LYNN — Tuesday, Jan. 3, marked the end of Ward 3 City Councilor Coco Alinsug’s first year in office. In an interview with The Item, Alinsug reflected on a year of work in city government and his goals for 2023.
At almost any public event in Lynn — from the city’s gay pride festival to Lynn Police’s bike safety obstacle course — Alinsug can be seen chatting with the public, shaking hands and taking selfies.
Community engagement has been one of Alinsug’s leading principals in his first year in city council. Alinsug said that his Ward 3 team — a volunteer force of precinct captains, youth interns and Ward 3 residents — helps him identify the neighborhood’s needs.
“I am very proud and honored of my Ward 3 team. We have precinct captains, and I campaigned to have an internship program,” Alinsug said. “It’s all about empowering people. I am a strong believer in teamwork, and I can better serve if I’m with a team or a group of people. Our city has a lot of talented individuals that would love to serve our city, so that’s my way of empowering the residents of Lynn and making them part of our decisions and implementations.”
Alinsug pointed to the Kiley Park restoration project as one of his proudest achievements in his first year as a first-term city councilor.
This year, Alinsug formed the Kiley Park Task Force, a neighborhood-led committee tasked with deciding how to spend the park’s portion of the city’s approximate $18 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for parks and playgrounds.
“I advocated really hard for Kiley Park to be one of the parks in the city to receive part of the $18 million dollars in funding,” Alinsug said. “I made sure that there was input from all the residents, and that’s why we created the Kiley Park Task Force.”
This Saturday, the Kiley Park Task Force will meet to discuss the possibility of building a dog park in Kiley Park, as suggested by task force members. Alinsug said that the park remains one of his top priorities going into the new year.
“Whether we like it or not, people are bringing their dogs there even though they’re not allowed. But there’s only one dog park in the whole city of Lynn. And it’s located in the Western part of the city,” Alinsug said. “It’s the big ticket item basically. I want people to really pay attention to the progress of Kiley Park because it’s a big investment from the city, it needs an overhaul, and it will be a park that will cater to everybody. When I say everybody, I mean everybody will enjoy that park.”
Alinsug’s goals for 2023 also include creating a cultural exchange program for students and young people in the neighborhood, involving frequent museum trips and cultural education programs.
“I want everybody in Ward 3 to know that their city councilor is working for not only the things that they could see like the roads and the trash problems and the tree and the wires, but also for their development as individuals,” Alinsug said.
Alinsug moved to Lynn from Los Angeles 20 years ago, after immigrating from the Philippines only five years prior. He said that shifting from one culture to another at a young age gave him an appreciation for youth development programs.
“I am somebody that is a product of a foreign exchange student program. I’m somebody that grew up in a different culture, so I’m always an advocate of youth development,” Alinsug said.
As Lynn’s first openly gay city councilor, Alinsug said that aside from receiving a couple of subtle homophobic remarks in the early days of his campaign, he was met primarily with support and appreciation from the community.
“The city is very accepting and very accommodating. And even some of our senior citizens will say, ‘Oh, councilor, how’s your husband doing? Oh, I love you guys,’” he said.
Alinsug added that the support he receives from the community likely comes from the fact that he remains dedicated to transparency and honesty.
“I am an open guy, and what you see is what you get. This is me — either you have your own beliefs or you don’t, but one thing I can tell you is, I’m very honest and I’m very straightforward. I’m always transparent,” Alinsug said.
Alinsug said that he intends to run for re-election and aims to continue following through on the promises he made to the constituents that elected him.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of being the Ward 3 city councilor. It’s an honor to be their counselor, and I really don’t want to fail them. I promised them a lot of things during the campaign, and I’m very proud to say that I am accomplishing those things with every minute of my time as councilor. I have a lot of exciting plans for the ward moving forward. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg,” Alinsug said.