Upham's Corner Online

District 7 Elections - Candidate Ideas

Posted: March 23, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Congrautulations to Tito Jackson on his excellent victory on voting day, March 15, 2011.  On swearing in day, March 26, 2011, the full load of District 7 work will fall on Tito's shoulders - if that's the way he chooses to play the game. 

Another approach is teamwork.  In fact one of Tito's campaign themes was "Team Tito."  We encourage him to continue the team approach as he carries out his day-to-day activities. 

We encourage him to look to the most recent set of District 7 ideas that came from the finalists prior to primary day.  Let's make sure their ideas do not get lost in the winds of change.

On February 13, 2011 MassVote sponsored a forum just prior to primary elections for district 7 councilor.  Each candidate answered questions and contributed ideas on how to engage voters, improve our school system, make progress on economic development and more.
  1. Involvement in local government
  2. Economic development
  3. Senior citizens
  4. Education and our youth
  5. Revenue generation
Candidate contributions came from Tito Jackson, Natalie Carithers, Cornell Mills, Roy Owens and Danielle Renee Williams.  The depth and breadth of their suggestions highlights the quality of the candidates.  We encourage Tito Jackson to call upon these people and to add them, if possible, to his team.

Natalie carithers
Natalie Carithers
Roy Owens
Roy Owens
Tito JacksonTito Jackson
Cornell MillsCornell Mills
Danielle Renee WilliamsDanielle Renee Williams

Really!  Who cares about elections?  Apparently, almost nobody.  Both in the primary and in the final election, the turnout was low - 8.4% of the registered voters on March 15, 2011. 

Perhaps if the issues were taking from our wallets or limiting our freedoms or dramatically reducing our city services, maybe that's when we would wake up.  But by then, it's already too late.  The set of options has been cast. 

We need to convince our electorate that voting is but the last step in a vibrant exchange of ideas that moves through the political process and that leads to an understanding of who the candidates are, what they stand for and who to vote for. 

The District 7 candidates addressed increasing voter involvement in several ways:

Philosophy - Engage in a campaign of promoting citizen involvement around building community and participating in community service with a clear attitude of giving back - helping those that are less fortunate.Cornell Mills
Organization - Form a District Council to bring together the disparate neighborhoods and constituencies that make up District 7.  Cornell Mills, Natalie Carithers
Attitude - Protect the rights of everyone in the district without disrespecting the rights of anyone. Cornell Mills
Facilitation - Open schools for use by community organizationsNatalie Carithers
What voters care about is jobs, so what steps can a city councilor take to promote "more jobs"? 

Begin by promoting entrepreneurship.  Look at the business districts in District 7.  Can the local business districts support new businesses?  Does the City of Boston facilitate the process of starting a new business? 

Promote local shopping.  Are Boston residents supporting their local business districts?  Not always.  Some residents still choose to drive miles away instead of shopping "locally."  That leaves D7 businesses with a diminished customer base.  It also affects the business's ability to offer jobs to the community.  The economic health of the business district itself is diminished.  Promoting the idea of shopping locally is good for everyone's health.  

Does our city have the types of training and educational facilities that match up with the needs of our businesses?  Businesses need access to trained and capable employees.

So what does this have to do with the district 7 Councilor?  The answer lies in our concept of community.  How do we want our community to look and act and portray itself to the world?  Are we a city that promotes entrepreneurship?  Are there decisions made at the city level that ultimately affect the ability for businesses to thrive in an attractive format? 

Candidates spoke to the need for a visible, attractive and economically viable District 7 face to the world and for they also raised the idea of high school training programs so that our young people would be ready for employment immediately out of high school.

Make Dudley Square into a model for a world-class community. Tito Jackson
End the disparity in the appearances of businesses across District 7, for example, the South Bend versus Upham's CornerDanielle Renee Williams
Create HS technical training programs to improve ability to get jobs at graduationCornell Mills
Create high school healthcare training programs to create immediate employability at hospitals at the time of graduationDanielle Renee Williams
Promote entrepreneurshipCornell Mills
Make sure labs like the BU lab are not allowed in District 7Cornell Mills & Natalie Carithers
District 7 has many parks and green spaces dearly beloved by its residents.  Cutting budgets could result in lowered maintenance and a decrease in the beauty of our parks.  Perhaps volunteers could take on some of this work. 

Franklin Park in particular is more than just a large open green space.  It is historically significant in the overall layout of Boston.  It needs to be maintained and improved.

Advocate for Park and recreational services, especially Franklin Park as it is used by many people outside of Roxbury Tito Jackson
Increase the usage of parks as this helps reduce crime Tito Jackson
Reintroduce "Playhouse in the Park" in Franklin Park Natalie Carithers
Hold a kite Festival at Franklin Park
Cornell Mills
As our society matures and ages, the number of people in the senior citizens category will increase.  Our local government must make sure this constituency group is not forgotten.  More than that, we know this group has much to contribute.  Let's find a way to get them involved. 

Make sure our elders have a voice in City Hall Cornell Mills
Create a senior center for one-stop senior shopping
Danielle Renee William
Create a senior services coordinator for district 7 Cornell Mills
Involve seniors in youth mentoring and youth tutoring Roy Owens

At the national level the focus of education is necessarily strategic.  What educational programs will maintain our premier position in the world or prepare us for an economy less dependent on fossil fuels?  How will we provide students with the flexibility they need to adapt to skill set changes required over a lifetime?

As important as these strategic questions are, they do not necessarily address the needs of a small community.  Boston is a big city made up of small communities and small businesses.  What skills do they need?  In an improved economy, what types of jobs do they foresee offering to the local community?  Will our residents be prepared when the jobs are available?

Because of the flow of federal dollars to our local communities, the focus of our school system reflects national standards and national priorities.  Yet we have to deal with the youth who are moving through, and who will soon graduate from our school system.  It is not clear that a college prep path is the right one for everybody.

Addressing budgeting issues is important but difficult.  Imagining that our school system, in isolation from all other forms of community support, will have to take on the full role of preparing our youth for their adult working years equates to ever higher tax dollars funneled into the school system. 
  • What essential services must a school system provide? 
  • What else is needed to round out the education of the young people? 
  • How can we use volunteer services to supplement the education of our youth? 
Support, do not abandon, the Boston public schools through active involvement and spot checking Natalie Carithers
Create a district 7 Read program and encourage all residents to get involved Tito Jackson
Allow faith-based organizations to participate in tutoring programs Roy Owens
Effect greater transparency with the school board, including more open meetings, elected members, a long-term plan and require school board members to have children in the public schools
Cornell Mills & Tito Jackson
Create HS technical training programs to improve ability to get jobs at graduation Cornell Mills
Create high school healthcare training program to create immediate employability at hospitals at the time of graduation Danielle Renee Williams
Improve the Cory bill to protect our youth Cornell Mills
Promote our local businesses to hire local youth so that Cory is not an issue Natalie Carithers

Committing to fund our future requires money that may not be accessible today.   Revenues are falling, federal dollars are decreasing and this affects our state's funding of local aid. 

The most popular response to a decrease in tax dollars is the logical one - cut services.  In the long run this is a poor policy.  It generates a yo-yo effect.  Cutting our support of educational programs, health care, and infrastructure maintenance leads to an increase in emergencies in the future - road, bridge and building deterioration, a population with unchecked health problems and our youth without employment.  Hopefulness moves in the direction of hopelessness and crime begins to increase.

A sane society does not find this acceptable anymore than would an individual whose income has decreased.  We have two choices: get another job and/or live more frugally.  Those are the two ways that the City of Boston needs to redirect its energies in order to maintain the viability of our community as we go through difficult economic times.

Any duplication of city services or the use of funds in a program without demonstrable benefit should be considered for elimination.  At the same time the City of Boston needs to get "a second job."  Whether this be through an increase in taxes or permission for volunteer groups to take on some tasks or moving events from public management to citizen management, any creative idea that allows us to continue to support what is deemed necessary to maintain our future must be considered.  We must be open to new, if challenging, ways of handling city services.

We note that there were not many suggestions provided for "revenue generation."  That is typical for a government body but it doesn't have to be.  It is important that we identify the cost of essential services required for a healthy city, then work creatively to generate the income.

Identify revenue-generating activities for parks such as sledding, cross-country skiing and other summertime activities  Tito Jackson
Make sure the PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) program contributes fairly to city resources
Cornell Mills
  

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