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Friends Having Breakfast

Meet Me in Medford | City Councilor Matt Leming

Updated: Feb 15

Meet Matt Leming, our newly elected city councilor, whose journey is as diverse as the places he's lived! From bouncing around to planting roots in Medford, he's on a mission to improve our city. 

What brought you to Medford, and why do you continue to choose Medford as your home?

I grew up in a military family, so my childhood involved moving around a lot. My dad served in the Navy band as a trumpet player and retired in 2006-07. I was born in Baltimore and lived in various places like San Diego, California, Washington State, and Virginia Beach after my dad's retirement.

Photos, clockwise from upper left: Medford's Unitarian Universalist Church, coffee and pao do queijo at Oasis, the paths at Torbert MacDonald Park, our latest City Council inaugeration.

We spent 11 years in Asheville, North Carolina, where I pursued my education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and then spent three and a half years abroad in the United Kingdom, earning a Ph.D. In 2020, I moved to Medford to take a job at Mass General. Initially, I just wanted a cheap room to live in — living in Greater Boston on a postdoc salary is quite costly!

Being naturally curious and community-oriented, I got involved in housing groups and ended up at the Unitarian Universalist Church, which led me to join the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, where I participated in state-level initiatives for affordable housing. Beyond housing concerns, I joined citizen-led efforts to review and potentially change Medford's charter, which hasn't been done for decades.

The community's dedication to organizing and improving the City made me want to stay in Medford. I wanted to contribute and be an active part of this group of people who are making an effort to make a positive impact.

Can you share some of the initiatives you're considering, or is there a common thread running through your plans?

One shared goal this term is to boost transparency in the City Council. During a discussion at the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, someone mentioned that the Commonwealth’s legislature is one of the least transparent legislative bodies in the U.S. Unfortunately, that lack of transparency often trickles down to the municipal level.

Many of us elected this term are trying to improve things on that front. One challenge is the lack of local news — despite some ongoing efforts, there's no consistently maintained news source. That's why I'm so grateful for people conducting these interviews and writing blog posts – it's a form of local news. There are many grassroots initiatives to establish more. City councilors, including myself, are doing our part by releasing information wherever we can – newsletters, Facebook, Reddit. I maintain a blog that I'm committed to updating every two weeks. It's where I share my thoughts on what's happening at city hall. Also, the City Council Vice President is starting to publish detailed summaries of individual council meetings through council updates. Getting people genuinely engaged and caring about everything in city council meetings is always a challenge, but it impacts their lives way more than they might realize.

Having consistent local news sources would help with polarization. We do have social media, but I learned during the campaign that social media is less crucial in a local election than in a state or national one. People tend to cluster into their own communities. I spent most of my time during the election knocking on doors and having face-to-face conversations — around 7,000 to 8,000 doors, which helped me to break through some of those bubbles and factions people often stick to. So there's a lot to be said for talking to each other in person. That just takes a lot of time and effort.

What are some of your favorite spots around the city? 

I live in South Medford and go to Oasis Cafe nearly every morning. I get a cup of coffee and three or four Bolinho de Chuva, which are little donuts. I'll eat those and sit down and read a magazine. The girls that work the counter there are trying to teach me Brazilian Portuguese.

If I want to clear my mind, my running trail is around MacDonald Park, which loops around the Mystic River and crosses into Somerville. It's such a peaceful green spot by the river. 

Other food spots I enjoy include Alexander's — great folks down there — and Bob's Italian, which has the best eggplant parmesan in Boston. I also love May’s Cafe for Chinese food.

If your best friend told you they were considering a move to Medford. What would you tell them?

Medford is a great community, and I love the people here. I've lived in many different areas, and I’d say if you want a welcoming, intelligent community that's up and coming, then come to Medford.

Like what you’re reading here? Want to know more? Sign up for the 4Squares Newsletter and tune in to more conversations with great Medford neighbors!

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