Downtown Schools for Boston†††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Return to the Voter Guide

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Boston City Council Candidates Ė District 2

The City Councilor for District 2 will represent Downtown North, Downtown Boston, Chinatown, Bay Village, the Seaport / Fort Point, South Boston and parts of Beacon Hill and the South End.† The District 2 Councilor could be an important partner in our efforts.† We asked several questions of the two candidates for the office, and have included their responses below.†

Be sure to vote on November 5th!



Suzanne Lee

Bill Linehan

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

1.       Quality education for all BPS students

2.       Smart development that creates jobs while preserving the affordability of our communities

3.       Accessible representation that engages residents in the decision-making process

1.       Public safety

2.       Education

3.       Economic Development

4.       City Services

Why should residents of Bostonís downtown neighborhoods vote for you?

I am running for City Council to work for stronger schools, good jobs, and affordable neighborhoods. Iíve worked as a teacher, principal, and community leader for more than 35 years.

I led a high-profile turnaround, as principal of the Baldwin School in Brighton. I later headed the Josiah Quincy elementary school in Chinatown, which was named one of the top schools in Massachusetts.

I also know that the best decisions are made when everyone has a seat at the table and a stake in the outcome. I have brought families, workers, community organizations and businesses leaders together to find solutions to the challenges we face.

I have a proven track record of working with residents to foster quality development for the downtown neighborhoods and business community, and in difficult economic times. As chair of the Councilís Economic Development Committee Iíve provided experienced leadership, maintaining fiscal responsibility, while growing the Cityís tax base to provide adequate services to our growing population.

I have over 25 years of experience working to improve Boston from the ground up. Iíve raised my children, and my children are raising my grandchildren, in Boston. My grandkids are attending Boston Public Schools and in order to ensure they, and all families, can continue to call Boston home we will need experienced leadership on the Council.

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


I will seek to expand city services that support whole-child and whole-family solutions. The City of Boston has a wealth of resources that it can utilize to expose students to new and diverse experiences and give members of the community a stake in seeing our education system succeed.

As a City Councillor, I will expand the strategies I used as a principal, engaging parents and developing community partnerships with our universities, cultural institutions, community organizations, and businesses. These partnerships provide students with more one-on-one attention and help give all members of the community a sense of connection to our schools.

I am currently working to mandate City Council approval for all school committee members. Because of diversity and numbers alone the City Council more accurately represents the sentiments of the greater people in Bostonís diverse neighborhoods. To provide more accountability to the parents and children of our Boston Public Schools, you need more than one individual to access for help. One billion dollars a year is being spent on 57,000 children, and we need greater accountability and results for that amount of money.


Suzanne Lee

Bill Linehan

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


1.       Hire a world-class superintendent.

2.       Ensure that every school has an effective leader and teachers with support from the central office

3.       Fill the empty seats in our classrooms and develop a plan.

4.       Work to develop new sources of revenue so that we continue to invest in our education system for years to come.

5.       Expand early childhood education.

6.       Build community partnerships to provide diverse experiences for our students and connect them to real job opportunities.

1.       Access to quality schools

2.       Infrastructure improvements

3.       Academic achievement

4.       School proximity to home

5.       After school programs and enrichment services for families.

What would you do with regards to charter schools?


Charter schools offer an appealing alternative to many parents and students. However, my top priority is to find sustainable, system-wide solutions to improving and advancing our public education system. Many charter schools rely on exhaustive teaching schedules that lead to high teacher turnover which creates an inconsistent learning environment for students and leads to diminished performance over time.

We must remain focused and committed to making sure that we have a great school system where every school can provide our children with a top-notch education that will enable them to succeed now and in the future. I know we can achieve quality public education in our current system, because I have done it twice before.

I support successful models of education regardless of whether they are public, private or charter. Every student is different and therefore we should expect successful school models to vary. We need to continue to look at what is working, and replicate the successful practices in schools that are struggling academically. We should build each school from the ground up, with neighborhood support that wants to see all of Bostonís children educated, not just their own.


Suzanne Lee

Bill Linehan

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?

Absolutely. I believe we make the best decisions when everyone is involved and engaged in the process. As an educator and a community organizer, Iíve seen how decisions made without our input can impact our ability to be effective. Bringing people together is the best way to achieve our common goals, not just by giving people a seat at the table, but by providing them with the information they need to participate constructively.

I was part of the community-based task force that created the 2010 Chinatown Masterplan, which addressed the short and long-term goals and priorities of local residents through active participation in the budget process

I presently have the Quincy School in my district and work with the community and staff to attract resources and build programs. Parental involvement is paramount to a successful school.

I believe we rebuild the system one school at a time. The Clap grammar school was schedule to be closed in 2011. I worked with parents, and supporters to stop closure and it became the first innovation school in the district. Having neighborhood-based supports such as area non-profits, businesses and residents involved is most important, and I will continue to work with those who want to make a school or the system better.

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

As a parent, I understand the difficulty of staying involved in our childrenís education when our schools are not in our neighborhoods. Community priorities, such as a new elementary school, are most achievable when the interests of all residents are heard and addressed in the planning process. We must come together as a community to develop a plan that would address a new schoolís impact on the neighborhood and the entire school system. To have the best chance of succeeding, a proposal should not only make the case for a neighborhood school, but also include a feasible, data-driven strategy for implementing and funding the project.

As a District Councilor, I am inclined to concentrate on those schools in or near my district boundaries and those schools that my constituents can send their children to. I would also support my fellow District Councilors who would be trying to build better schools for the parents and children of their prospective districts.


Suzanne Lee

Bill Linehan

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?

Education is the Cityís top budgetary priority and the key to strengthening our communities and Boston as a whole. We must ensure that our schools have the resources they need to provide a world-class education to each and every child. This requires consistent investment in our educational infrastructure and facilities.

Long-term infrastructural investments are capital expenditures, for which the City may be eligible to receive additional state and federal funding or borrow money to defer the costs of these investments overtime. Necessary renovations and planned updates to our schools go unaddressed when there is not a long-term plan in place to direct these necessary expenditures. We should create a city-wide task force to develop a transparent, long-term plan to specifically address how we will budget capital expenditures within our school system.

Prior to getting elected in 2007, I was the special assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of the City of Boston. I helped identify priorities for capital investment including school projects. I have firsthand experience in identifying new space for the growing Quincy Upper School (Downtown School) on Church St. in 2005. I believe the Boston City Council should be further involved in the prioritization of such projects. We approve the loan orders and appropriate the money to pay the bills, now we should invest more time on the prioritization of projects.

What else would you do to keep families living in Bostonís downtown neighborhoods


         Ensuring that all who wish to live in Boston can afford to do so and the availability of affordable housing is necessary to ensure that our city continues to thrive.

         Concentrate on achieving balanced development that addresses diverse needs, including retail and business spaces, and housing from high-≠end to low-income.

         I support the Boston Housing Trust Fund and a greater concentration on providing larger affordable units that can support growing families

As the chair of the Census and Redistricting Committee I have firsthand knowledge of our growth patterns. Most of Bostonís growth has been in the northern part of the city closest to the downtown core. I have represented much of that area for the past six years and the new district includes more of downtown than in the past.

         Safe and clean public spaces

         Schools and enrichments services close to home or the work place,

         Continuing to have quality growth that creates jobs and revenue to provide the services we as citizens most covet.



   Service Employees International Union Local 888

   UNITEHERE! Local 26

   UNITEHERE! New England Joint Board

   Massachusetts Womenís Political Caucus

   Sierra Club of Massachusetts

   Neighbor 2 Neighbor MA

   Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee

   Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee

   Boston Plasterersí & Cement Masonsí Local 534

   Massachusetts Voters For Animals

   Mass Alliance

   Greater Boston Young Democrats



††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Updated September 25, 2013