Contenders for District 7’s council seat outline stances
Candidates vying to be the next City Councilor for District 7 filled and nearly overflowed the stage at Hibernian Hall last week. Eleven of 13 candidates turned out for the debate forum on Wednesday Sept. 13 where due to the size of the field, candidates’ answers were restricted to one minute each. City councilors are not party affiliated and the Sept. 26 primary will whittle the field down to two candidates.
The Bay State Banner’s senior editor, Yawu Miller, and The Boston Globe’s longtime reporter, Meghan Irons, moderated the discussion and questioned candidates on topics such as priorities for the Boston Public Schools, methods for improving access to better jobs and homeownership, plans to reduce violence and their ability to work with the mayor and other city councilors.
Many candidates said they were running to ensure the district gets a share of the economic boom and that preventing gentrification is a top concern.
The candidates described below are listed alphabetically. Not all candidates responded by Banner deadlines with information on what endorsements their campaigns had received.
Angelina Camacho, program manager at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and former co-chair of the Citywide Parents Council, raised about $3,410 during 2017 as of the Aug. 31 filing deadlines. Of this, she personally contributed about $668, and nearly $1,330 remains in her campaign account.
Camacho’s top concerns regarding BPS include tackling food and housing insecurity among students. In regards to residents’ housing and economic situations, Camacho said increasing housing stock will help stabilize rents. She also spoke to the importance of financial literacy education, adding that she is involved with providing such workshops at ABCD, and she voiced support for vocational training. As for violence, Camacho said lack of opportunity and equity and the resultant lack of hope are primary drivers.
Camacho has been endorsed by the Carpenters’ Union.
Charles Clemons Muhammad, who runs a low-power radio station, raised about $1,100 according to his Aug. 31 filing, of which he donated about $300, with $40 now remaining.
Muhammad promotes installing religion in public schools and joined others in calling for more BPS funding. He also said tackling violence and increasing support for homeless children would improve education outcomes.
His housing proposals centered on boosting rent-to-own opportunities. He also said more living wage jobs are needed. If elected, he promised a District 7 office that would be open seven days a week.
João DePina, owner of At Your Time of Needs Floral Design, and Ward 12 Democratic Committee treasurer, raised $17,080, of which he contributed $250, and has $8,950 remaining.
DePina said BPS should offer financial literacy and home economics and also called for more school funding.
He believes there has been too much focus on creating rental units, especially market rate ones, and said developers should not have the option to fulfill their affordable unit construction requirements off-site.
Resolving violence, he said, means getting youth engaged in it it off the street and meeting their mental health needs.
He said he would use strategies such as knocking on doors to connect with residents, including in non-election years.
Rufus Faulk, director of the Gang Mediation Initiative at Boston Ten Point Coalition, raised nearly $11,960, of which he donated about $100. Nearly $5,290 remains.
Faulk called for increasing students’ access to advanced work and rigorous programming and establishing more school-to-trade career pipelines. To boost homeownership rates, he proposed examing the potential of co-ops and rent-to-own.
Systemic forces, such as lack of resources and devaluation of black and brown boys, as well as growing up around violence, are factors driving violence, he said.
Faulk said he’d bring detailed knowledge of both policy and policy’s potential to generate unintended consequences to office. Faulk has been endorsed by Rep. Chynah Tyler and community members who include Manny Canuto, BPD officer and Cave Verdean Police Association vice president; Shabazz Napier of the Portland Trailblazers; Said Ahmend, founder and executive director of United Somali Youth, Inc; Rev. Jeffrey Brown; Liz Miranda, executive director of Hawthorne Youth and Community Center; and Alfreda Harris, who retired from the Boston School Committee as its longest-serving member and founded the Shelburne Recreation Center.
Carlos Henriquez, a former state representative, raised about $4,320 of which $200 is his own money. He has nearly $2,870 remaining.
Henriquez said BPS needs to enhance family engagement and suggested ensuring each school has an official with the necessary language skills. He also advocated for more school inspections and holding administrators responsible for failing schools.
Community development corporations need to be pushed beyond rental housing creation in order to facilitate homeownership, he said. Henriquez also recommended land trusts and co-op housing. With respect to the economy, Henriquez said that residents spend heavily on black churches, which ought to then invest their money in the same local bank to allow the dollars to be re-used locally. He proposed workshops on the importance of wealth building.
Poverty, peer pressure and family issues contribute to violence, he said, and more focused policing and preventative strategies are part of the solution.
If elected, he said he’d bring policy know-how from previous experience and would improve communication with residents about issues affecting them. He has been endorsed by Rep. Russell Holmes, Blackstonian.com publisher Jamarhl Crawford and the Local 4 Elevators union.
Kim Janey is the senior project director of Massachusetts Advocates for Children and is a founding board member of MassVOTE. In 2017 her campaign raised nearly $54,300, with $30,000 remaining as of Aug. 31. She contributed $1,000 of her own money.
With respect to education, Janey called for increasing support to close the achievement gaps for immigrant and English Language Learner students . She also was among those who called for a teaching force reflective of the diversities of the student enrollment and more school funding.
She proposed workshops and other supports to help people purchase homes and launch their own businesses, and said tackling violence means addressing diminished opportunities for youth opportunities as well as responding to violence-produced trauma and mental health issues.
If elected, Janey promised high responsiveness to residents and said her position at Mass. Advocates for Children gives her experience working with City Hall and effectively organizing to acomplish projects.
She has been endorsed by District 7 City Councilor Chuck Turner, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins. Other endorsements include the Mass Women’s Political Caucus, SEIU Local 888, IBEW Local 222 The Sierra Club, Mass Alliance, Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee, the Greater Boston Labor Council, and community figures Glynn Lloyd, Thelma Burns, Marilyn Anderson Chase and Rev. Miniard Culpepper.
Deeqo Jibril, who was a Somali refugee as a child and later founded African Mall and the Somali Community Cultural Association, raised $42,690 by Aug. 31, of which she donated $1,000 personally. The campaign still has $22,820.
Jibril also called for a more diverse teaching staff and more school funding, and was among those proposing homebuyer classes. Combating violence means providing youth with resources and teaching children that they can succeed, she said. Jibril cited her experience initiating dialogues between Boston police and Somali youth.
She has been endorsed by Unite Here Local 256 hotel and restaurant employees union.
Brian Keith, an executive with an airline startup, raised about $10,220, of which he contributed about $340. He has $3,130 remaining.
Keith proposed establishing pipeline programs to train students for positions in emergency medical response, police and fire. (He did not say what this would mean for the police and fire departments’ veteran preference hiring policies.) He, too, called for a more diverse teaching staff and school-to-trade career pipelines.
Pathways to better economic prospects, engagement with perpetrators of violence and stricter police action will curb violence, he said.
He also cited experience negotiating with developers for greater inclusion of homeownership units in their projects via his role as president of his neighborhood association. He said he would use this approach to increase ownership opportunities locally, and that in office he would draw on the collaboration skills he honed as neighborhood association president. Keith has been endorsed by Boston Fire Local 718 and Massachusetts Voters for Animals.
José López Jr., an attorney and former BPS teacher, raised $14,930, to which he contributed $1,000, and still has about $3,420.
He said the BPS’s higher education partners should be pushed to provide more support for improvements at their partner schools.
As for strengthening residents’ control of their neighborhood, López advocated for homeowners to sell their house only to people they know within the district, and for residents to seek mutual wealth-building opportunities. To better address violence issues, he said adults need to show children they have potential for success, not just criminality.
If elected, López hopes to open city council committee membership to any residents, not just councilors. He has been endorsed by the Boston Teachers Union and the Transit Workers Union ALF-CIO local 2054
Roy Owens did not attend the debate and has raised $0.
Domonique Williams, a legal assistant, raised about $12,620, contributing $200 herself, and has $24 remaining.
She said improving the BPS means increasing trauma support and housing resources to students who face housing insecurity, along with providing schools with more resources.
Speaking on housing and wages, she said she would draw on her experience as a former aide to Boston’s Office of Fair Housing and she, too, proposed homebuyer classes. Williams also said more access to technology industry jobs is needed.
Peer mediation, starting as early as elementary school, can help children express issues and find healthier — non-violent — coping methods, she said. More also needs to be done to help people deal with violence-related trauma.
Williams said her knowledge of law and negotiation skills would be useful in office. She reported endorsements from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (ASCFME) Council 93 and Ward 9.
Hassan Williams, attorney and former BPS teacher, raised $18,640, of which he personally contributed $12,000 in 2017. As of Aug. 31 he had $13,310 in his campaign coffers.
Williams was among those who called for more school funding and proposed raising these monies by taxing larger nonprofits and universities.
To improve the housing situation, he suggested implementing rent control, capping property taxes, revising the Area Median Income calculations (thus revising how much housing can cost and still be deemed “affordable”) and converting more public land into co-op housing.
He said violence is strongly driven by drugs, and can be abated if key players are made to meet and discuss issues.