Candidates line up for the District 7 race
Weeks after Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced that she is running for a full term as city leader, at least six candidates appear to be vying for the seat of District 7 city council that she will step down in January .
Bowdoin-Geneva Mainstreets Director Tania Anderson, Public Health and Community Advocate Angelina Camacho, Head of Engagement and Collaborations on the North East University Campus Marisa Luse, the Lawyer Lorraine Payne Wheeler and community activist Santiago Rivera join veteran District 7 candidates Reverend Roy Owens and anti-violence activist Joao DePina in the race for the seat.
In alphabetical order, here are the candidates and some of their positions.
Anderson was born on the island of Santiago in Cape Verde and raised in the Academy Homes housing estate in Roxbury. She has spent much of her professional life in social services, including the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, and Project HOPE. She worked at the Boston Public Schools Family Resource Center and since 2018 has been the Executive Director of the nonprofit Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets.
She is also a fashion designer, and in 2019 she launched a Pan-African masquerade group in the Boston Caribbean Carnival, for which she designed costumes.
She said she was running because she wanted to help improve the neighborhood.
“I feel like I’m in a place where I can be of service to my community,” she said.
Anderson said she would work on recovery from COVID, housing issues and violence and trauma on the council.
She said she supported rent control.
“I think we absolutely have to support the stabilization of rents,” she said. “We can look at best practices, but our community is suffering. We need stabilization. “
She supports a fully elected Boston school committee and has said she will support the diversion of some funds from law enforcement to anti-violence and social services.
“I’m not going to say I have the answer, but I know we need to have this conversation,” she said.
Camacho was born in Boston. She grew up in Roxbury and spent part of her childhood in Mattapan. She has worked much of her adult life in public health, including a stint with the Multicultural Coalition Against AIDS. She said her experience in housing services and public health had prepared her to advocate for her community at city hall.
“We have a lot of critical issues that plague our community,” she said. “As someone with experience in different fields and passionate about local issues, I felt like I had to get up and run.”
While Camacho doesn’t think the city should revert to the form of rent control that existed before it was abolished in 1995, she said she was open to some form of stabilization.
“I would look at all the options,” she said.
She supports an elected / nominated hybrid school committee and notes that she sits on the citizen nominating committee for the currently appointed committee.
“The mayor doesn’t pick a committee member from the phone book,” she said. “There is a community process. I think the public needs to be better informed about the process. “
On the issue of police funding, she said she supported increased funding for anti-violence programs and social services, but said the funding embezzled from the $ 400 million police budget would not be not enough.
“We need to do a lot more than cut funding for the police to fund the fight against violence,” she said.
DePina was pressured to run for office due to what he said was a lack of leadership in the district, which has had three races for an open seat in the past 10 years.
“We need someone who is going to do the job and who is not afraid to speak their mind,” he said.
He said he would like to work on issues such as police, housing, the drug epidemic and illegal weapons.
DePina lives in an affordable apartment and has said he supports the return of rent control to Boston.
“We need some kind of rent control,” he said.
He supports a return to an elected school committee and said parents should have more say in decisions about schools.
DePina is not in favor of cutting the police budget as a whole, arguing that the department is understaffed, but said some areas such as the Internal Affairs Division should be cut.
“The ministry has good people,” he said. “I want to make sure there are more women and more men of color in power.”
Marisa Luse, originally from Roxbury, has been Special Assistant to the Director of Partnerships and Neighborhood Programs at Northeastern University since 2015. Previously, she worked with Discover Roxbury and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute.
She plans to work on the root causes of violence in the city, the opioid crisis and quality of life issues in District 7.
“We are a very diverse neighborhood economically, socially and racially,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone in the neighborhood has access to Town Hall.”
This diversity is threatened by real estate development, she said. She sits on the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee and has an overview of ongoing development projects in the Nubian Square area.
Real estate development in Roxbury has not benefited longtime residents, she said, due to rising housing costs.
“History has shown that when there is development, there isisplacement, ”she said. “We cannot repeat history.”
Luse said she would support the return of rent control to Boston.
“I think everyone should have affordable housing,” she said. “I don’t think people should leave town because they can’t afford to live here.”
She has no position on whether the police budget should be cut or whether the school committee should revert to an elected model.
“It’s always a problem that I’m looking for,” she says.
Rivera has lived in Roxbury her entire life. He said he became interested in politics when, at age 17, he contacted the late councilman Chuck Turner to have a stop sign put up on Magnolia Street where he lived. Several children had been struck by cars on the busy side street.
Turner brought in officials from the city’s transportation and public works departments, who consulted with him on where to put signs and traffic calming measures.
“At that point, a light bulb went off in my head,” Rivera said. “I knew you could really improve your community.”
He said he wanted to make the city’s budgeting process more transparent and inclusive.
He supports a return to rent control in Boston and a return to an elected school committee.
“Young people should have a vote in this committee,” he said.
It also supports the reduction of the police budget to finance violence prevention services.
“The police budget is increasing every year,” he said. “We can devote some of that funding to social services and our schools.”
Lorraine Payne Wheeler
Wheeler is a lawyer who helped found the Roxbury Path Forward Neighborhood Association, which operates in historic Moreland Street. She grew up in Roxbury and said she decided to run because too many of her neighbors were struggling.
“In our neighborhood, we have a lot of development,” she says. “The developers turn three-story apartments into condos, but then they’re too expensive for the people who live here.”
She said she would like local residents to have more of a say in what is happening in the community.
Wheeler would support some form of rent control.
“People definitely need help paying for housing,” she said.
She said she was in favor of an elected / appointed hybrid school committee and that she would support a cut in police funding.
“We have all seen that the police don’t have the tools to deal with incidents involving people with mental or emotional health issues,” she said.
Roy Owens could not be reached for comment on this article.