Two first-time candidates, both from Dorchester, have thrown their names into the ring for city councillor at-large in this year’s municipal election. Aziza Robinson-Goodnight and William A. King say the council could use a fresh perspective as the city booms.
If they follow through on their plans, the challengers, who recently filed statements of organization with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, would be running against four at-large incumbents, Ayanna Pressley, Michael Flaherty, Michelle Wu, and Annissa Essaibi-George.
Robinson-Goodnight grew up splitting time between her two-family home on Upland Avenue and an apartment in the old Chickering Piano Factory near the South End/Roxbury line. “I’m three generations in, in this city,” the 33-year-old said in a phone interview on Tuesday, “so I actually get the landscape of the city. I’ve seen the beauty and the problems.”
Development, gentrification, and youth employment resources are at the top of her mind at this point. With a two-year-old daughter, she is also thinking ahead about the city’s educational resources.
Robinson-Goodnight points to her creative and service credentials as the backbone of her run. “Preserving cultural assets is important to understanding history, which empowers us as people to want to be engaged,” she said.
Currently chair of the Frederick Douglass Sculpture Project, she has worked as the artist in transit for the Fairmount Cultural Corridor Initiative and served for four years on the executive board of the Boston branch of the NAACP, running the group’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) youth program.
“It’s time for a new voice to be heard,” she said. “And we’ve seen the arts be a vehicle to transform ways that are just set in stone. We talk about being an innovative city, so we need some real creative, innovative minds on the council.”
The other new face to the race, King, 27, has always called Dorchester home, living near Franklin Park along American Legion Highway. He told the Reporter on Tuesday that he decided to run to “bring a unique perspective to the council, being a young, biracial male born and raised in Dorchester.” Seeking elected office, he said, seems the best route to effect a positive change for his community.
He is a product of the Boston public schools and has worked in the technology department at TechBoston Academy in the Codman Square area for five years. Now working in IT for a real estate development firm, King said his time at TechBoston helped build an additional connection with the young people making their way through the public school system.
Boston schools could use reform, King said. He floated the idea of a longer school day that would be more in line with parents’ work schedules and added: “I think trade programs would be a good idea, so that students don’t just graduate with a diploma, they also graduate with certificate in a specific field, giving kids the skills to succeed after high school.”
Municipal election nomination papers can be pulled between April 19 and May 15; at-large council candidates need to secure 1,500 certified signatures by the filing deadline, May 23.