on this blog, here are a few photos of only some of the secretary’s many visits to our beloved Mill City.


Touring the Hamilton Canal District in May 2015


Hosting a listening session for the Governor’s Economic Development Bill at MCC in 2015


A Discussion with former US Labor Secretary Bob Reich at UMass Lowell in October 2016


Hamilton Canal Innovation District Showcase in 2017


City Manager Eileen Donoghue’s Swearing-In in April 2018


Taking a selfie at the DHCD Downtown Summit in October 2018


Horsepower Technologies Ribbon Cutting in October 2018


Mayor Samaras, City Manager Donoghue, and Secretary Ash at the Opportunity Zones Summit earlier this month