Throughout his life, newly named Mayor of Dorchester David Anderson, an operations manager for Greater Boston Management, split his time between Dorchester and Braintree, before he and his wife Jennifer decided they wanted to raise their three daughters in his native neighborhood. The Reporter’s Rowan Walrath recently sat down with Anderson to talk about his campaign, which raised nearly $21,000 to support the Dorchester Day Parade, his love for the community, and what he hopes to do in his ceremonial position.
Q. Congratulations on winning the Mayor of Dorchester race. Are you from here originally?
A. I’m from Dorchester, like my whole family. I was born and raised in St. Mark’s on Semont Road.
Q. Are you a lifelong Dorchester guy?
A. Right before high school, my parents moved us out to Braintree, and I lived out there for seven or eight years. And then I moved back to Lower Mills and lived there for about seven or eight years. Then Jennifer and I decided that we wanted to start having babies, so we ended up in Braintree for two years beginning in 2014. Then we came back here last November.
Braintree’s not for everybody. I mean, it’s a beautiful town, it’s great, I just — I love this city. I love the different elements here that you’re exposed to.
Q. What do you love about Dorchester?
A. Oh, everything. Part of the reason that I wanted to move back: I have three daughters, I have a beautiful family. Here, the sense of community, the altruistic nature of that community and how involved people are, not only helping people that need it but also just anything in general, whether it’s parks or cleaning up community streets, and the obvious stuff, the community groups, they do tons. What that creates, what that teaches you — which is one of the most important things that you can be taught — is the art of giving back.
It’s not just about taking, it’s about helping others and giving back. Here, it’s so diverse and so spread. There’s so many different things. It’s not like two events a year. It’s like, “What do you want to do?” and you can do it today. I really feel like I learned a lot from that, and it’s a big part of who I am, from all that stuff, and I wanted to expose my children to all of that. I could go on and on.
But the overall picture is that it’s because I believe that there’s no better place on Earth to raise a family. The city can be trying sometimes. I know people feel certain ways about it, but if you’re active and you’re engaged, if you’re part of the solution, you’re part of making it good, then it’s really actually the best place to raise a family. That’s why I’m here, and that’s why I came back.
Q. What are some of your favorite activities and groups here?
A. Some of my favorite groups are going to revolve around my children, of course — but movies in the park are pretty cool that they’ve done in the past couple years. I obviously love the parade, the Memorial Day Parade as well as the Dorchester Day Parade. I love when they do the antique cars in Dot Park. I think that’s a really cool event. The Easter egg hunt, awesome; there are Easter bunnies there, pictures, the little kids chasing each other around. The Irish Festival is amazing every year, now they have it down here, too. You know what all of those events have? Tons of families and kids and people that care and are just trying to be helpful and make this place awesome, keep this place awesome.
Q. How old are your daughters?
A. They’re 11, 4, and 1. They’re awesome.
Q. So tell me about your campaign?
A. I saw on Facebook they were doing the character breakfast as a fundraiser, so I said, oh, that’s actually probably really cool for my daughters — the princesses, and all that stuff – so I brought them there, and it was awesome. Just seeing all the little kids there and all the characters reminded me of the parades when I was young. I started asking questions, like why don’t we have all this stuff on the parades? Why aren’t there like a million princesses and Spider-Mans on the parade route? Money was the answer. I thought the parade was fun but I thought it was funded by the city, I didn’t realize it was private funds raised by the community.
I decided to run at that point.
I knew Carlos [Vargas] was doing the campaign, he had been raising money, so I decided that was the best way that I could give back, given my life and schedule and not being able to come in to too many things. I joined, I filled out the paperwork, and I started a GoFundMe page and just started peppering everyone I know and using Facebook.
Raising money around here sometimes can be tough given the fact that there’s always like 75,000 different groups, politicians, organizations that need money. I just kind of stayed on everybody. I would shoot a text with the link, like, “10 bucks, please, 10 bucks.” Me and Carlos did our events together, we did our fundraiser together. We had a debate, a Mayor of Dorchester Day Parade debate, over at Boston Bowl. It was hilarious. Mostly, I just reached out to people, you know?
I raised around $8,700 or something like that, and then the day before the deadline, my brother Christopher and his partner wrote a $12,000 check to the Dorchester Day Parade committee. I was mind-blown, like, “Can you believe it?” My brother, same thing, he’s from Dorchester, his whole life. They own and operate a business [Greater Boston Management] here in the city, where we are right now. They have a lot of housing in the city, a lot of affordable housing in the city. They always are involved in giving back to certain organizations and things like that, so when they saw me doing this, they got really excited about it.
Q. Now that you have this sort of community platform, what are you hoping to do with it?
A. What the parade committee has already done, which is moving toward making the parade bigger, better, more family-friendly. I hope that people can see this and my motives behind it as it relates to my family and the girls and understand that if everybody gave a little bit, not just money but of their time, of their energy, of that incredible love and pride they have for Dorchester. I just think that energy and positivity are infectious, and I think when people see that and they see people excited and they see good, happy, positive things happen, they want to be a part of that. That is my only hope, and that’s what I’ll continue to try to do is get people to reengage or engage into something like this, the community, whether it’s new people from Dorchester that just moved here or whether it’s people that have been here forever, whatever the case.