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Below are the responses to the candidate’s policies and thoughts on current issues that affect the city of Boston.
As a candidate for City Council in 2017, I proposed a detailed plan for the reopening of the Long Island Recovery Campus with a ferry service through dedicated PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) payments of $2-3 million annually from our city’s large, nonprofit institutions. As a former Massachusetts probation officer who focused on re-entry service programs, I know that the recovery service facilities at Long Island are an invaluable tool for addressing substance use disorders. With the current protracted legal battles related to the rebuilding of the Long Island Bridge, we should not only look at using dedicated PILOT payments, but we have an opportunity to tap public health funding from the American Rescue Plan to fund ferry services to transport those in need to programs on Long Island. I also would call for a cabinet level chief that reports directly to the Mayor who would specifically work on the issues around Mass and Cass. There also needs to be more mental health services and housing resources for those experiencing homelessness and addiction. It is also critical that these services be decentralized across the Commonwealth, as this is a statewide issue that warrants both a city and state response.
We need to expand the number of affordable and income-restricted housing units in Boston. I support expanding and strengthening the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) and requiring that a larger percentage of units be designated affordable units beyond the current 13%. I previously called for and held a hearing regarding this issue and enforcement of IDP with Councilors Flaherty and Edwards, so that we can also ensure that developers actually do build and sell the required number of affordable units they are obligated to under IDP.
I also support increasing the funding for affordable housing through increasing linkage fees and fees on property transfers. We need to build more affordable, workforce, and income-restricted family housing units that are two to three bedrooms, so that our working families, communities of color, and immigrant neighbors can afford to stay in Boston with their families. Public housing is also a critical part of our city’s affordable housing stock, and I will continue to support residents living in our public housing developments, and work with the city to preserve and improve these units.
While I believe that we need to work with the police department to make necessary reforms on accountability for issues of confirmed misconduct, I do not believe that the police budget should be cut. My constituents across District 2 consistently ask for more police presence. I believe that Boston Police play a critical role in providing public safety for the residents of Boston and I have repeatedly advocated for hiring hundreds of additional officers to address looming issues of retirements, overstretched resources, and forced overtime. Residents in my district, like those lacrosse parents and children in South Boston who fled gunshots at Moakley Park last summer, have asked the elected officials in our city to provide increased police presence. I will continue to advocate for resources to address our urgent public safety concerns.
We need to ensure that all of our BPS students, no matter which school they are enrolled in, have the resources needed to succeed. I believe that one of the biggest challenges facing the BPS is the inequality that exists between high performing schools and schools that serve high needs students and students with disabilities. We need to commit to investing in our lower performing schools, and during my time on the Council, I have actively supported and advocated for the students of the schools in my district, such as the Blackstone School in the South End, and stood with them and advocated with the Mayor’s Office to stop budget cuts that year. I also actively promoted the Student Opportunity Act to change our school funding formula, to allow our school system to get the funding that they need to better serve our low income students, and to give them the quality education they deserve no matter where they live. We need to advocate for and craft policies that would expand funding and services for schools serving high needs students, and narrow the achievement gap.
Equity and access to city services have been one of my top priorities. I represent a large population of immigrant residents, so language access is critical for me, and I want to make sure that there are translation and interpretation services for residents who don’t speak English when they attend city meetings, or when they need city services. My social media posts are translated into Spanish and Chinese, and I have four women of color on my staff who are bilingual. Aside from language access, I have also worked on digital equity and make sure that residents have equitable access to affordable internet services and digital resources. I will be having a hearing on this issue with Councilors Mejia and Bok later this year.
Pedestrian and traffic safety is also another top priority. I have been actively advocating at City Hall for years on traffic calming infrastructure for our high traffic roads and corridors such as speed humps or speed bumps, raised crosswalks, and rapid flash beacons with pedestrian islands. I have also recommended a 12 Point Plan to the Boston Transportation Department with these infrastructure improvements, as well as held a number of hearings on pedestrian and traffic safety.
Responses may have been edited for length and clarity.
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