The race for District 8 City Council has become a little more crowded, with Boston native Kenzie Bok announcing her candidacy on March 29—the fourth candidate so far to run. As the Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning at the Boston Housing Authority and a lecturer of justice in housing at her alma mater Harvard University, affordable housing is high on her list of priorities. She said that the role has given her “a real lens on the challenges we face” as a city when it comes to housing. She said that she believes that many people throughout the city are worried about the displacement of people and families, and she wants to take how quality of life can be preserved.
Bok was also one of the leaders on the “Yes on 5” campaign in 2016 to bring Community Preservation Act funds to Boston. She said she’s proud to see actual projects that utilize these funds coming to life across the city.
“People and institutions have really nurtured me my whole life and I’ve grown up seeing how the fabric of every corner of the district has been affected by people, neighbors, civic leaders, and political leaders,” Bok said. “I think we need a bold and creative leadership on the council.”
She said that her life and career in Boston has shaped her vision for what she would want to accomplish as part of the Boston City Council. She said that in her role as a citizen, she’s thought about how to create new options and tools for the issues that the city faces. “Sometimes we have to look at our current resources or processes,” she said, and think about “how do we get different tools, how do we work together?”
Bok said that a main focus for city councilors is education and working to make sure that families are able to stay in the city and know that there is reliable, quality education for their children. Bok is no different—education is a main focus for her, as is addressing climate change in the city. “As the city grows, how does it grow well in ways that preserve what’s precious to Bostonians about the fabric of the city, and also preserve the precious thing of the city being a place for all?” she said.
She said one of the biggest issues to tackle is growth in the city and making sure that the quality of life is the same for all Bostonians. Transportation is another part of this growth, she said. As a T rider herself, she believes that the city council plays an important role in transportation across the city.
Bok believes she is the best candidate for District 8 because she can bring a “youthful mix of experiences” to the role, and as a former Budget Director for City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, Bok believes this knowledge would help her immensely as budget oversight is an “important statutory role of the council,” she said.
“I think that I’ve been deeply embedded in the institutions of the district,” Bok said. She is also a board member at the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, as well as the chair of the Boston Ward 5 Committee. “I know first hand how important these issues are to life in the city,” she said, and “I feel like each of those experiences has given me a tool in the toolbox that I’m excited to use in this role.”
Bok was raised in Bay Village and now lives in Beacon Hill, and said that she feels lucky to have grown up with parents and grandparents who modeled that civic involvement was a regular part of life. “Running for council for me is about trying to make a similar contribution however I can.”
Endorsed by Rep. Livingston
State Rep. Jay Livingston announced on April 3 that he is endorsing Kenzie Bok for City Council. “Kenzie is highly knowledgeable of the issues that affect Boston today, such as rising housing costs, the relationships between public and private institutions, the significance of the historic nature of our neighborhoods, and the need to always understand the balances among the various communities who call Boston home,” Livingstone said in a press release. “When you combine that knowledge with Kenzie’s history of community involvement, whether it be supporting ballot initiatives and candidates or other causes, Kenzie’s background is perfect to be the next Boston City Councilor for the district I call home.”
The endorsement comes less than a week after Bok announced her candidacy and in the lead up to her first campaign event on April 11 at 6:00 p.m. at Lir Restaurant in the Back Bay. It also follows a strong first weekend of campaign fundraising. For more information on the campaign and Kenzie’s background, visit www.FriendsofKenzieBok.com.
“I really admire Rep. Livingstone’s thoughtful embrace of policy detail and his tireless advocacy for the benefit of our neighborhoods, the citizens of Boston, and all people in Massachusetts,” Bok said. “I am honored to earn his support. I look forward to working with Jay from our shared progressive values and standing alongside him at the community meetings and events where he is such a consistent, visible, and effective presence.”