NEW MAJORITY 2005 CITY OF BOSTON CANDIDATE SURVEY
1) AFFORDABLE HOUSING:
Affordable housing programs follow income guidelines which are skewed upward because they follow Area Median Income figures that include 127 surrounding cities and towns and exclude single-person households. Area Median Income for last year was $82,600 for a family of four, while Boston median household income was $42,600 for a family of four. This means that much of our new "affordable housing" is actually unaffordable to most Boston residents.
Will you support a redefinition of affordable housing income guidelines to be calculated based on the city's median household income, in order to better target housing resources toward keeping Boston residents in their homes?
What are your strategies for affordable housing to stabilize working class neighborhoods?
I have a complete housing stragegy outlined on my website, electkevin.us. I advocate for a city planning agency answerable to the people through the city council so that the citizens will have a say in how their neighborhoods develop. I have called for the elimination of the BRA which is non democratic institution that does not answer to the people. I have outlined a plan to get the city to sell or use its approximately 400 acres of excess property which is not being used or taxed so that we can create more housing for the working class and lower the tax burden on everyone.
2) CRIME PREVENTION AND PUBLIC SAFETY:
A series of neighborhood-based "street talks" organized by the New Majority last year revealed that public safety is a top priority for Boston residents of color. Furthermore, it is expected that in 2005 three thousand ex-offenders will be released from institutions and returning to Boston, without services, supervision or other support.
How would you address these issues and help to make these re-entering citizens' impact on the city positive rather than negative?
One of the most important issues for these ex-offenders is jobs. If people have jobs they are less likely to end up back in prison. That is why I advocate for the enforcement of the current Boston Jobs Policy. We can't be giving City of Boston jobs to contractors who come from the suburbs when we have workers who need jobs who live in this city. If the City makes an effort to get these people on a positive track it will benefit the whole community.
What are your strategies for improving public safety?
The answer in short is money. We need more money for more police officers, more programs for youths so they are not prone to violence, beds to help people get off drugs. What I will do as a city councilor is use my 17 years experience as a business owner to find the waste in the city budget, to stop the giveaways to connected developers, and to make sure we collect proper revenue. When we give away 23 million dollars at Heyward Place to a big developer, that is a lot of police officers who aren't on the streets because the politicians weren't watching the citizens' assets.
3) FAMILY INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
Educators believe that engaging parents and families is a crucial ingredient to improving the education of our children.
Will you support a plan to hire a Family/Community Coordinator in every Boston public school within the next three years?
How will you work with the School Committee and the Superintendent to facilitate parent and family involvement?
I have promised on my website, electkevin.us, to spend one day a week on nothing but education. I will visit all 139 schools in my two years as a councilor, meeting with the parents, students, and administration of each school to identify how those schools can improve. I will work to increase PILOT payments from local colleges and universities, increase their involvement in the Boston Public schools, provide more scholarships for our graduates, etc. In addition I have outlined a plan to provide housing loans for teachers, and to get BPS graduates to come back to teach in our schools after receiving their degrees. It is by spending time in the schools, just as it is important to spend time with your children, that we can make families more involved in the schools.
4) CLOSING THE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT GAP:
Available educational resources vary greatly from school to school.
How would you as a city councillor work for equity in the distribution of resources as one strategy to close the educational achievement gap?
As outlined above, I would visit each and every school and identify the inequities and then work to alleviate them. No other candidate has promised (to my knowledge) to visit the schools and report on them during their tenure.
What other strategies would you support to close the educational achievement gap?
First of all by listening to what parents, teachers and students say they need to excel, and then to try and provide it. I have called for the building of another exam school in an economically disadvantaged area of the city, perhaps in Mattapan as councilor Yancey has suggested. I believe that if we show the students of our school system that we believe in them, and we put our money where our mouths are, that the students will respond. If we provide the opportunity to excel, let them know that we believe in them, I believe that they will excel.
5) YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT:
Youth represent our future, yet our commitment to youth programs varies from year to year.
Would you support a permanent line item in the City budget to fund youth employment and leadership development programs?
How do you define "youth leadership" and how would you work as a city councillor to develop and support programs that foster youth leadership?
I believe that leadership comes from being given responsibility. If we establish programs where older or excelling students are given responsibility for a project, that we can build leadership. Not just give a job to some kids to clean a park with an adult overseeing it, but give a teen the opportunity to oversee some of their peers.
I have hired some BPS students this summer to work on my campaign. For example Amanda Barros of Roxbury and Kate Dormeus of Dorchester. They are being given the responsibility of setting up talks and meetings for me, and for doing investigative reporting of their own. They are doing GREAT!!! Here are two accomplised young women who couldn't get a job anywhere who are showing leadership because someone gave them a chance. The city needs to give its youth a chance as well, and not just the youth who are connected to an insider in city government.
6) MUNICIPAL VOTING RIGHTS FOR U.S. PERMANENT RESIDENTS:
U.S. Permanent Residents live permanently in our communities, work, pay taxes, and raise their children here, yet have no voting rights to give them a political voice.
Would you support a city law to provide U.S. Permanent Residents the right to vote in municipal elections? I am not familiar enough with this issue to comment at this time.
How would you as a city councillor work to develop the civic participation and voice of immigrant residents?
My three issues are education, housing and EQUAL ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT. I believe the government should be there to serve all the people not just the elite. All city residents will have access to my office at least once a week where I will have open office hours.
7) MULTILINGUAL VOTING RIGHTS:
More than one in four Bostonians is foreign-born, and one-third of Boston households speaks a language other than English. The Secretary of State's office already provides voter registration forms in six major languages.
Would you support a city policy to increase multilingual access to the polls through increased hiring of bilingual election workers, multilingual signage and information, and publication of bilingual municipal ballots in the six languages for which we already have voter registration forms?
Yes. My fiance is hispanic and we try to work on speaking spanish in the house once a week to try and improve my language skills. By being open to other cultures and languages we attract the best the world has to offer and show respect for those who choose to move here.
What other strategies do you have for improving voter access?
I am for same day registration and I have called for making voting day a city holiday. I believe that our right to vote should be celebrated and we should take a day to vote, reflect and enjoy the fact that we have this sacred freedom.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer, and for taking the time to be involved in the community.
Please return by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to (617) 357-9611, or by mail to:
New Majority, c/o Commonwealth Coalition, 37 Temple Place 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111