An Office Revived: An Interview with the new Mayor, Shannon Lundin

Mayor Shannon Lundin with daughters Laneigh & Oliviah.
Mayor Shannon Lundin with daughters Laneigh & Oliviah.
An Office Revived: An Interview with the new Mayor, Shannon Lundin
By: Alexandra Gandolfo
February 2, 2014
Charlestown is known for many things, but especially for its community. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, this tiny town knows its roots - and if you’re a true Townie then it means it is here they will always stay. Although too small to have a legal mayor, the Townie Association Inc. recently revived a community tradition, Mayor of Charlestown, where the chosen candidates sell their votes and the best salesman wins. Shannon Lundin, the current Mayor of Charlestown, is a popular and involved member of the community. A single mother and lifelong resident of Charlestown, Shannon became the 17th Mayor of Charlestown in June 2013, succeeding Debbie Lang after a 20-year gap. Open about her history of drug abuse, Lundin became sober and is currently paying it forward by sitting on the board for Charlestown Against Drugs (CHAD) and actively aiding the community through the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC) at the MGH. We chatted this week about what it means to be from Charlestown, her upcoming trip to Ireland, and the future ahead. 
What is your favorite thing about Charlestown? 
My favorite thing is the loyalty and strong sense of community, especially when something traumatizing or negative happens. We’re good at coming together and carrying other’s burdens. 
What are some things you’re involved with in the Charlestown community? 
I work for the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC) at MGH, where I help those who are in the grips of addiction or in recovery connect to the appropriate level of care and help the family members who have loved ones that struggle with substance use disorder. I struggled with addiction for 10-12 years and got clean at 25. I’ve luckily been blessed enough to be clean and to use what was meant for my harm, for the good of others. I’m on the board for Charlestown Against Drugs (CHAD), and I try to have a lot of activities for those in the recovery community with cookouts, pizza parties, and dances. I am also part of planning and organizing CSAC/CHAD annual vigil for those whose lives were lost to their battle with addiction. I have had the privilege of working with the youth in this community on CSAC’s Turn It Around campaign which is a campaign around the dangers of prescription drug use. I believe in paying it forward- you reap what you sow, 
and I try to sow seeds of goodness to help others and be a good person. I don’t want to be remembered for how I died, I want to be remembered of how I lived. Charlestown has the highest rate of overdose in one square mile and I think that could have been me, for this very reason I try to make it a point to educate and train the Charlestown community along with anyone else who is interested on signs & symptoms and overdose prevention basics, as well as train and enroll in Narcan. In 2012 the Charlestown BMC court started its first official drug court which I am the treatment coordinator for the drug court team and I had the opportunity to be at the table for the beginning conversations for this new alternative to jail for those who struggle with addiction and in and out of the court systems. 
As a part of winning Mayor, you won a trip to Ireland. How excited are you for that experience? What are you most excited to see? 
I’m so excited! My grandma’s from Kerry Ireland and she came over when she was 18 using her cousin’s ID. I’ve never been before but it’s on my bucket list and the fact that I was awarded this honor by the Charlestown community makes it even better. I’m taking my oldest daughter Laneigh who is 14 and I’m in the process of researching possible family members out there. I’m excited about going back to my roots and more excited to have the experience with my daughter, I really can’t pick one thing, but the Ring of Kerry, the rolling green hills, the castles. All of it!!! 
What aspect of the community do you think needs the most attention at the moment? 
I feel that the youth in the community need the most focus. I think a lot of families- a lot of kids come from one parent homes or are being raised by grandparents. Growing up in Charlestown we have a reputation for being tough and sometimes taught not to show feelings or weakness- at least that’s how I felt growing up. We need to help the young people regarding drugs, alcohol, violence and the importance of a good education and setting and achieving healthy goals for their future. They are the future. 
What is your favorite way to inspire Charlestown pride and spirit? 
I always like to encourage and be supportive of Charlestown organizations, businesses, and events and be part of rallying everyone together to focus on Charlestown’s best asset – its people!!!! The pride and spirit of Charlestown is always its people. 
When you think of home, what do you picture? 
I picture walking down the street and knowing everyone, stopping to talk to each person along the way. I think of Townies sweatshirts and shamrock stickers on cars. I think of the Monument. My mother grew up in Monument Square and that’s where my grandparents lived for quite a few years so I was always up there as a little girl,. Charlestown you’re my home!!!! 
Now that Marty Walsh will be succeeding Mayor Menino, what do you hope he can help accomplish for Charlestown? 
During the election I felt like either candidate would have been a great mayor, I was in favor of both. To be honest I was torn. I identify with Marty on many different levels- his parents are from Ireland, his recovery, and cancer (my mother passed away from cancer). He’s a new kind of flavor for the city of Boston, and I believe he will follow through with his promises and ideas. I have high hopes for him. 
What’s your favorite thing about Parade Week – some memories? 
More recently the past 2 years I have really enjoyed ‘Painting the Town: Red, White, & Blue” – last year my living room and kitchen was filled with hundreds of balloons while staying out until 1 or 2 in the morning helping the rest of the Townie Association make sure that each and every pole had balloons along the Parade Route. I also love going shopping to get the perfect parade day outfit for my two daughters and myself. I love seeing people who moved out of the town but always come back for the parade week festivities. When I was a little girl I thought I was special because my mom told me I got to watch the parade twice. We use to watch it on Bunker Hill St because we lived on Allston St, and then we would rush to my grandmother’s at 24 Monument Sq to watch the parade all over again. Miss those days.


On Saturday, March 15, 2014 the Townie Association in partnership with Charlestown Youth Football & Cheering League will be hosting the “Townie Toast” at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus (545 Medford Street) in Charlestown, MA. Doors will open at 8PM. 

The Townie Toast is a sendoff and a salute to the 2013-14 Mayor of Charlestown, Shannon Lundin – where she will give a “State of the Town” address. It will also be the official kickoff for the 2014 Mayor of Charlestown Race. Interested candidates will have the opportunity to “throw their name in the hat” at the event to run for Mayor and submit applications.

In celebration for Saint Patrick’s Day, the event will feature an Irish concert by Ireland the Band, Irish step-dancing from Charlestown dancers of the Woods School of Irish Dance, and Charlestown’s own DJ Smokeshow, Michael Cain. There will be lots of raffles and an Irish themed door prize. Don't forget your green! 

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For tickets, call Sean Boyle at 617 784 4519 or email Shawna Dole at smdole11@gmail.com 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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