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David Halbert, 40, was most recently the outreach manager for The Educational Justice Institute at MIT. He lives in Dorchester with his wife Lauren and two daughters.
Halbert graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for his bachelor’s degree and graduated from Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs with a Master of Public Administration.
Why are you running for at-large city councilor?
I am running because Boston is an incredible city full of opportunities that are not shared equally by all. As a Black man in Boston, I know what it’s like to be in spaces and not feel seen or heard. I know how critical it is for our leaders to value voices that are often looked past, looked through, or looked at with suspicion. Because our best government is one that not only brings those voices to the table, but gives them agency in their communities. As a career public servant & former City Council staff member, a civic activist, and, most importantly, as the proud father of a Black girl in BPS, I have both the perspective and experience to help bring progressive change to Boston from day one. Boston’s future demands leaders who will boldly address the critical issues facing this city – from the climate crisis to the lack of affordable housing – while also tackling everyday, quality of life issues – like fixing potholes and making sure trash gets picked up. I’m ready to get to work for Bostonians, and I know that together, we won’t just build the Boston we want, but the Boston we deserve.
There are 17 candidates for at-large city councilor. What accomplishments and proposals do you think make you stand out from the others? Please be specific.
Housing: Working to establish a comprehensive equity-centered process to address the housing crisis that provides wealth building opportunities for marginalized communities from the beginning, creates jobs with living wages & fair working conditions through full enforcement of the Boston Resident Jobs Policy during construction, and provides increased access to affordable housing that balances single occupancy units with those for growing families. PILOT: Changing PILOT agreements to incentivize major non-profits to buy goods & services from local small businesses, particularly those led by women and entrepreneurs of color. This would bring business to neighborhoods – with greater impact on underserved populations; generate job opportunities – vital for those returning from incarceration; provide additional resources for communities; and make institutions better partners in improving quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods. Education: Reforming Madison Park Technical Vocational High School to make it the nation’s leading green urban vocational school. This would involve creating collaborative partnerships with area colleges & universities to develop an environmentally based curriculum; strengthening the connection between Madison Park and local skilled labor organizations; and providing opportunity for students to practice the latest climate resilient building skills by working to retrofit affordable housing and locally owned small businesses.
What would be your top three objectives during your term as city councilor?
Housing Justice: Creating a robust pipeline of affordable and accessible housing options, for both owners and renters, is critical to building vibrant, thriving communities and must be a priority for Boston. Home ownership is how many families build wealth that can be passed through generations. Housing access and stability are often the keys to effective delivery of social services to those in need. Housing equity is at the heart of a healthy Boston. Education Equity: All 50,000+ students in Boston Public Schools – my daughter among them – deserve quality school choices at all levels and in all neighborhoods. This means moving to a foundation budget model, ensuring all schools have adequate HVAC & supplies, and that faculty reflect the diversity of our students. When we fail to support our schools, we fail to build our future. Economic Opportunity: We must provide businesses with access to the support they need, in ways that are fair, equitable, and culturally competent, particularly for businesses owned and operated by women & people of color. Small businesses are critical to the health, well-being, and character of neighborhoods. They create wealth, grow jobs, & invest in our communities, in ways that are sustainable & local.
What is one thing you want the City of Boston to know about you?
I believe city government is the most critical level of government because it touches people’s lives most directly. That provides a tremendous opportunity to help, but also demands the most attention to detail. When people feel they are not getting the innovative policies to solve our major issues or the basic city services that are critical to quality of life, that is where skepticism and cynicism about government take root. As a lifelong public servant I know that it is the responsibility of everyone in city government, whether elected, appointed, or hired, to do their best work and give people a reason to believe that government can help, can make life better, and can be visionary in its approach to the most pressing challenges facing us all. The lesson I took to heart from my parents, government workers themselves, was that the most important question anyone who truly seeks to be a public servant can be guided by is “how can I use this position to make someone else’s life and our community better?” That is what guides me and that is the ethic I want to bring to the City Council to serve Boston every day.
What is your typical Dunkin’ order?
Sausage, egg, & cheese on an English muffin with a large vanilla chai (frozen in the summer).
Previous candidate: Kelly Bates
Next candidate: Julia Mejia
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