District 4 City Councillor Andrea Campbell, now a new mother, is working remotely for the most part lately, but her staffers are out and about as the team gears up for the coming term, she said, having spent her first taking the measure of the district.
“I have always though that District Four is a special place, not just because I live here with my family,” Campbell said. “It’s diverse in many aspects, not just age or gender, socio-economically, [in] race, sexual orientation, or occupation. If you really peel back the layers, the district could be seen as a microcosm of the entire city. With income equality, funding for parks and transportation, infrastructure, incidents of violence and trauma —all these things we see happening across the city.”
She counts among her accomplishments working with the city police departments to arrange for the Boston Police Department's 2018 Youth Development Grants, for which applications are now open for an award of up to $24,000. Her office is also closely monitoring the Boston Police’s body camera pilot program.
Her second term is going to be much more implementation-oriented, Campbell said. The district is good place to model pilots for city investments, she said, whether that be improving transit access or boosting economic development. As the councillor for parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, and Roslindale, her constituents are historically marginalized in terms of funding and resources.
Programming like the Neighborhood Slow Streets initiative asked for applications from small areas for traffic mitigation studies, and Campbell said residents were “really unsettled by the fact that one neighborhood was pitted against another for needs that both neighborhoods required.”
Five or seven areas across neighborhoods “isn’t enough,” she said. “What do we do for neighborhoods that weren’t picked, to show we understand their concerns?”
People don’t always feel heard in Boston, she said.
“When residents say they are not being heard, they mean they have brought concerns, complaints to the city and elected officials and have not seen a response to those concerns, those ideas,” she said. At a meeting in Roslindale, “I could feel the frustration in the room.” If long-time advocates feel nothing has changed, “we are losing folks,” she said, adding that the low voter turnout was troubling. “Either they are leaving the city because they’re so unhappy, or they’re becoming disengaged.”
If there is not a city plan providing tangible responses to standing concerns, thinking locally may be the way to go. Campbell wants to bring residents in to help create a District 4-focused plan with a few definitive short term and long term goals.
“We’ve been advocating for long time,” she said. “Let’s get to work on making it happen. Let’s not just advocate… let’s come with concrete ideas that make it easier for the mayor to say yes, let’s partner on that."