Mayoral candidate City Councillor Tito Jackson made an appearance at the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association’s first meeting of the fall on Monday, two weeks before the preliminary election. Jackson pitched his story and solicited votes from members of one of Dorchester’s largest civic groups, one that was once led by his chief opponent, Mayor Martin Walsh.
Both Walsh and Jackson— presently a city councillor representing district 7— will appear on the mayoral ballot in the Sept. 26 municipal election, along with candidates Joseph Wiley and Robert Cappucci.
“Boston has given me everything that I am,” Jackson said, sharing his background -- conceived after his young mother was assaulted by two men, born Boston City Hospital, given into foster car until he was adopted at two months old. His adopted parents took in Jackson and three other adoptees, joining their four children at the Schuyler Street home.
“Families could afford to live in the city of Boston when I was a kid, and that is sadly a dream that many families cannot afford now in the city that we live in,” Jackson said. Much of the city’s housing does not meet his idea of affordability, he said, noting the extreme income inequality in Boston.
Jackson knocked the city’s planning agency, formerly the Boston Redevelopment Authority and now “after $600,000” the Boston Planning and Redevelopment Authority. The agency “literally lacks democracy,” Jackson said. He would redirect their budget and move some planning authorities “to folks at the neighborhood level, because what we are seeing at the city of Boston is we’re being bilked by the city that we built up.”
Jackson referenced both the proposal for a Kraft-backed stadium on Columbia Point and the Dot Block project in Glover’s Corner as examples of developments skipping community review and winning city approval. (The Dot Block project, which is awaiting permits to begin demolition and construction, has in fact solicited input at scores of community meetings, including at the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association.)
Speaking after a spate of weekend violence, Jackson said the Walsh administration lacks a comprehensive plan. Programs like College Bound Dorchester should be expended to link vulnerable young people to educational opportunities, which is tied to a reduction in violence, he said.
Jackson pledged to “fully fund the Boston Public Schools” and introduce K-12 computer science education and bolster arts programming. He also said he would hire more police officers, a cost offset by less overtime spending.
The civic group offered Jackson a polite reception, chuckling at his jokes and some nodding during his comments on the city’s aggressive approach to development.
In response to questions on how he planned to pay for his investments, Jackson said he would not hand out high-ticket incentive arrangements like the deal to bring General Electric to Boston. The tens of millions of city dollars in tax breaks should have been allocated toward local businesses and educational programming, Jackson said.
Walsh was invited to the meeting, civic leaders said. His Office of Neighborhood Services representative was in attendance at the meeting as usual.