Janey outlines plans to ‘build a better Boston’
Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced her candidacy for mayor standing in front of the Faces of Dudley mural in Nubian Square, a mural depicting historical figures from Boston’s black community. The following is an excerpted version of her speech.
It’s great to be with you this morning in front of the beautiful faces of Dudley, of Roxbury. I am standing here today because of people like Melnea Cass, who is behind me — the mother of Roxbury. I also stand on the shoulders of so many others like the great Mel King whose mayoral campaign I volunteered on, and elected leaders like the late Doris Bunte, District Attorney Rachel Rollins and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Women shattered glass ceilings and helped make this moment possible.
When I was sworn in as the first Black and first woman mayor of Boston, I talked about how far our city has come, but also about how much work we still have to do. And I’ve got to work. As mayor, I am focused first and foremost on leading the city’s efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. I have visited and volunteered at a number of mobile vaccination clinics, meeting residents where they are. I launched the city hotline for vaccine appointments for populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. And I invested $1.5 million in a vaccine equity grant initiative to partner with community groups in an effort to reach vulnerable populations.
I am centering workers in our economic recovery to ensure that it is equitable. To this end, I started a pilot program to get 1,000 Boston workers prepaid CharlieCards and bike passes in five hard-hit Main Street business districts. Working with the business community, I am setting a goal of 5,000 summer jobs for Boston teens. Our young people are resilient, but they have missed out on so much over the last year. It is important that we provide opportunities for them to learn.
Like so many challenges facing our city, the housing crisis was long with us before COVID. The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. In my first week as mayor, I announced $50 million in desperately needed rental relief and to help families stay in their homes.
And now, I am here today to announce that I am running for a full term as mayor to ensure we continue to get that work, and so much more, done for the people of Boston. The work to address the challenges we face from COVID and racial inequalities that have been inherited from centuries of structural racism will take longer than a few months to change. It is going to take fearless leadership, bold action and a commitment to doing the hard work to make Boston the equitable city our residents want, need and deserve. And I am 100% committed to leading this change.
I bring to City Hall and to this race a life experience like none of my predecessors. As a daughter of Roxbury and the South End, I understand the challenges so many of our residents are facing from structural racism, food and housing insecurity, failing schools and faltering public transportation, hurdles to homeownership and the fear for our families’ and neighbors’ safety. I understand these challenges because I have lived them. Those experiences inform how I govern and how I will lead the city through a lens of equity, justice and love for every Bostonian. That means ensuring we continue the fight against COVID with equitable distribution of the vaccine and economic assistance for communities that were hardest hit.
This recovery is our chance to build a more equitable city for every resident. That means getting our students and teachers back in the classroom safely and tackling the opportunity and achievement gaps that the pandemic has only exacerbated. We need to focus on each child, their lives both in and outside the classroom, to ensure they have the support systems that they need to learn and succeed. That means implementing policing reforms that will bring safety healing and justice to all of our neighborhoods. We need to reimagine policing in our city. We also need a greater focus on the root causes of crime — the lack of economic opportunity, an education system that leaves too many kids behind, and the lingering and untreated trauma that infects too many of our neighborhoods.
That means fighting for public transportation that is affordable and reliable. Failing public transit can derail all of the progress we need to make relative to economic growth, racial equity and climate. Boston is a world-class city, and we need a world class transportation system. Part of that means demanding greater investment and accountability from our federal and state partners, but it also means finding solutions on the city level that can make a positive difference in our residents’ daily lives.
And it means a renewed emphasis on building housing that actually works for the residents of Boston. That means prioritizing mixed-income development, not just luxury and affordable. We need housing for working families that are being displaced, and we need to make homeownership and the generational wealth that it creates possible for those who have for far too long been denied the American dream.
It comes down to this: As we recover together as a city, we can’t simply go back to the way things were. Our only option is to go better: A better Boston, a stronger Boston, a more equitable Boston. Now, I need to get to work.