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                                                               Boston City Council – At-Large Candidates

Four Boston City Council at-large members represent the entire city.  The support and focus of the entire City Council will be needed to move our schools and our neighborhoods forward, so the candidates’ positions on these issues are important.  We asked a number of questions of the nineteen candidates for the office, and have included the responses below for the eight candidates who responded to our questionnaire. 
To navigate through the answers, click on the table and then use your right/left and up/down arrow keys, or the scroll bars on the window, or your mouse scroll wheel.  Please scroll to the right in the table below to see all of the candidates’ responses.

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

If elected City Councilor, what would be your top three priorities?

1. Improving our public education system

2. Combating the epidemic of substance abuse that plagues too many neighborhoods and drives most violent crime

3. Ensuring Boston’s fiscal and economic well being.

1. Education - Make sure that high school students receive the education and resources they need to be successful upon graduation.

2. Public Safety – Keep the people informed about critical safety issues; and keep all parts of the City safe for our children, schools, and businesses. More focus on community policing. Particular attention to quality of life issues like theft and nonviolent crime. Need to focus on gun crimes and getting illegal guns off the streets.

3. Economic Development - Quality of life, job opportunity, and local economic development increase when small and large companies are strengthened and supported, and when employees earn a living wage. I will be a champion of small business creation, particularly in neighborhoods with too many empty storefronts. Increase focus on areas that have not received Main Streets designation.

My mission is to strengthen all neighborhoods:

1. Work toward quality schools in all neighborhoods

2. Connect Boston residents to quality jobs

3. Advocate for stronger services for individuals and communities suffering from substance abuse.

1. Excellent schools in EVERY neighborhood

2. Safer neighborhoods

3. Affordable housing and home ownership opportunities

1. Encouraging long-term investment in Boston neighborhoods

2. Increasing early education opportunities for Boston children

3. Ensuring a fully funded budget that will address public safety and education needs in the City of Boston.

My mission as a City Councilor has been breaking cycles of poverty and violence and fighting for girls and women…. My current priorities are

1. fighting for full implementation of the BPS Wellness Policy, which includes comprehensive sexual health education and condom availability,

2. pushing for schools in every neighborhood to be of great quality, increasing access to early education and care programs for low-income families, expanding access to adult education and ESOL programs,

3. advocating for a centralized city trauma response and support system, and continuing to protect and expand domestic violence and sexual assault prevent and support services.

4. Finally, my primary economic development priority is to pass a home rule petition that will give the City full control over alcohol licenses for restaurants so that small, local entrepreneurs have greater access to opening restaurants; to ensure that all neighborhoods have access and control over the economic revitalization. Some neighborhoods (like many downtown) are saturated, while others have very few licenses.

1. Developing stronger, more inclusive public schools that engage students, parents, and teachers alike to ensure an accessible pathway to higher education and future employment.

2. Working to bring different constituency groups, community organizations, and cultural communities together to unite our neighborhoods behind common goals like safe and vibrant neighborhoods, locally driven economic development and livable communities.

3. Working to create in-Boston jobs that pay a living wage, health care and provide stability for Boston families

1. Education

2. Jobs & Small Business, and

3. Innovation

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

Why should residents of Boston’s downtown neighborhoods vote for you?

An experienced leader with 10 years on the Boston City Council. As a lifelong city resident, husband and father of four, I know that Boston is a great place to live and raise a family.

But we can do better.

As an at large city councilor, I:

• Advocated shift to a school-based management system

• Called for better compliance rates under the Boston Residents Job Policy, and tougher monitoring

• Pushed for tougher gun laws and to expand crime watch programs and shot-spotter technology.

• Filed a petition to establish a special drug detoxification trust fund to help defray costs of treatment to addicts

• Helped to pass a local option to lower the interest rates accrued on property taxes deferred by seniors who meet certain income criteria.

Mayor and city council must address root causes of city’s challenges, such as the epidemic of substance abuse, and lack of economic opportunities for our young people. We need more and better substance abuse treatment, more living-wage jobs.  In our relatively safe city, we have too many pockets of intolerable inner-city crime. Law enforcement alone is not enough to cure what ails us.

I’d bring my experience as a small-business owner and the only mom and BPS teacher in the race. I know the experience of hard work, efficiency and dealing with crisis. I understand the issues faced by downtown residents and the tough choices when it comes to applying, ranking and assignment to BPS. I’ll be an advocate for having a quality (and making sure this term quality is defined clearly) school in every neighborhood so that we keep families living within Boston.

Downtown Boston residents will be voting for one of their own. I have been a Charlestown resident 32 years, and I understand the advantages and challenges of living in and raising children in a downtown neighborhood. As Mayor Menino’s Charlestown Neighborhood Coordinator I had a strong track record of working with parent groups such as the Charlestown Mothers Association. I witnessed the impact that strong neighborhood involvement and a strong parent site council can have on school turnaround at the Warren Prescott School and the Harvard Kent School. I plan to be a councilor who helps leverage the energy and enthusiasm of downtown residents committed to the schools in their community because having more downtown families in BPS benefits children throughout the school district.

I am the only candidate who talked about building neighborhood schools, even before I decided to run for office. I am a lifelong Boston kid who went to BPS. Many parents that have left the city, have left because their child cannot attend a neighborhood school. I will work with, or demand that, our mayor build schools in every neighborhood as soon as possible, provide funding for kindergarten, books, sports, arts, music, special ed and trade schools within all schools, and create a balanced curriculum that reduces the dropout rate and ensures that our kids go on to college, or get a job when they graduate.

I am also the only candidate talking about hiring more police, and more funding for advanced technology and surveillance cameras, especially Downtown, Chinatown, North End and Back Bay. I’ve owned property on Beacon Hill for over 10 years and I care about the crime rate and how it affects residents and property values. I am a staunch supporter of our teachers, police and firefighters because ... safe neighborhoods and neighborhood schools are the most important factors considered when moving to a city. Ironically, if we don't fix our schools and neighborhoods, these are the same factors that are driving people away.

I have long supported downtown neighborhoods through my work on the City Council at the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Licensing Board. When development stalled on the Filene's Basement building, I urged the City to find a new developer or pressure the current one to renew construction. In City Council, I voted to approve the construction of the new school at 585 Commercial Street. I have a long-standing record of support on issues of public safety and education.

There is more work to do to make Boston a safe, vibrant and inclusive city for all residents. Households and communities are destabilized by violence, and children and adults alike lack access to high quality educational and employment opportunities. When I was running for office in 2009, I was told by many that these issues are not germane to the City Council. I think I have affirmed that these issues do matter to residents in every neighborhood, including those downtown. I am proud of my record of accomplishments, only possible with the input and activism of residents and community organizations around this city.

I know firsthand how one’s family can be devastated and destabilized by poverty, substance abuse, incarceration and violence. This is why I’ve devoted my life and career to breaking the cycles of poverty and violence that trap so many of our city’s families. I know that government doesn’t have all the answers, but I do believe when government works in close partnership with the community, solutions are more creative, fully informed, and better outcomes are achieved.

Highlights of accomplishments:

(See full answer on detail page.)

My commitment to this work and my passion for Boston has been demonstrated from long before I was a candidate. As a bilingual immigration attorney and human rights advocate in Boston for the last 20 years, I have worked on behalf of vulnerable and at-risk communities in order to connect vulnerable populations with critical resources.  It is only when we nurture all of our communities that we can begin to comprehensively address the problem facing our city as a whole.

As a former resident of the North End, now living in the South End, I appreciate the joys and challenges of urban life and would be an accessible advocate for other downtown residents. The downtown area will be a hotspot for Boston's growth in residents, new industries, and institutions, but we need to make sure that quality of life and neighborhood identity are preserved and celebrated.

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

With regards to public education - what specifically would you try to get accomplished in your 2014-2015 term and how would you do it?

 

Advocate for funding for more year-round student employment, and support programs like School to Career, which gives students an opportunity to use classroom knowledge in a work environment.

Must put programs in place at both elementary school and high school level – programs that provide kids the tools and confidence they need to compete.

Advocate putting street workers into troubled schools to ensure we are providing and preserving a safe learning environment.

I will work for year-round student employment, and programs like School to Career, which connects activities as a way to give students an opportunity to use their classroom knowledge in a work environment. We must put programs in place at not only the elementary school, but at the high school level, as well – programs that will provide kids the tools and the confidence they need to be able to compete. And we need to take other smart steps, like improving communications between our schools. I also advocate putting street workers into troubled schools to ensure we are providing and preserving a safe learning environment.

Foster real and meaningful partnerships in each of our 25 high schools with a local Union, a local big business and a local four-year university or college. Move to have raised crosswalks at all Boston Public Schools and work with the Transportation Department to get that done.

Look for ways to provide additional public health funding for under-resourced BPS. Public health has an important impact on public education, especially in struggling communities. The schools are an important venue for addressing kids’ health issues whether they be mental health, asthma, dental, sex education which all have an impact on kids’ educational outcomes, especially at the secondary school level.

 

I would immediately call for hearings to identify where we will build schools; I would look at the budget for BPS and determine where we can save (reduce busing and duplicative administrative positions) and direct funding to where we need them (build schools, buy books and fund programs). I would also work to reduce the dropout rate and create programs to assure students go to college, or into the workforce, upon graduating.

I have placed a high priority on early education in Boston Public Schools. I would like to increase the amount of early education programs available to families by creating partnerships with colleges to staff some of these programs. These partnerships would bring education majors in their last semesters into the programs as teachers or assistant teachers.

Parents all tell me they want a quality school close to home. Unfortunately, we have neighborhoods like those in downtown that do not have schools, and we have other neighborhoods with underperforming schools. My primary priority for 2014-2015 is to push BPS to address their facilities plan and quality improvement plan. But we also have to get serious about the challenges that many families face, particularly our low-income families of color, and the impact of those challenges on academic success. We can keep developing fancy algorithms that bus kids around the City but until we address poverty and violence in our communities, we will continue to have failing schools, achievement gaps and gross disparities. We cannot improve our schools without simultaneously pushing for reforms that stabilize our families and strengthen communities. We must pair this work with ensuring that the right investments are made to ensure every school, in every neighborhood is of high quality.

 

It is imperative to the success of our children's education that we provide the early education services that they need. My priorities include working to ensure that all of Boston's children have access to wrap around services and are being comprehensively evaluated by licensed professionals for early intervention services that will improve the quality of education for every student.  As a public school student who was bullied as a youth, I am interested in making sure our school climates are safe and constantly improving so that students have the opportunity and the safe climates they need in order to thrive.

BPS students should have the opportunity to benefit from mentorship programs, visits to cultural institutions, and exposure to local colleges and companies. Most schools already benefit from partnerships with community institutions and businesses, but principals must spend time courting and coordinating programs. A Partnership Coordinator at the District level would give every school a starting point.

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

What do you believe are the key issues the BPS has to address?

 

We can turn around failing schools through bold reforms such as shifting to a school-based management system –principals given greater authority to make decisions that best meet needs of students. Teachers and parents would also be more empowered and involved in discussions about budgeting and programming.

– Greater standards for accountability, making all schools responsible for providing a quality education and graduating all students.

– Achievement gaps – ELL and special education programs are in dire need of reform; these students are at greatest risk of dropping out.

– An $88 million transportation budget is wrong. There is a better way to provide quality education and provide more choices for parents.

Room for more improvement: Raise graduation rates, and reverse the fact that we have more under-performing than performing schools. Schools become stronger when an integral part of the neighborhood. I advocate for equal educational opportunities – right now, a return to a purely neighborhood system would run risk of failing to achieve such equality. Need to work towards a school system where the neighborhood school is the first choice. Will require bold leadership, collaboration, and incorporation of best practices in other urban school districts.

Clarify and define “quality” when we discuss having a quality school in each neighborhood.

Focus on strengthening the high schools.

Close the Achievement Gap, increase MCAS scores, lower the drop-out rate and support our students with additional services so that they are best supported to learn.

There are four major issues:

1. Make sure that all BPS students are in a spot to be able to learn physically, emotionally and intellectually, even if this means that the City has to provide wrap-around services for students who need them most.

2. More attention to teacher development and support. Teachers have the greatest bearing on student outcomes, and we must support their development in a respectful way, rewarding the best teachers.

3. BPS facilities need to be updated, and more capacity needs to be created to accommodate the growth of pre-kindergarten and first grade demand. Lastly, more attention needs to be given to improving the middle school and high school experience to retain enrollment in the face of charter school expansion.

We need to get parents and kids more involved with their schools. We can do this by building more schools in our neighborhoods, kindergarten 1 and 2 in every school, and more funding for books, sports and arts. If we can get more parents involved, we will reduce the dropout rate, more kids will go onto college or work, and more people will choose to live and stay in our city.

BPS must increase their access to early education since studies show that early education reflects positively on a child's entire educational experience. BPS must also take a hard look at the achievement gap. I would not presume to put forth a plan on how to do that. I am not an educator, so I would not presume to tell teachers, principals, or administrators how to do their job. I believe most educators give above and beyond their maximum efforts and it shows in our success stories. BPS will be facing a challenging year with a new superintendent, a new school assignment process, and continuing the progress they have made in the past 5 years in regard to increased test scores and higher graduation rates. I have full faith that the BPS will rise to the challenges in front of them.

Facilities: We have closed and moved a number of schools, but now, the student population is growing as families choose to remain in the city. Yet  there are communities with too few seats and our high schools are under capacity. BPS needs to do a better job understanding what the student population will look like over the next several years. BPS has produced a 5-years facility plan but I do not believe it goes far enough and there should be greater feedback from parents.

Quality: We have both high achieving and underperforming schools. I am monitoring the BPS Quality working group that was formed after the school-assignment process ended.

 

1.  Truly working to understand and close the achievement gap that disproportionately impacts black and Latino residents.

2. Investing in the whole child as a means to prevent school dropouts and create students who will go on to be contributing members of the Boston community.

3. Creating early childhood evaluation and responsive education services that will equip our children with the tools they need to succeed in higher education and for workforce jobs that are available to them upon graduation.

4. Providing safe environments and quality education to all Bostonians, not just the highest achieving.

5. Finding innovative and creative ways to improve the quality of education by examining successful programs and pilot initiatives in schools where improvement is critical.

1. Work to lift up underperforming schools in the district immediately and move toward a system that allows local communities to participate and invest in neighborhood schools with quality options.

2. BPS needs to implement better use of data and technology to make information and processes accessible to parents, whether around school choices, grades and syllabi, or buses.

3. Partnerships need to be supported at the district level so that the burden of setting up meaningful enrichment with community partners (for funding, mentorship programs, trips, internships) doesn't fall entirely to individual school principals. I'd like to see a School Expo to connect schools with interested community partners.

4. The district should support constituent services that many schools are taking on individually, such as around age-out issues and connecting students who need to be matched with an outside organization to complete their GED after aging out of BPS at 22 years old.

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

What would you do with regards to charter schools?

 

In their best incarnations (Neighborhood House Charter School comes to mind), Boston's charter schools have proved to be innovators, able to provide critical learning opportunities. I have been a supporter of charters and I do not withdraw or temper that support.

Our goal is not two separate tracks to quality public education. Nobody should want to privatize public education. Our goal is equity in opportunity and equity in results. Smaller class sizes, an appropriate ratio of support services for students, the availability of staff psychologists, and even, where needed (such as in ELL and Special Ed classrooms), more than one teacher per classroom, are hallmarks of successful charters that we should seek to replicate.

 

I am not in favor of lifting the cap. The verdict is still out on whether charter schools actually are a better option as so many of them are still new. It is important that we keep money within the city and use it for city run services. When a new charter school opens or a new seat is created, there is less money available for our libraries, our main streets, our police and fire departments and our schools. A quality public school in every neighborhood is what I will fight for.

I support offering more charter seats than are currently available to Boston residents, but I do not necessarily support removing all constraints from opening more charter schools in Boston. The charter model is highly successful, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, resources are taken away from BPS. BPS is in a difficult position to adjust capacity in a timely manner, leading to closings of schools which can be traumatic for neighborhoods and school communities. I’d support and encourage BPS and the DOE to think of innovative ways to adjust district capacity in a timely manner, and in near term I support gradually lifting the charter cap for Boston.

I do think that the Charter Schools we have are fine, but I am not in favor of creating any more because they divert funding, dollars and students away from the Boston Public Schools, which badly need it. I am 100% in favor of building more public schools, especially in areas where we need them. We can make BPS stronger by giving schools the tools they need to succeed, not by giving up on them and creating a separate school system.

I believe charter schools fill a gap in our school system, but I also believe we should be investing in the public schools we currently have in our system.

I appreciate and support parents choosing charters. But charter schools need to be held to the same standards as public schools; for recruiting and teaching a diverse student population and following fair enrollment guidelines, not cherry-picking the strongest students. I support standardized reporting of waitlists for Charter schools so that we can determine the actual demand.

We have a few in-district charter schools that have shown success in turning around some of our underperforming schools and closing the achievement gap. I am in favor of extending in-district charter abilities to more BPS schools to give them the flexibility to implement best practices.

As someone who graduated from public schools, I strongly believe that we need to not drain the resources from public schools in order to fund charter schools. It is unfair to the public school system that we include the cost of special education needs into the per-pupil funding formula, because that unfairly and inequitably places a larger financial burden on public schools that does not impact charter schools in the same way as it does the BPS.

I strongly oppose any inequitable enrollment selection process that results in charter schools that do not reflect the communities in which they are or the BPS student population. I am not satisfied that charter schools are making sure that diversity is prioritized in their populations and amongst their student bodies. I would not support further charter school expansion until the issues around diversity, funding, and equity are addressed.

Charter schools offer unique learning options and are a part of the equation for a successful district. However, we need to have a collaborative approach that acknowledges the importance of tying funding and best practices to provide quality education for all. We shouldn’t raise the cap, but focus on improving the schools we already have, both public and charter, by sharing best practices and giving our teachers and students the tools necessary to succeed.

 

Would you support forming community-based task forces to work with BPS on (a) the future of schools in the downtown neighborhoods and (b) the future of the new 585 Commercial Street school?

Yes. I strongly support increasing the amount of local control in our city's public school system, and decentralizing decision-making

Yes and Yes. Community-based task forces would help to keep the process moving and ensure that a suitable location will be found and that the new Commercial Street School is a success. Community-based planning creates an environment of more investment by those that are invited to participate.

The key variable to success in Boston Public Schools is the strength of the parent community and the cooperation of the surrounding neighborhood. I would wholeheartedly support community-based task forces.

 

Yes. I will listen to each community, and I am open to building more schools Downtown and throughout Boston. I want every parent to have the option to attend the school of their choice, particularly a school in their neighborhood. I am in favor of an elected school committee, which I believe will give parents an even stronger voice in how the Boston Public Schools function.

I would encourage all affected residents to be informed on issues in their neighborhood, and recommend certain community leaders to task forces if given the opportunity.

Yes, I think any decisions involving the downtown communities (or any other neighborhoods) should include participation and feedback from the residents and parents of the impacted area.

(a) Yes, (b) Yes

Yes, neighborhood groups, whether it be a civic association or a crime watch group, serve as powerful voices for the community. I would welcome efforts to increase community participation in education and the downtown neighborhoods.

 

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

What would you do to support placing a new elementary school in Fenway / Back Bay area, a large section of the city with no public elementary schools, to serve families living in those neighborhoods & in other neighborhoods?

I acknowledge the need for a new elementary school in n Back Bay/Fenway area. The challenge would be to identify a funding mechanism. Boston should have the flexibility of approving local option revenue enhancement measures. But we need to make a top-to-bottom audit of how the City of Boston spends money, track where the money goes, and eliminate duplicative, wasteful and/or ineffective services and outlays of taxpayer monies.

Work with residents and groups such as the Downtown Schools along with the mayor to find a location closer to the Fenway. The new school on Commercial Street was a big victory for downtown families but it fails to help every family, particularly those in the Back Bay and Fenway. I am encouraged by many of the mayoral candidates’ calls for a new school in the downtown; I will hold them accountable and work to make sure a suitable location is found for a quality school.

First I would work with the BPS and the downtown community to identify possible sites for a Fenway/Back Bay school. I would also work with the BPS to identify sources of funding for a new school whether it be an additional appropriation from the City or shifting resources from a school that has had to close to this new school.

I will make this proposal a top priority. I will immediately call for a public hearing to identify and begin the process of building this school. I will rally with parents to let the mayor know that this school is a priority and necessity.

 

As the need grows for a new elementary school in the Fenway/Back Bay area, I believe that need should be addressed. It warrants serious consideration and BPS should launch a full study into the feasibility of placing a new school in the area.

I support having quality schools in every neighborhood, which is one of the reasons I supported the purchase of 585 Commercial Street. I will continue to push for us to revamp the 5-year facilities plan so that we are most thoughtfully and effectively addressing population and student/family needs across the city.

 

The BPS has an obligation to provide a high quality elementary school to all Bostonians. As City Councilor, I will advocate for a new elementary school to be located in the Fenway/Back Bay area so that there is access to education in some of these growing neighborhoods. I will always be accessible to residents who are advocating for these changes and will advocate for equity and fairness when it comes to educational options.

Help to identify potential locations and engage in conversations about funding and programming to help build a viable proposal.

The list of facility needs in Boston Public Schools is long and expensive. Some schools have been waiting for renovations for close to 10 years. How do you propose addressing those needs, and where would you get the money to pay for them?

Instead of attempting to apply rigid funding formulas that fail to address schools’ unique needs, BPS should be overseeing an annual review process to ensure that each school is meeting its performance requirements. Other aspects of BPS management should be reviewed for possible relocation to the city’s finance department.

Changing the way we allocate our school funding and providing greater autonomy to our schools should be steps we take now on the road to excellence in Boston's public schools.

There are many areas of the budget that could be targeted for elimination or otherwise made more efficient.

Work with residents and groups such as the Downtown Schools along with the mayor to find a location closer to the Fenway. The new school on Commercial Street was a big victory for downtown families but it fails to help every family, particularly those in the Back Bay and Fenway. I am encouraged by many of the mayoral candidates’ calls for a new school in the downtown; I will hold them accountable and work to make sure a suitable location is found for a quality school.

We must bring our facilities up to 21st century educational standards and we must be able to flexibly accommodate the changing needs of school-aged children. A smart facilities plan for Boston schools would look first at what is the best and most creative use for existing space. After that exercise, I would not be opposed to issuing bonds for capital purposes. Our children’s educational infrastructure is a worthwhile investment, and the City of Boston has some debt capacity that may be able to support these needs.

Over a 10 year period, funding would come from several sources: Re-evaluating and increasing the amount of money our non-profits and colleges pay into the PILOT program; lobbying for increased state and federal funding; attracting financial support from several private sources/foundations such as John W. Carson, Gates and Buffett foundations; creating and floating municipal bonds; and by growing our tax and revenue base thru economic development and building more housing and attracting major corporations to locate here.

In just the past year, one school in desperate need of repairs, the Boston Arts Academy, received funds to begin those repairs. It is a monumental task, but one that can be addressed in increments. I have researched alternative ways to fund city pensions and other items in the general fund. This could possibly free up more resources for school maintenance and improvement costs.

For the first time in many years, BPS has finally produced a 5 year master plan which I asked for during the last round of school closings. I think this is a good start, but I would like to see a comprehensive plan that will address the growing number of students in kindergarten as well as the glut of seats in the high schools.

To fund the improvements of our facilities I will work at the city level with the city budget, but also work as an elected official to generate support for state-revenue measures that would have a meaningful impact on Bostonians. For example, I will support (and propose local tax initiatives that are modeled after) H.2687, An Act to Invest in Our Communities. This initiative shifts the tax burden away from the most vulnerable among us and away from overreliance on one type of revenue stream in favor of an equitable and comprehensive revenue generation approach

We need a comprehensive capital improvement plan that also addresses the growing demand for elementary and early education seats, as well as the excess capacity in many high schools. I have proposed an Adopt-a-School program to support funding. I would also advocate for increased use of data and technology to streamline certain processes and make funding available.

 

Question

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

What else would you do to keep families living in Boston’s downtown neighborhoods?

 

We must re-examine our city's zoning code and development priorities, which currently seem to disfavor the creation of family-suitable housing in downtown neighborhoods.

Public safety is a top issue. If a family doesn’t feel safe in their neighborhood, schools and their businesses, they are less likely to stay. Community policing needs to be part of the solution as well as more police walking the beat. I would call for an increase the number of BPD Safe Street teams, including in the downtown neighborhoods to help deter crime but also to speed up response times. As a small business owner, I know the positive impact a locally owned small business can have on our communities. Encouraging locally owned small business in the downtown neighborhoods would help increase the sense of community.

Housing affordability is another big problem in Downtown neighborhoods. I’ll fight for more affordable housing downtown, whether it is low or moderate income. Finally, I would call for increasing funding that is available to our neighborhoods for programming. Although a lot of events happen in our downtown neighborhoods, much of it does not originate from its residents. Whether it is arts and crafts times in the park, movie nights or a block party, this type of programming create a sense of community and invite neighbors and their children to engage with one another.

The three keys to keeping families are maintaining a housing stock that is affordable, quality public school options, and a safe environment. I would advocate for the production of more housing citywide, and in particular I would encourage developers to create more affordable housing for middle income residents, particularly downtown. I would advocate for stronger school options by working on capacity issues throughout the district, supporting teacher development and encouraging strong school site councils and parent communities. I would also take a public health approach to public safety, advocating for stronger substance abuse prevention and recovery programs throughout the city.

More police and fire, more schools, more housing, longer MBTA service hours, more parks for families and pets, more parking spaces, and offer tax rebates for property owners who keep rents affordable.

Boston's downtown neighborhoods are becoming more vibrant and more livable as improvements are made to transportation, access to education is increased, and a concerted effort is made to find creative ways to incorporate parks and green space into this rapidly growing city. I plan to make our city, especially the downtown areas, cleaner by expanding the recycling program. This year I sponsored legislation that would encourage long-term home ownership by providing tax relief for homeowners who have owned for more than 10 years. I hope to have that legislation passed at the state level in the next year. This legislation would help homeowners stay in the City when rising property taxes threaten to force them out. Some of the stories that encouraged me to sponsor this legislation came from families in the Back Bay neighborhood.

When I visited neighborhood libraries this past spring, the West End had the highest participation and the most families. I was really struck by what a powerful community West End residents have built. We should do all we can to support the work of these families and ensure residents in every neighborhood have the same opportunity to build safe, vibrant communities. Residents in downtown want the same for their families as those in other neighborhoods – safe streets, quality schools, access to healthy food, housing that is safe and affordable, a reliable transportation system, good jobs, and a voice in the vision and future of their neighborhood. I do want to add that downtown residents are uniquely impacted by large scale developments. I will continue to push for improvements to the BRA, particularly when it comes to ensuring greater voice for residents. I am pushing specifically for the city to adopt a baseline community benefits agreement package, informed by neighborhood residents. I think diverse and affordable housing stock, cycling infrastructure and protecting/expanding access to parks and green space are just a few things that a baseline community benefits agreement should include.

1. Improve the infrastructure of our public transportation

2. Work with the city to make the development of many different housing options available to families who want to live downtown. I would encourage innovative strategies that would promote accessible and affordable housing options downtown.

3. Promote urban agricultural initiatives and expansion of open space across the city to improve quality of life

4. Champion small business and innovation in the city to encourage investment and a safer community

Across the city, there is a shortage of housing. Market prices drive young families out. We need to think creatively about supplying housing that falls between subsidized, affordable housing, and market value housing that is out of many families’ price range. We also need quality education options, vibrant business districts, and opportunities for innovation. From encouraging public art, music, and festivals, to maintaining parks and open space, to fighting for education funding, I want to make Boston more livable for everyone.

Website

michaelflaherty.com

annissaforboston.com

jackkellyforboston.com

martinjkeogh.com

stephenjmurphy.com

ayannapressley.com

jeffrossboston.com

michelleforboston.com

Endorsements

·   Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee

·   International Longshoremen's Association Locals 799, 800, and 805.

·   Pipefitters' Association, Local Union 537.

·   Unite Here!, Local 26.

·   International Alliance Of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 11.

·   Construction & General Laborers, Local 22.

·   Boston Firefighters, Local 718

·   Teamsters, Local 122

·   Teamsters, Local 25

·   International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2222

·   Iron Workers, Local 7

·   Boston Carmen's Union, Local 589

 

·  Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women

·  Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus

·  Boston Teachers Union

·  Boston Firefighters Local 718

·   International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2222

·  Boston Ward 15 Democratic Committee

·  Boston Ward 16 Democratic Committee

·  Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee

·  Caribbean Political Action Committee

·   Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund

·      Teamsters Local 25.

·      Teamsters 122.

·      Laborers 223.

·      IBEW Local 103.

·      IBEW Local 104.

·      Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 6.

·      Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12.

·      Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 534. 

·      Custodians Local 1952. Pipefitters Local 537.

·      Sprinkler Fitters Local 550.

·      Sheet Metal Workers Local 17.

·      Boston Firefighters Local 718.

·      International Longshoremen’s Association Local 799.

·      International Longshoremen’s Association Local 800. 

·      International Longshoremen’s

·      Association Local 805.

·      International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 577. 

·      Ironworkers Local 7.

·  Boston Firefighters, Local 718

·  Utility Workers Union of America, Local 369

·  Iron Workers, Local 7

·   International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2222

·  Sheet Metal Workers Local 17

·   Boston Ward 3 Democratic Committee

 

·   Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund

·   The Boston Herald

·   Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 12 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 16 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee

 

·   Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 12 Democratic Committee

 

·   Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus

·   The Boston Herald

·   Massachusetts National Organization for Women

·   Mass Voters for Animals

·   International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 6

·   Laborers Local 22

·   Laborers Local 223

·   Teamsters Local 25

·   United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445

·   New England Regional Council of Carpenters

·   UNITE HERE Boston Local 26

·   IBEW Local 103

·   International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 35

·   International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 11

·   Pipefitters Local 537

·   SEIU 888

·   Boston Ward 3 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 12 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 15 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 17 Democratic Committee

·   Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee

Link to full response to questionnaire

Michael Flaherty

Annissa Essaibi George

Jack F. Kelly III

Martin J. Keogh

Stephen Murphy

Ayanna Pressley

Jeff Ross

Michelle Wu

Due to space considerations, the candidates’ responses are summarized; however, the complete responses from each candidate can be found by following a link in the bottom row of each candidate’s summarized responses.
Be sure to vote on November 5th!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Updated October 24, 2013