Endorsements for Boston City Council, 2017

Following my Mayor of Boston post is the separate yet equally powerful list of endorsements for Boston City Council.

Endorsements for open seats:

Jack Kelly III, District 1jack-kelly-235x300

The first time I had the opportunist to meet Jack Kelly was during his run for At-Large City Council back in 2013. After hearing speak about his life, it wasn’t too difficult for me to see myself supporting his bid. In this instance, I also see myself supporting him to succeed Councilor Sal LaMattina. Rather than talk about his personal life, because haven’t we all at one point or another, I will instead talk about what he has been doing since he started to stand back up. Back in 2006, Mayor Menino took a chance on him by appointing him as the Charlestown Neighborhood Liaison where he remained for 5 years. As Kelly said in this BizJournals article:

By giving me a chance and an opportunity to prove myself, all these other goals I have are now attainable.

Second chances are crucial to a person attaining rehabilitation and recovery. Since 2013, Kelly has served Governor Baker’s Health Care Transition Team, Mayor Walsh’s Substance Abuse Task Force, and has joined the staff of District 2 Councilor Bill Linehan through the term of 2016 through 2017, as a policy director primarily dealing with addictions and recovery:

Jack will be a great addition to our staff. He will help lead the initiative to develop a strategy to raise revenue to combat the devastating effects of addiction. Given his experience in this field, he will help garner support and develop proper policy to help current efforts across the city and state.

Kelly is also Founder and CEO of iRecover mobile app, which allows people struggling with addiction to find local meetings, network with others, and call out directly for help.

Mike Kelley, District 2

Hero-ImageTo fill the seat being vacated by Councilor Bill Linehan, I couldn’t think of anyone more fit to lead than Mike Kelley. A former LGBT Liason and Bay Village/Sout End Neighborhood Coordinator for the City of Boston under Mayor Menino, I am confident Kelley will do great things in the City Council for all Boston residents.

In 2001, he served as Menino’s campaign director before taking on as administrator and director for the city’s Rental Housing Resources, which was created in 1995 to provide advice, information and assistance to Boston landlords and tenants who have problems or questions about rental housing issues. In this role, he was able to listen to problems both from tenants and landlords in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Next is endorsements for incumbents:

Ayanna Pressley, At-Large Ayanna Pressley head shot

It is no surprise I would be supporting my favorite person on the City Council. From promoting the role of Early Education and Care (EEC) to acquiring liquor licences (with plans of more) that could greatly effect the economic outcome of Dorchester and Mattapan, to rallying for University of Massachusetts Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley over racism within the university system, to hosting ‘Jump into Peace’ which is a event to honor girls and women lost to violence, foster healing, sisterhood, and to promote peace – she is absolutely fantastic!

I remember the first time I met Ayanna, at the Neighbor to Neighbor Open House back in 2010, alongside then-Councilor Felix G. Arroyo, This made her the fourth Massachusetts elected I have met following Governor Mitt Romney in 2003, and State Representative Carl Sciortino also in 2010. If you want someone who brings it – vote Ayanna!

Annissa Essaibi George, At-Large 1029_essaibi-george-01

Lifelong Dorchester resident. Business owner. President of Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association. Executive Director of Fields Corner Main Streets. High school teacher. Mother. If there is one thing I can say about Annissa, she has worn many hats, and this experience and understanding is something important when serving on the City Council. Annissa is also not afraid to call someone out, such as during the interview with the West Roxbury Patch back in 2013:

Patch: Not to be a jerk, but you’ve got four children, three young triplets, how could you be a full-time city councilor with all those little ones?

Essaibi-George: The triplets are seven and my other guy is eight, all boys. Have you asked the male candidates those questions.

Patch: Umm…

Essaibi-George: There are male candidates with young children… I understand… but I also know that question is not being asked ot male candidates.

Patch: You make a good point.

As a city councilor, she has served as chairwoman of the council’s Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health and Recovery, being in favor of the rapid rehousing model, rather than supporting more homeless shelter beds and transitional programs, as according to The Daily Free Press:

Shelters are not the solution. They are just a stopgap for people in crisis…What people really need is permanent support of housing. In recognition of this fact, the funding landscape has been changing … shifting its sights and its money away from transitional housing beds and shelters toward a rapid rehousing model that helps people stay stable in their own homes.

According to The Register-Guard article, “A path, not a warehouse“:

A shelter would not reduce the social and economic costs of homelessness unless it does more than provide a respite from the streets. A shelter must succeed in connecting people to health care, housing assistance, case management, counseling, employment and other social services — otherwise, it’s a warehouse that leaves people no better off than when they came through the door. The aim of a shelter must be to provide a pathway to stability, not enable long-term homelessness.

Several cities have established models worth investigating. In San Francisco, a program called the Navigation Center opened in 2015 with space for 75 people referred by the city’s homeless outreach team. It’s meant for people who have been on the streets for years and have avoided shelters or been turned away because they have pets or partners, need to store possessions, can’t meet sobriety standards or resist restrictions such as curfews. After its first six months of operation, 132 people had left the Navigation Center — half had found permanent housing, and about a third had been given bus tickets to their hometowns. Only 17 had been asked to leave.

The Navigation Center achieved those results by providing round-the-clock case management, mental and behavioral health services and connections to programs providing various types of benefits, including housing. Demand has since forced it to become a triage center with a 30-day limit for stays. But during its first six months the cost worked out to $69 per person per day, not counting the cost of city of San Francisco staff members, some of whom would have been working with homeless people in other settings. That’s more expensive than most shelters, but comparable to the cost of a night in the Lane County Jail.

Using the Navigation Center’s cost figures, a 50-person shelter in Eugene would need a yearly operating budget of $1.3 million — not counting ancillary public support. Another element, expensive but essential, would be a strong security force to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

It’s possible, if not likely, a non-addicted person could potentially enter a shelter through loss of housing and social (or family) support, and through that particular shelter system, meet other guests with addictions, join this social group, finally becoming addicted themselves. On top of this, several people on the street go from program to program that deals with solving addiction, but once the program releases them, they are sent right back onto the street again, vulnerable to falling back into their prior addictions. It’s a terrible idea to consider, but I’d say it’s possible not every drug or alcohol addict on the street was always an addict. Annissa’s support for the better model will help to curb pathways to long-term homelessness, as well as the possible creation of more addicts. Most recently, she has called for expanding the City of Boston’s Mobile Sharps team after testifying they had picked up more than 20,000 improperly discarded hypodermic needles within the year, stating according to the Sampan:

We’ve picked up 11,000 sharps since August 2016 and just can’t expect two employees to handle this volume. I’m committed to finding solutions to this issue.

For a cleaner, better future of Boston, I’d vote for Annissa.

Additionally, I’d also recommend voting for Michelle Wu (At-Large), Matt O’Malley (District 6), Andrea Campbell (District 4), and Josh Zakim (District 8).


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