Upham's Corner Online

District 7 Voting - Growing New Life

Posted: March 9, 2011     Nancy J Conrad


One tiny egg and an even tinier sperm can tip the balance of life. 

So it is with voting.  You take the time to stop in at your designated polling place, sign in and in a matter of moments - because you already know who you're voting for - you've marked your ballot and the poll workers watch you quietly slip your jacketed ballot into the voting box. 

Motivating people to vote is difficult.  It never feels like your voice is being heard.  But it is. Just like the tiny sperm and its cousin, the bulbous egg, after the task is complete, you don't feel any different.  It wasn't even enjoyable - just another task in the acts of the day.
Tito Jackson Cornell Mills

If, as you leave the polling place, you take with you the memory of the police officers and poll workers dutifully sitting at their tables, making sure the election process was handled without compromise, if you remember that you expressed your voice and made a difference through the democratic processes available here in the United States, then within you will grow a need to keep expressing your voice and continue making a difference in your community. 

Just like being pregnant, just like growing new life.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 6:30pm in Hibernian Hall, RoxVote held its second candidate forum for the special district 7 election.  Sarah Ann Shaw served as the moderator, with all eyes on her and the two candidates flanked on either side for a full 90 minutes of talk, talk and more talk. District 7 Elections

The candidates rotated "Who's on first?" to make sure there were no advantages, and except for the two-minute opening statements, all answers were limited to 1 minute.

Questions came from the sponsors of the evening's event followed by questions submitted by the audience.  Issues brought up repeatedly (at all forums) have included:
  • the high unemployment rate in District 7
  • Cori reform
  • access to City of Boston programs
  • more funding for youth workers
  • the pilot program
  • how to unite the disparate neighborhoods of District 7
  • maintenance of parks and green spaces
  • education including the Boston public schools, charter schools and teacher evaluation
  • deterring crime effectively
  • taking back our neighborhoods block by block
But the most interesting questions where those two questions that each candidate was allowed to ask the other.  It was at this point that a small melt in the frozen and frigid contest of political puffery opened a window into the humanity of these two people.  We laughed, applauded and watched the confrontation.  There should have been more questions in this category.
  • If I win, will you commit to working with me?
  • Do you think Chuck Turner was treated unfairly?
  • If you say you're so good, how come . . .?
Compared with their performance in forums held in February prior to the primary election, the two candidates, Tito Jackson and Cornell Mills, were on top of their game.  They both speak well, have a strong working knowledge of problems in the community and each brings a different approach to doing their job, the job each is hoping to win on March 15.

Both candidates are local to the district 7 area, having grown up in Roxbury and Dorchester, and both come from politically active households.  Neither candidate is a stranger to the advocacy and constituency components of the normal City Councilor position.  Tito Jackson has been active in the political scene for a long time in his positions with state government and Gov. Patrick.  Cornell Mills raised his family here and has been active in community and neighborhood issues.  He is also deeply committed to those he counts as his extended "street" family.

Tito likes to portray  he brings a machine that's already well organized to the position, and he does.  Cornell likes to emphasize the youth and crime deterring team he has already put together - a team dedicated to the young people whose lives have been distracted by their misguided criminal behavior and whose lives have been derailed by the Cori stigma.  

One attendee noted that both candidates are light in ideas and real plans - the "how."  It's true.  While they both openly commit to their intention to involve as many constituents as they can, neither candidate has been thrown overboard yet - to sink or swim.  A new councilor is just that - the new "guy" on the block. 

As a newbie, the newly elected counselor begins with the ties he has already established in the community.  From there the job is to build relationships with the existing city structure.  It will be a while before the momentum of either candidate can be seen or felt no matter how strongly their words fly out about action they plan to take.  Newcomers have to bide their time until they earn the respect of their "elders."

We, as residents of District 7, would do well to imagine ourselves as the parents of the newly elected District 7 Councilor, just on his way to the first day of school.  It's we who need to keep him on track.  

Typically that's not how it's done.  We expect that with the ballots cast, and with the election results confirmed, our job is done.  The reality is our job is just beginning.  

We, the residents, need to stay in close proximity to our newly elected councilor.  Our voices must never cease.  We need to organize ourselves as a huge support group enabling our representative to get the job done for us. 

Who is the better candidate?  It's not clear.  Is it the candidate who has the political support of almost everybody?  Is it the candidate who has devoted years of his life to making a difference in the streets?  Flip your coin - heads, it's Tito, tails it's Cornell.

Read Candidate answers to RoxVote questions:     Tito Jackson       Cornell Mills

Or maybe you'd like to submit your name as the write-in candidate. What would that tell you?  That you have the makings of a leader, that you need to follow your visions to make a difference in our community.

In the primary election in February, a grand total of 7% or about 2900 people of over 35,000 who live district 7 voted.  Sometimes we like to provide excuses for why registered voters at any one election didn't vote.  It's cold; it snowed; the candidates.

Who cares!  Let's face it. We need to rally ourselves around our political freedoms and make a commitment to participating in the voting process.  If the predicted outcome is obvious or highly in doubt, it doesn't matter.  For this election, both candidates will get the job done.  In a sense it doesn't matter who wins. 

As one of the candidates stated in answering his question, they (public works) look first to see if you're an active voter, then they decide when they're going to attend to your problem.  That may or may not be true, but we need to make sure we are all active voters holding our city accountable for its services.

Whoever you choose, and you must choose, commit to voting on March 15.  Mark every paper calendar in your house, schedule
every electronic calendar that keeps you ticking, and enlist every person in your life who is willing to say to you: "Don't forget to vote."

Don't forget to vote!

After all, who wouldn't want to become involved in growing new life?
District 7 Candidate Forum
Tito Jackson
District 7 Candidate Forum
Sarah Ann Shaw, Moderator
District 7 Candidate Forum
Cornell Mills
District 7 Candidate Forum District 7 Candidate Forum
District 7 Candidate Forum District 7 Candidate Forum

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