12th and 14th Suffolk candidates talk housing ahead of primary vote
Early voting for the Massachusetts Democratic primary is already underway, and candidates for the 12th and 14th Suffolk district seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives are ramping up their virtual campaigns. In a series of interviews on Aug. 18, the Ward 18 Democratic Committee questioned the six candidates vying for Rep. Dan Cullinane’s 12th Suffolk seat and Rep. Angelo Scaccia’s 14th Suffolk seat.
14th Suffolk District (Hyde Park, Roslindale, West Roxbury)
Rob Consalvo, Duckens Petit-Maitre and Gretchen Van Ness each spoke with Ward 18 member Tanisha Sullivan, and also answered questions about housing from Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants.
Consalvo, chief of staff for Boston Public Schools, said he has the most experience for the job after representing parts of Hyde Park, Mattapan, and Roslindale as Boston city councilor for District 5 and working for Senator Ted Kennedy.
He expressed plans to open a district office in Cleary Square and is looking to serve on the Committee on Housing to fight for more homeownership in communities of color and more affordable housing properties. He supports the right to counsel bill for tenants as well, which could give tenants more power in courts during cases of eviction and more. As a special advisor to Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, Consalvo recently pushed forward a plan to sell the McCormack School’s sports fields to the Boys & Girls Club, a sale that McCormack students and some Dorchester residents strongly oppose.
Petit-Maitre, as a Boston constable and a former MBTA worker, plans to focus on public transportation if he wins the 14th Suffolk seat. He also cited his personal experience as a former affordable housing resident.
“If you’ve never been in the place that I am, that a lot of people are going through, you can’t represent the community,” he said.
He believes that the current eviction moratorium should be extended to a year after the COVID crisis ends, and that tenants should have more rent-to-own options. As the only Black candidate in the race, he’s said before that he can deal with police reform better than the other two contenders.
Attorney Gretchen Van Ness believes her background as a civil rights attorney will help her address racial justice, economic justice and economic recovery from COVID-19. She also sees the need for reform in the House Judiciary Committee to address police reform. In her plans to support low-income essential workers, she said, “We need to raise taxes on corporations that are doing well, close tax loopholes and talk about a millionaire’s tax.”
Van Ness wants to extend the eviction moratorium and said she will support inclusionary zoning that ensures future developments will include enough affordable units.
12th Suffolk District (Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Milton)
Attorneys Stephanie Everett, Jovan Lacet, and Brandy Fluker Oakley spoke with Sullivan about the first bills they would file if elected and the House committees they want to work with.
Everett plans to use her previous experience in the State House on Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s staff to prioritize and move legislation through the proper committees and get community involvement. She also called out the lack of equity revealed by the COVID crisis, especially in Boston’s education system, and said she wants to make sure that every student has enough resources to succeed. She supports the current housing stability bill written by Rep. Kevin Honan, which extends the eviction moratorium to March 2021, and includes protections for elderly residents selling their homes.
Lacet said that advocating for the community is the most important quality for a state representative. As a representative, Lacet would focus on the Committee on Financial Services so that he could secure funding for schools and health centers to recover from COVID-19. He also said that he would start his term by filing a housing bill so that landlords and tenants are not affected by too many foreclosures and evictions.
“If the families don’t have somewhere to live, then education would be a second thought to them,” he said.
Lacet also mentioned that he was a police officer before he became an attorney.
Fluker Oakley said that she has the skill to be a budget advocate for the 12th Suffolk and that she has already built diverse relationships in the community. She brought up the high COVID death rates in the district and the importance of the census count. She wants to work with the Ways and Means Committee to direct funding to the district that it needs.
She also brought up displacement and said she wants to file legislation so that “families who have been owning their homes for decades … they get a special tax break,” she said, as a way to keep families in their homes.