Arts and Culture are a vital part of a thriving, diverse Boston. Having a strong arts scene in Boston is important to maintaining our City’s place as a top tourist destination. The artists in our City have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 in our City and for that reason we need to help create new ways to help repair and foster our arts & culture scene:
- Create publicly owned arts spaces that allow for revolving art displays and temporary residences.
- Establish formal requirements for the creation of Live music venues, to give entrepreneurs looking to start these spaces clear guidelines of how to open and operate.
- Use CPA funds available to fund Public Art recreation spaces and recreation.
- Create public-private partnerships with landlords to use empty retail space for temporary art installations.
Creating public policy is only half of a City Councilor’s job. Boston residents also need help in their everyday lives, with city departments, neighborhood issues, aging in place, and, over the last year, rental assistance, grants for small businesses, and information about SNAP and food banks. For the last year and a half, I had the opportunity to work for the Boston City Council and take a lot of those calls, and I know that there are ways we can improve. Recovering from COVID-19 is a chance to get services out into our neighborhoods – if you need to pay taxes or in a parking ticket in person, you should be able to do it at your local library. As part of this push for better services, we also need to hire more staff in our City’s public-facing departments like Inspectional Services, where understaffing hampers both residents’ experience and the City’s effectiveness.
Boston has the oldest public high school in the country, and our state can rightly boast to be the place where public schools were invented. Right now our schools aren’t on the cutting edge. Boston spends more than any other school district in the state, but not nearly enough money is being invested in improving future outcomes of Boston public school students. With declining enrollment, Boston needs to create pre-pre-K child care options, deliver on the promise of truly universal pre-K, expand vocational training, and retro-fit or rebuild school buildings.
Childcare costs are a major factor in folks deciding whether and where to raise their families, and I intend to keep Boston a family-friendly city. For years Boston had a universal Pre-K program in theory, but the gap between the number of seats and the demand was wide – there were 1,500 more kids than seats in 2014. That gap is closing, and Boston has a plan to meet all the demand for pre-K seats by 2024. In addition to offering Pre-K for 4 year olds, Boston needs to follow the lead of city’s like New York, and create public programs for 3 year olds.
Our students are being asked to attend class in some of the oldest school buildings in the country. Boston needs to retrofit or replace school buildings that have trouble keeping the heat on in the winter, aren’t equipped to keep anyone cool in the summer, and which don’t have many of the facilities for delivering a 21st century education. Boston needs new school buildings, and it needs to create a clear plan for achieving that goal with the input of parents and the wider City community.
HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
I was part of the City of Boston’s affordable housing team for three and a half years, joining after working for several years in private sector real estate sales and financing. Working for the City I managed the planning, preservation, financing, and development of over 1,000 affordable housing units across the City. I understand how affordable housing is built in Boston, and what we can do to build more. Our entire region is facing a housing shortage, and to solve it we need to create transparent and consistent permitting and zoning processes.
Look for two plans coming soon – my housing plan and my economic development plan.
The civil rights movement we have seen across the country, and the change that has come with it is improving public safety. For there to be public safety, everyone in our City must feel safe. I have three priorities for public safety – ensuring the recently passed reforms work, expanding the existing mental health crisis response program, and expanding body camera use.
I support the training and oversight reforms we’ve seen passed over the past year on Beacon Hill and in City Hall. The recent reforms are some of the farthest reaching of any in the country, and now we need our City’s leaders to ensure those reforms work. That means getting the data and working with public safety agencies and residents. Arbitrary budget cuts threaten Boston’s progress, and distract from the hard work of improving our existing system.
Boston has a nationally recognized program that brings Boston Medical Center’s BEST mental health clinicians to 911 calls. BEST provides crisis evaluation and treatment services to diverse populations across the Greater Boston area. Increasing funding to this program to hire more mental health crisis response clinicians and increase the program’s capacity and reach can keep Boston on the cutting edge of mental health crisis response.
Growing up in Hyde Park, I took the 32 bus to the 39 bus to get to high school. It might have taken an hour and a half, but it was cheaper than owning a car. I still don’t own a car, and like every other commuter in Boston, I have missed appointments and run late for work because of overcrowded buses and late trains. To fix transit, we need to fix traffic, and that requires an advocate at City Hall.
Most of Massachusetts’ new jobs have been created within 2 1/2 miles of downtown Boston: the Seaport District, the Financial District, Back Bay, and across the Charles River in Kenmore Square. Those jobs drive our entire state’s economy. For our City’s residents to access those jobs, they need housing working families’ can afford within distances that they can reliably walk, bike, or take a train or bus to work. By building more housing and investing in transit here in Boston, we can lead the way to ensure that leaders in other communities and on Beacon Hill make the right choices.
We need to have the Red Line-Blue Line connection finally be built, and push for the Commuter Rail to be electrified and run more frequently. Our City sees millions of people commute in every day, and getting as many of those people out of their cars and onto trains, buses, and bikes can take that burden off our neighborhoods. Other communities in Massachusetts have pushed the MBTA and the state to live up to their commitments – we are seeing that right now with the Green Line Extension in Somerville and Cambridge. Boston residents can control our own destiny when it comes to transit, and I am going to be a part of that.