Times are tough. We have all been affected by the recession in ways unimaginable even a few years ago. Now, we must make critical decisions that will shape our community for many years to come. These challenges are all part of a single narrative. It’s a narrative that presents us with incredible opportunities to revitalize our communities, recharge our economy, and rebuild Massachusetts. If we invest wisely in ourselves, we can truly create a brighter future for all.
Jobs and Economic Security
After public safety, I believe that the most important responsibility of any government is to encourage job growth and economic security. It is not a question of statistics or figures, it’s about people. Our jobs are more than something we put on a tax form. They’re how we provide for our families. They’re how we define ourselves and how we contribute in meaningful ways to our communities, our nation, and the world. At their best, they are careers that we love and that give us purpose.I believe in a two-fold approach to secure meaningful jobs for the people of our community. First, we must create a physical, economic, and political climate necessary to make individuals and businesses want to invest in our community. That means fighting for new infrastructure and transportation projects in the State House as well as continuing to encourage participation in projects such as Main Streets. First located in Roslindale Square, Boston Main Streets was the first urban, multi-district Main Street plan in the United States. By its third year, the Roslindale program had 73 facade changes, 43 building renovations and 132 net new jobs. I strongly support the plan to bring a Main Streets to Mattapan Square, which will forge public-private partnerships in areas ranging from education to city parks to beautification programs. It should also include affordable housing to bring people closer to jobs.
Second, we must empower individuals and communities to secure jobs and economic wellbeing. I fully support Governor Patrick’s efforts to introduce Individual Development Accounts (IDA), which match the savings of low-income families to build transformational assets such as a down payment on a new home or the seed money for a new business. I strongly believe that we should expand the IDA program as well as expand financial literacy programs, which help individuals find their way through troubled economic times and plan for the future. We must make it possible for low-income families to take charge of their futures and improve their own economic situations.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will you help create jobs?
In addition to enacting policies friendly to small and new businesses–America’s primary job creators–new infrastructure is the best way to create jobs in our district and across Massachusetts. I will support as many new public works projects as possible as well as project labor agreements so that projects that take place in our district hire local workers.
Encouraging Community Involvement to Reduce Crime
No family in Roslindale, Forrest Hills, Woodbourne, or Dorchester should have to worry about crime. It’s bad for business, detrimental to communities, and a menace to our kids’ futures. But reducing crime isn’t just a matter of having more cops on the streets; it’s about building strong communities to create environments where crime can’t proliferate.
As your Representative, I’ll advocate for creative solutions like teen centers, which provide fun, protected places to get kids off the streets after school and out of trouble. I’ll stand for new, clean public spaces that give whole families and communities a place to interact peacefully, such as Mattapan’s new public library that serves as the community’s “living room”—an effort that I chaired. And I’ll look to replicate my own grassroots community-building successes, such as my neighborhood street cleaning efforts.
Furthermore, I’ll support measures that bring good jobs to our community. Economic growth and crime reduction go hand in hand. As Chairman of the Mattapan Economic Development Initiative, I understand what it takes to make communities commercially successful, economically strong, and ultimately safer places to live and work.
I continue to work on one of the primary recommendations from the MEDI, which was to advocate for a “Main Streets” designation in Mattapan Square. The team presented to the Main Streets committee on April 1st and we will have an answer in less than a month.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you support probation department reform?
Do you support reeducation and counseling programs for inmates?
Do you support Governor Patrick’s efforts to curb illegal guns, specifically the trafficking of illegal guns into the Commonwealth?
Transportation and Infrastructure
Rethinking our transportation and infrastructure is essential to strengthening our community. Better public transportation will attract new businesses, and it allows our citizens to commute to higher-paying jobs elsewhere. I’ll support efforts to direct both federal, state, and stimulus dollars toward smart investments in these areas.
Unfortunately, this district has had trouble bringing in new public transportation. The 28X bus line would have brought $147 million from the stimulus but was rejected by the community. I supported this effort because it would have been an opportunity to look at transportation concerns block-by-block throughout the district, remove the 28 buses from mixed traffic down Blue Hill Ave, and be a windfall for jobs in our community.
Currently, there is a proposal to add a commuter line station at Blue Hill Avenue and Cummings Highway. The fare would be $1.70 and would provide a one-seat ride from Mattapan Square directly to downtown Boston. We need more projects like this to provide more jobs in the community, provide better and faster transportation for our residents, and provide it at a reasonable price.
At the same time, we must make sure to include the residents of our neighborhoods when we are planning new infrastructure and transportation construction. As your Representative, I would take all viewpoints into consideration when advocating for new infrastructure and transportation—especially those of citizens living in areas affected by new construction. I will advocate for mediation and remedial measures to address community concerns such as noise, parking, and increased traffic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you support the proposed 28X bus line that would run down the middle of Blue Hill Avenue?
Yes. I support the $300,000 study that was agreed upon by the 28X project team and Mass DOT, which will determine the best transportation solution for our community. The consulting team has been hired and will have a focus area of 1/2 mile from any Red Line or Orange Line station.
Do you support the proposed T station at Woodhaven and Cummings Highway?
Do you support project labor agreements, which help hire local area residents for infrastructure projects?
How will you streamline infrastructure projects in our district?
I will support coordinated meetings to discuss multiple transportation projects at least twice a year–not just on a project-by-project basis. We need to start looking at our infrastructure from a big-picture perspective, not just on a per-project basis like we have done in the past.
Education: Investing in our Children
I view public education as investing in America’s capacity for the long haul. We must educate and develop our youth to equip them with the skills necessary to be successful in the global economy. Studies show that if we can get our kids learning at the proper level by the time they enter kindergarten and third grade, we dramatically increase their likelihood of future success. The long-term costs of education are far lower than for dealing with criminals and dropouts created by a dysfunctional school system. And tackling this challenge from a community perspective is a powerful way to do so.
We can transform parks and public swimming pools into educational opportunities for parents and children as a way to further integrate families into their communities. We can emulate programs like Miami’s Parent Academy, which seeks to empower parents as citizens or residents from a workforce perspective by providing job training. Additionally, parent academies can address the personal and civic needs of parents by helping them understand their rights in the community and putting immigrants on the path to citizenship.
I believe that there ought to be greater active citizen participation in schools. Most school systems underutilize the power of their graduates. We should bring back successful alumni to inspire current students and build organizations to attract public-private partnerships for scholarships and new facilities and opportunities.
I also believe that public schools ought to accelerate their partnerships with organizations like CityYear and Teach for America. Organizations like TFA use this combination to produce some of the highest performing teachers after a five-week boot camp. They become the shock troops who have the passion to transform the world one kid at a time.
One of the most important reforms we can make is to divide large, monolithic schools into smaller ones that specialized in various vocational fields. It eliminates the process of simply sending students through a one-size-fits-all educational pipeline.
But improving academic education is not enough. Children need personal and civic education. The vitality of a community rests with its educational system. How do we expect kids of a certain age to act? Can they say please and thank you, shake hands, or fill out a résumé? Focusing on details like these conditions our children for success.
I strongly believe that school districts should never have to choose which subjects to keep and which to forgo because of funding shortfalls, or whether they have to shorten the school year to make ends meet. I promise to be a strong advocate in the Massachusetts House of Representative for education funding and for increased teacher pay.
Frequently Asked Questions
Would you have voted for the education reform bill, recently passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Patrick?
Do you support charter schools?
Yes. I support expanding charter schools into struggling communities, so long as their progress is carefully measured.
What is your position on the recent library closures?
I oppose the closures. While the City of Boston closed the libraries (and not the legislature), as your State Representative I will strive to find ways to fund the libraries.