Letter to the Editor

A Group of Candidates Ready to Meet the City’s Challenges and Opportunities Head On

Dear Editor,

When Boston voters go to the polls on September 14, many issues will be on their minds. How can we ensure that our recovery from the recession and the pandemic leaves us with a more equitable and sustainable city than we were before? How can we ensure that our students, who have had a chaotic year and a half in and outside of the classroom, have the support they need to succeed? How do we rethink public safety in a way that reduces violence while investing in and empowering communities that have been overpoliced? How do we prepare our coastal city for the threat of climate change, with a rapidly closing window for action? How can we prevent people from being priced out of the city they love and guarantee that Boston is a place where people can afford to live—and to thrive—at any stage of life? The questions abound.

Fortunately, Boston voters are blessed with candidates who are ready to meet these challenges head on, which is why the Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee is proud to endorse Michelle Wu for mayor; Councilor Julia Mejia, David Halbert, and Ruthzee Louijeune for City Councilor At Large; and Ed Flynn and Kenzie Bok for re-election for Districts 2 and 8, respectively.

Since being elected in 2013—when she was a Ward 4 resident, I might add—Councilor Michelle Wu has helped to redefine the role of the City Council, making it a proactive body that leads on policy. She spearheaded successful ordinances to guarantee paid leave for city workers—a model for the Commonwealth; increase renewable energy purchasing in the city and protect our wetlands; ban the racist practice of facial surveillance in the Boston Police Department; more strongly regulate short-term rentals so our neighborhood housing stock isn’t turned into mini-corporate hotels; and leverage city dollars to provide locally sourced, sustainable, and nutritious food for the Boston Public Schools. And the list goes on. Wu has also helped us reimagine the possible, whether setting the agenda on fare-free public transit, on envisioning a municipal Green New Deal, or on abolishing the BPDA in favor of a planning process that prioritizes community, equity, and sustainability. She is uniquely ready to lead our city through both the challenges and opportunities we face.

Although we have a strong-mayor system, Councilor Wu has shown herself to have a collaborative style of leadership. And a Council ready to collaborate and innovate will be key.

Every election, we hear that every vote matters, and two years ago, Councilor Julia Mejia proved it by winning by one vote. She deserves to be re-elected by more. With a background as a community organizer, Mejia has been a powerful voice for language access and youth empowerment. Her advocacy secured a youth seat on Boston’s new Civilian Review board, and the budget town halls she organized with Councilor Kenzie Bok—as well as impromptu ones in barber shops—brought more people into a process often viewed as arcane. Creative and responsive to the community, she spearheaded the ordinance to allow for residential kitchens, make it legal for people to prepare foods in their homes for retail profit—a move especially potent for women of color in the city.

With four councilors running for mayor and one more retiring, the Council will be experiencing quite the turnover. Dave Halbert, fortunately, brings fifteen years of experience in public service, including as a legislative aide in the Boston City Council. He understands how city government can advance equity-focused solutions that make Boston a better place for all of its residents. Currently working for an initiative at MIT that uses higher education and technology to empower incarcerated individuals, he sees clearly how we need to expand who has access to the opportunities Boston can offer. As a BPS parent who would be the first Black man elected citywide since the 1980s if elected this fall, he would bring an important lens to policymaking.

Few first-time candidates are as impressive as Ruthzee Louijeune. A Harvard-trained attorney and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Louijeune has represented tenants and homeowners facing displacement, running a weekly eviction clinic to ensure that Boston residents know their rights, and has advocated to address the systemic barriers to affordable housing and home ownership with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance—experiences that are vital amidst a burgeoning affordable housing crisis. As an attorney, she has also worked on racial gerrymandering and voting rights cases before the Supreme Court to protect and expand the right to vote. She has a persistence reminiscent of our Senator Elizabeth Warren, for whom she served as Senior Counsel (and who has endorsed her campaign, as well as that of Councilor Wu).

Councilors Ed Flynn and Kenzie Bok are running uncontested, but they have more than earned our endorsement for their re-election. Flynn is a reliable attendee and participant in community meetings in the South End, has a strong constituent services program, and—in recognition of the diversity of the district—has taken the lead on issues of language access and immigrants’ rights. A deep and creative thinker, Bok has been a leading voice for affordable housing on the Council, proposing ideas for how to use public land and reform the zoning process to make a more equitable and sustainable city. She has also been a key proponent of PILOT reform, working to ensure that the universities and other major institutions largely concentrated in her district pay their fair share.

With a date of September 14, the preliminary election is just around the corner, and the summer will go by fast. But it is worth paying attention early, especially with impressive candidates like these. 

Ward 4 Democratic Committee

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