District 4 candidates outline priorities in Reporter survey

Nine candidates are in the Sept. 14 preliminary election mix for the District 4 City Council seat being vacated by Andrea Campbell who is running for mayor, a move that created both a need to fill her seat, and a very healthy interest from a large group of hopefuls. The candidates will appear on the Sept. 14 ballot – along with those running for mayor and council at-large. The top two finishers will advance to the Nov. 2 final election.

The Reporter sent out questionnaires looking for their positions on key issues, background information, and professional experience. Many replied, explaining how they would approach being the District 4 councillor at City Hall. Their responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Evandro Carvalho

Age: 39, Born: Praia, Cape Verde
Residence: 70 Fuller St., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND

What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

I currently serve as the Director of the Human Rights Commission of Boston. I have served as an assistant district attorney in Roxbury and West Roxbury and in Gun Court downtown. I also served two terms as the 5th Suffolk District State Representative as a Democratic member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. After graduating from Madison Park High School, I went on to graduate from the University of Massachusetts, where I was the president of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance. I later graduated from Howard University School of Law.

Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations, and political groups.

I am a progressive Democrat. I was also on the board of Teen Empowerment in Dorchester and a volunteer for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA). I currently serve as the executive director of the Boston Human Rights Commission.

What is your top priority if elected?

One of my top priorities for a long time has been to strive for economic social justice - we need to close the wealth gap that exists in the City of Boston through increasing homeownership and business opportunities for Black and Brown people. Drawing inspiration from my political role models, I will constantly live and work for the benefit of the residents of District 4. My goal is to increase their access to quality education, valuable jobs, and suitable housing.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?

“To reduce gun violence, we need a comprehensive approach that involves empowering our youth, strengthening our civic engagement, and working with our local police to stop the violence. As a state representative during budget season, my number one priority was always funding for youth jobs and violence prevention. I ensured millions of dollars to line items such as Youth Works, Shannon Anti-Violence Grants, and the Safe & Successful Youth Initiatives (SSYI). As a city councillor, I will review whether we are getting a fair share of this state funding in District 4. I will also continue to push for the city to invest in its Youth Fund line item…Currently, the city hires 10,000 young people every summer. We should aim to double that to 20,000.

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

I think Mayor Walsh did a good job for our city. I’d give him a B.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

I think Mayor Janey has done a good job so far and would also give her a B.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

I enjoy spending time with my best friend and wife, Ashely, and our beautiful daughters, Eliana and Anaya. I also enjoy working out, going for runs, and driving my six-speed manual car.

Read Evandro Carvalho's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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Will Dickerson

Age: 42, Born: Boston
Residence: 41 Gleason St., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND
What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

I currently work as an employee for the City of Boston. I am a former Boston City Council aide. I served on City Councillor Michael Flaherty’s staff as his director of constituent services. I attended Grover Cleveland Middle School and North Cambridge Catholic High School. I also attended Becker College.

Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations and political groups.

My first experience with non-profits was at the age of 10 at the Tobin Community Center working with “Dunk the Vote,” where I was under the leadership of Ron Bell. Since my time in Councillor Flaherty’s office, I have connected with civic associations and non-profit groups. These connections continued when I worked at the area B-3 Boston Police Department station where I was a civilian liaison in the Community Service Office and attended weekly meetings, connecting with various non-profits, civic associations, and political groups.

What is your top priority if elected?

Ensuring that our communities are safe and healthy throughout District 4 and in the City of Boston. I will also focus on our teens and work to ensure we have productive programs in place that can address the increasing amount of mental health issues that are troubling our young people.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?

Although we have a city-wide plan to address these issues, I will have a district plan in place after meeting with various violence prevention experts and former offenders of gun violence of various ages. We must address this issue at a very young age, and provide meaningful resources to help solve the problem and (have) fewer meetings. There has to be a clear plan of action, and follow-up is very key. This is a conversation that everyone should be included in, and I will ensure those important connections are in place.

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.
I would give Mayor Walsh’s administration a “B.” He worked tirelessly through this last unprecedented year dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that hit our City. Mayor Walsh’s unwavering leadership helped ensure the City of Boston is thriving today.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

I would give acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office a “B” due to the circumstances that have allowed the City of Boston to keep moving forward during a global pandemic. It’s not easy to leave the ranks as a city councillor and take over as mayor.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

I have found that spending time with my family and close friends is the best way to unwind when I am not on the campaign trail.

Read William Dickerson's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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Deeqo Jibril

Age: 43, Born: Somalia
Residence: 35 Harvard St., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND

What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal education background and achievements.

Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (Neighborhood Business Manager); ABCD Housing Division (Affordable Housing advocate); Dorchester Bay EDC; Children’s Services of Roxbury; Catholic Charities.

Washington Irving Middle School; Boston English High School; UMASS Boston College of Public and Community Service (degree-candidate).
Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations, and political groups.

Urban Edge- Board Member; Volunteer Lawyers Project-Board Member; Mass Vote-collaborate to increase voter participation; Massachusetts Immigration & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA); Parent Professional Advocacy League- Board Member; Harvard, Washington, Norwell Street Tenant Association-member.

What is your top priority if elected?

Increase public safety by building a safer, healthier, and more supportive environment.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?

Nobody is born wanting to join a gang…I want to create and invest in educational and extracurricular opportunities for kids under 18. Once someone turns 18, however, we cannot just give up on them. That is why I also want to create developmental programs such as job and employment workshops for young adults from 18 to 26. For non-violent inmates, I want to create opportunities to gain credit (time) toward the completion of their sentence for mentoring Boston youth starting at the age of 10 as a proactive way to educate youth on the dangers and consequences of gun violence.

In connection to all these individual ideas, mental health must remain a constant theme and emphasis. We must take care of the mental health of young people. I am confident that if we provide a safe environment with plentiful opportunities, violence and gang association will decrease.

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

I would give the Walsh administration a B- for their performance. They performed very well during the pandemic and they had done their best to help underserved communities. However, I would have liked to have seen more inclusivity from the administration and at times there was not enough communication with the public.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

No answer given.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

When not campaigning, I enjoy spending time with my kids and my mother. I am close with my family and I spend all the time with them that I can.

Read Deequo Jibril's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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Joel Richards

Age: 37, Born: New Rochelle, NY
Residence: 1 Parkman Place, Dorchester.

BACKGROUND
What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

Proud Boston Public School teacher. I got my undergraduate from Morehouse College and went on to get my master’s in education from Union University.

Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations, and political groups.

I am a member of the Boston Teachers Union, a chair of Boston Black Lives Matter at school, and a board member of MassCUE.

What is your top priority if elected?

My top issue will be to push for the equitable Boston Public School system that our families deserve. I have been a teacher in BPS for over eight years, and in this time I have seen too many classrooms overcrowded, school facilities falling apart, and students going without the academic and emotional support they deserve. This inequality cannot go on. We need more direct investment in our public education system…We also need a transparent budgeting process, so that our parents, teachers, and students have a say where our tax dollars are going. Historically we have not provided our working-class families and youth of color the means to succeed, and we as a City have a moral obligation to do so…I want to dedicate myself to the retrofitting of schools and installing solar panels across BPS facilities.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?

As a Boston Public School teacher I have both witnessed and felt the impact this needless violence has on our communities…What we need to do is examine the conditions that make this violence commonplace in our society. Oftentimes, perpetrators are those who were denied a good education, secure housing, and economic opportunity…we must invest in our neighborhoods and provide our youth the opportunities and security they deserve to prevent them from going down a regretful path…we need to invest in professionals who can assist afflicted individuals now and rehabilitate them before they do something they cannot undo…

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

B-.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

It would only be fair to give an incomplete since Mayor Kim Janey has not finished her term.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

With two kids, unwinding looks like long walks with the whole family, play dates with friends, movie nights with friends, and date nights when Grandma can watch the kids at night.

Read Joel Richard's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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Leonard Lee

Age: 63, Born: Boston
Residence: 11 Mather St., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND
What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

Curator, Dillaway Thomas House, Roxbury Heritage State Park; Manager, Melnea Cass Recreation Center, MA Dept. of Conservation & Recreation. (I) worked as director of the Division of Violence & Injury Prevention for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health…(I) also served as deputy commissioner of Public Health for the state of Connecticut, executive director of the ABCD Dorchester Neighborhood Service Center, Odwin Learning Center, and executive director of the Roxbury YMCA. I am a commisioner on the City of Boston Parks Commission, the City of Boston Human Rights Commission and many other community boards, (as well as producing) Ebony Winter Gala and Beantown Jazz Festival
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island, awarded Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management and Marketing, 1982. Studied business management at Boston University. AS Degree in Retail Merchandising; Meditation Works Inc. Professional Mediator; Boston University’s School of Management Institute for Non-profit Management & Leadership. Awards: Boston Magazine, Boston Heroes, 2020.
Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations and political groups.

Past and present board and commission member of the following: Central Boston Elder Services;…Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; African American Federation; Street Peace; Big Brother Association of Greater Boston; Ella J. Baker House. Youth Violence Prevention Funders Learning Collaborative-Chair;…Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention Statewide Task Force; and Omega Psi Phi, Inc. Fraternity.

What is your top priority if elected?

Public safety and bringing the city back better from Covid-19 through the lens of equity.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?

I will work to make District 4 a safe place to live, work, and raise families by focusing on effective community-building and violence prevention strategies. I support gun buybacks and increased penalties on straw purchases of guns…I believe neighborhood associations must join together to walk the streets, engage with young people, push for youth employment, push for gun buybacks and encourage police officers to engage with young people on the ground, rather just on patrol. On police reform, I believe the racist culture of the Police Department must change to reflect more inclusion, transparency, and accountability. We need to improve recruitment and training standards and require implicit bias training - strengthen the Internal Affairs Oversight Panel and appoint new members of the Civilian Review Board. Police officers must remain residents of the City of Boston to foster better engagement with the neighborhoods…

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

Passing grade.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

Passing grade.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

As an urban bee keeper, I look after my bee hives. And I enjoy fishing. As a musician, I play my drums. I also like to take walks in Franklin Park.

Read Leonard Lee's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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Josette Williams

Age: 53, Born: Brooklyn
Residence: 91 Fowler St., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND

What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

I am the interim director of BPS’s Countdown to Kindergarten program…One of my earliest jobs was working with youth organizers engaging with “at-risk youth” (the term used at the time) with newcomer communities, especially Asian and Latin American, in collaboration with multilingual and multicultural youth communities in East Boston to advance their leadership and build inroads with community policing; I helped to create Green Shirts, a spin-off of Red Shirts, with the city to employ youth in developing, maintaining, green spaces where they lived. (Funded by the late Mayor Tom Menino’s Main Streets Program and the Pew Charitable Trust).

I attended Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational Technical High School (Wakefield, MA), finishing with a high school diploma and medical assisting as the trade. Cambridge College (3 years + 2 courses from a bachelor’s degree). Graduated from Emerge Massachusetts, Class of 2021.
Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations and political groups.

First Teacher, Vital Village Networks and Vital Village Community Partnerships out of BMC (Boston Medical Center) and the DSNI (Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative) School-Readiness Roundtable.

What is your top priority if elected?

In terms of policy, rethinking how we partner with families as they support their child’s educational journey, starting at birth; ensuring consistent equity throughout their education experience. In terms of constituent services, accountability from 311. How is our district being responded to or not?

How will you approach the issue of gun violence?   

1. Investment in our young people. 2. Community building block by block, building trust with one another. 3. Recovery piece - ensuring we are getting trauma informed care to our community, including 24-hour access to high-quality and culturally appropriate mental health services, and workforce development and access to high-quality employment. 4. Community policing: insisting on more authentic relationships between officers and community members, ensuring that officers are held accountable to the community. Improvement data is shared with the community on progress of police reforms, civilian board transparency and accountability, stakeholder partnerships with trauma-informed care emergency response teams and culturally responsive practices.

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

C+. Nothing about Mass and Cass, housing and contracts for BIPOC - no accountability. [They] really did not address the exam school issue - every time there was an attempt for real progressive equity work in the schools, he skirted - until Mayor Janey stepped in. He did take a positive stance on immigration…Sanctuary Cities, libraries restored, Covid relief, and support.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

B+. Exam schools, OPAT, housing - increasing people’s ability to access funds for first-time homebuyers.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?
Connecting with friends and family; cleaning and organizing my home; playing spades; the moment I can hit the dance floor again will be a joyous occasion.

Read Josette Williams' full responses to the Reporter questionnaire here.

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Brian Worrell

Age: 38, Born: Boston.
Residence: 42 Columbia Rd., Dorchester.

BACKGROUND
What is your present occupation? Also, please note any past employment that may be relevant to your candidacy. Please detail your personal educational background and achievements.

I am a small business owner…Previously, I was an assistant project manager…Also worked in various accounting departments after graduating from Northeastern. METCO Alumnus ; Northeastern Alumnus (BA in accounting with a minor in entrepreneurship); Licensed Real Estate Broker.

Please list some of your affiliations with non-profits, civic associations and political groups.

I have partnered and volunteered with several non-profits and civic associations in the past few years such as Kings of Kings; Erie/Ellington; TNT; River Street Association; Balfour Academy; and the Cape Verdean Association of Boston. I am also a member of the local chapter of the NAACP.

What is your top priority if elected?

I believe that our community has been undervalued, underinvested, and underserved and it is through no fault of our own…When you have the skillset to help in the advancement of the people, it is only right that you put it to use. My [first] priority is helping the community fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic because our community has been the hardest hit in the city (e.g., health disparities, many job losses)…My second priority is urban talent and youth development (e.g., building up the youth talent through high-tech trainings, entrepreneurial grants, higher education scholarships) so the next generation can start to fill up the many great career opportunities our Greater Boston Metro has to offer - including in finance, high-technology research and development, tourism, medicine, education, commercial fishing, food processing, printing and publishing, and government. My third priority is tackling the affordable housing crisis…It is one issue that would be front and center during my time in office.

How will you approach the issue of gun violence in our communities?
We need to create a neighborhood task force that has trusted partners in each neighborhood to engage, create spaces where conflicts can be resolved, and provide resources. We need to create more youth programs that create after school and summer jobs. Re-entry programs need to have clear pathway to job opportunities and stipends. We need to invest in universal pre-K, early childhood education, workforce development programs and create more sustainable jobs in the trades and jobs of the future. I would work with my colleagues to support agendas that rid our community of senseless gun violence.

What is your assessment of the Walsh administration’s overall performance? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

Under Mayor Walsh, we saw investments in education, increase in housing development and the fight against climate change. Including all demographics and communities in the economic benefits of these investments and the inclusiveness of the benefits are areas where we can grow.

What is your assessment of the acting Mayor Kim Janey’s performance since taking office in March 2021? Please offer a letter grade or pass/fail as part of your answer.

I would encourage the mayor to bring more opportunities to our community and show people how to grab hold of those opportunities. I appreciate the PILOT programs setup by the mayor where the 28 Bus is fare-free and the expansion of the mental health response calls. These types of programs will allow our community to better recover from the devastation caused by the pandemic. This is my focus.

When not on the campaign trail, how do you unwind?

Spend time with the family. Watch a movie with the kids, work out, play sports - whether it is soccer, tennis or basketball. Learning new/old recipes with my mom or from the YouTube chefs. Picking up a good book or play a strategy game.

Read Brian Worrell's full responses to the Reporter's questionnaire here.

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