Bostonians are a diverse, talented, and resourceful people and we deserve the best! We’ve spent plenty of time talking about and studying the issues, now it’s time to act. We need practical, creative solutions that are tailored to the strengths we have and the challenges we face. It is the people who are already here that will help define who we become as a city.
As Chair of the Committee on Education, I have seen first hand how capable our Boston Public Schools students truly are. We are a city of educational excellence, both through our teachers and our scholars. Our colleges and universities are some of the finest in the world. We have what it takes to provide world-class public school education for everyone. Every young Bostonian deserves a top education. But now more than ever they deserve our full support so they can reach their inherent potential. We must restore the cuts made to autism and trauma students, accreditation-required librarians, surround-care for early education, and we must provide a school nurse in every school.
Education doesn’t stop with college acceptance and matriculation; we should also teach trade skills that will lead to profitable careers and pay living wages. A leader in building trades and technology, Boston already has the necessary talent to train our residents in the careers of today and tomorrow. We will create partnerships between trades and schools to build pathways for anyone seeking training.
Three days before Christmas, a mother of four called my office because she was being evicted. Her landlord had given her five hours notice to vacate. In collaboration with housing advocates, city services, and my staff, I was able to help delay her displacement. These kinds of calls have become increasingly prevalent over the last few years.
We should all have a place to live at a rent we can afford in the neighborhood of our choice. Each of our 23 distinct neighborhoods has been created by close-knit communities and family legacies. Offering housing opportunities for people of all economic levels is imperative to promoting strong, healthy and resilient neighborhoods.
According to the City, “affordable” housing eligibility means tenants can make up to $61,850 for a family of three. Half of our population makes less than $35,000. The City’s current 13% affordable housing requirement of new construction does not come close to addressing the current housing crisis. It actively displaces our people. We will push to increase this requirement to 20%.
The most heartbreaking part of my job as Councilor is to look a mother who has just lost her child in the eye and try to apologize. We have all failed her. There is no excuse great enough to make up for the death of a child. There was a 30% increase in homicides between 2015 and 2016. 10 families needlessly lost their loved ones.
Every person in Boston should be able to walk anywhere in the city without fear. No neighborhood should be considered “bad” or “too dangerous.” No parent should be afraid to let their child play outside. We must work with both the police and the community to foster safer neighborhoods. We will create spaces and increase communication between police and residents. We will bolster support for families that have been traumatized by violence.
Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, should not fear participating in public life. Boston will protect those who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Those who have committed crimes will be held to the same justice and law as everyone else. We will not assist or cooperate with mass deportation.
There is a 33 year difference in life expectancy from the north end of my district to the south. In Back Bay, it’s 91 years old. Near Franklin Park, it’s 58. Zip codes should not determine longevity.
We must address healthcare disparities head-on. Asthma rates continue to rise. Access to fresh produce should not be considered a luxury. Family leave and mental health services should not depend on what neighborhood you live in. Boston has the most elite hospitals in the world. We will partner with them to address these health issues at a local level.
Boston is facing an opioid crisis which has not been addressed. The Long Island Bridge which connected 1,500 people to detox and shelter beds was destroyed by the City in 2014 without a plan to rehouse them. We must fix this injustice through a thoughtful, multi-partner strategy.
This includes providing people with the proper detox and counseling services, and training people to safely keep the city clean from used needles.
The people of Boston’s labor force should be able to afford to live here. Providing for ourselves and our families has become one of our biggest challenges. The cost of living has skyrocketed and wages are not increasing at the same rate. Boston must provide access to jobs for younger residents, seniors, the disabled and everyone in-between. We will push for summer and winter youth jobs, increased access to job training, and transparent hiring processes. We will hold developers to the Boston Residency Jobs Policy requirements. We will negotiate for living wages in new commercial spaces.
In the 1980s, my father, Herb, founded one of the first recycling companies in Massachusetts. He recognized the importance of recycling in lieu of landfills and helped make Boston a cleaner place for me to grow up.
It’s our duty to our future generations to take care of Boston’s environment. As both a port city and an incubator of cutting-edge science, Boston should be leading the way in fighting the impact of climate change. Boston has an average of one gas leak every mile. We should cap all of the city’s gas leaks leeching into our soil and promote environmentally conscious development projects.
Enjoying people and having fun is one of the best parts of my job. It’s what makes communities. Right now, the City requires restaurants not only to pay for a live music permit, but also pay for a separate permit for dancing. Let’s help people have some fun!
We must do a better job of promoting the many diverse and exciting entertainment. This means supporting the incredible artists, musicians and creative people we have right here. Boston’s lively restaurant, bar, and music scene – as well as our champion sports teams – must be more accessible. We should reinstate the T’s late night service, which helps the late-night scene and working families alike. We should help businesses stay open later. We should let people dance.
Our innovation and start-up community has helped tremendously to make Boston more connected. Whether it’s creating new ride-sharing apps or helping women be safer at night, start-ups are the forerunners to helping Boston be less boring. We should find opportunities for start-ups to plug in with existing economies. We should foster creativity and innovation. We can all help to make it more fun.
Small businesses are the lifeline to any successful city. We know that 65% of new jobs are created by small businesses. We won’t achieve our employment goals without supporting local business owners. The City of Boston should be proactive to ensure small businesses thrive and are an integral part of our community.
We need to provide small businesses access and a clear process in obtaining business permits. We need to cut the bureaucratic tape that slows down permit access and their permit renewal process. We need to leverage the Boston’s community relationship to provide a safe haven for small businesses to feel supported, welcomed, and appreciated. We must provide Boston’s Small Business Development agency the tools to better serve small business owners.
Boston has developed an extensive but underutilized list of small businesses that are qualified for city procurement. We need to instill a culture of using local small businesses owners on local jobs. It not enough to want to do it or talk about doing it, we must invest in the communities that make up Boston. We will encourage affordable commercial spaces. We will help connect business owners across the city to each other.
Getting around Boston isn’t always an easy task. Driving, taking public transit, biking, and walking should be accessible and safe for everyone. New development has brought new cars, but infrastructure for alternate means of transportation has not been developed enough tangentially. Parking is becoming increasingly difficult. The public transportation system is not always reliable or, in some areas like the Seaport, accessible. Our city has suffered too many cyclist and pedestrian deaths because of poor or nonexistent infrastructure. Boston is considered a “walking city” but it must be accessible to every type of mobility.
Boston has active and engaged communities in all transit areas with whom we are excited to partner. We will actively work with the MBTA to assess routes and station safety. We will encourage bike safety, including protected bike lanes to keep both drivers and bicycle riders safe. We will push parking enforcement to quickly move double-parked cars out of bike lanes. We will reassess proposed parking requirements for zoning. We will work with accessibility groups to identify neighborhoods that need improvement.