At-large candidates outline their priorities

Two city councillors at-large running for City Hall’s top job and giving up their council seats have spurred more than a dozen people to throw their hats into the ring to replace them in this year’s election. The Reporter sent out questionnaires for the candidates to consider, and a number of them weighed in by listing their priorities once they’re inside City Hall. Their answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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SAID ABDIKARIM

36, Engineer and instructor, helper of fellow Somali immigrants resettling in US.

Top priority
Housing (expansion of affordable housing options, ownership disparities, and public housing).

Political role models
Mayor Menino. He was the first politician I ever volunteered for and had a personal interaction with. I also had the opportunity to meet Mayor Walsh and talk to him. I was really inspired by his life story and that he believed in giving people second chances.

Endorsements

We will announce our endorsements in the next week. We are waiting to hold a press conference with community leaders and the political leaders who will endorse us.

Walsh administration grade

B+
Read Said Abdikarim's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter Questionnaire here

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JAMES ‘REGGIE’ COLIMON

55, Roslindale resident and City of Boston manager of international partnerships.

Top priority
Re-energize Madison Park Vocational High School in Roxbury

Political role models

Martin Luther King, former mayor Marty Walsh, Haitian general and revolutionary Toussaint Louverture.

Endorsements: N/A

Walsh administration grade

A+. I was Mayor Walsh’s Liaison to the City Council for 3 years. And he deputized me to help develop a Global Affairs Team in the Economic Development Cabinet.

Read James "Reggie" Colimon's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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KELLY BATES

51, Hyde Park resident and president of Interaction Institute for Social Change.

Top priority
Affordable housing is my top priority in office. I believe we need to bring back rent control, double the IDP, and develop reliable pathways for affordable homeownership.

Political role models

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Civil Rights Movement. Gloria Steinem from the Women’s Movement. Tarana Burke from the MeToo Movement. They are examples of effective leadership that comes from humility, persistence, non-violence, storytelling, and truth-telling.

Endorsements (partial)

Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, MassNOW, Mass. Voters for Animals,
District City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, Former City Councilor At-Large Felix D
Arroyo, State Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz, State Rep. Liz Malia, former Boston NAACP Chapter Leader Michael Curry.

Walsh administration grade
B. Mayor Walsh began some important initiatives for housing and led us through COVID fairly well. However, too much of this city is still in the hands of wealthy developers and not individual resident families.

Read Kelly Bates's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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MICHAEL FLAHERTY

52, South Boston resident and incumbent city councillor running for re-election. Former prosecutor and Teamsters Local 25 member.

Top priority
My top priority is creating safe and truly affordable housing by strengthening and expanding our affordable housing policies to better meet the needs of Bostonians.

Political role models
Former state representative and judge Michael F. Flaherty Sr., my father, is my biggest role model. I grew up watching him make a career of helping people--getting people into treatment and recovery, getting young kids out of trouble, putting them into housing and quietly helping residents on a variety of issues. Two other role models would be the late Congressman Joe Moakley and former DA Ralph Martin.

Endorsements (partial):
Teamsters Local Union #25, Boston Teachers Union, Boston Firefighters Local 718, SEIU NAGE Local 5000, Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445, IBEW 2222, Boston Carmen’s Union #589, The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers Local 29, International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 4, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 6, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 22.

Walsh administration grade
He made extremely difficult decisions quickly to protect our City during the Covid-19 pandemic and helped guide us to where our City is today. Being Mayor of Boston is one of the hardest jobs in America and Marty worked that job 24/7 and I gotta give him an A.

Read Michael Flaherty's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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ALEX GRAY

37, Jamaica Plain resident, senior policy manager for the City of Boston’s office of workforce development. Former policy adviser for Mayor Walsh and Gov. Deval Patrick.

Top priority
Jobs & Economic Relief: As we work to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is critical that we implement policy centered on the communities that have been most impacted: people of color, seniors, the disability community, and frontline workers.

Political role models
I consider Secretary Marty Walsh, Gov. Deval Patrick, and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray as three of my political role models. Working firsthand with them allowed me to see examples of true public servants.

Endorsements (partial): Former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Jay Gonzalez, former 2018 Dem nominee for MA Governor, community activist Alkia Powell, Laborers Local 223, Boston Ward 10 Democratic Committee, Massachusetts Voters for Animals, Run for Something.

Walsh administration grade

Grade: Pass. Mayor Walsh was a great mayor who was a national leader on standing up for working people here in Boston. I was proud to work for his administration and saw every day how he led with compassion and concern for others.

Read Alex Gray's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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DAVID HALBERT

40, Dorchester resident and former staffer to Councillors Sam Yoon and John Tobin, as well as Gov. Patrick.

Top priority
Ensuring that Boston is able to address the ongoing impact of the pandemic on every part of city life in a manner that prioritizes equity for all neighborhoods and residents.

Political role models
Sam Yoon taught me that leading based on values means that you must take risks, and that you will always sleep better at night - win or lose - if you know your decisions are based on your conscience. Charlotte Golar Richie inspires me by her example of not just identifying issues in her former role as a state representative, but of taking the leap into city government to lead the Department of Neighborhood Development and actively work to solve them. And as a former student of Governor Dukakis in graduate school, I saw his continued love of public service up close.

Endorsements (partial):
Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen Union Local 3, Massachusetts Nurses Association, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, United Auto Workers Region 9A, Sen. Joe Boncore, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Rep. Nika Elugardo
Boston City Councillor Ricardo Arroyo and Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo; Boston Ward 15 Democratic Committee, Jamaica Plain Progressives and
Progressive West Roxbury/Roslindale.

Walsh administration grade
B. While there were positives in terms of bringing a new culture and certain operational improvements to City Hall, there were also a number of ideas that seemed short-sighted, such as the Grand Prix racing proposal or the bid for the Summer Olympics, and the continuation of the city’s rampant income inequality.

Read David Halbert's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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RUTHZEE LOUIJEUNE

Mattapan native living in Hyde Park, attorney and former senior counsel on US Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential and US Senate campaign.

Top priority
First-generation homeownership grant-based programs targeted to communities that historically experienced blockbusting and redlining; increasing payments and advancing timing of payments made to the city by commercial and residential developers to fund affordable housing and homeownership; and using more public land for the development.

Political role models
Robert Louijeune, my father, a model for what it means to show up for and be in a community, and to care deeply about your neighbor. Marie St. Fleur: Needless to say, seeing a Haitian American woman stand up for our community left an incredible impact on me. Karilyn Crockett gave me my first job as a walking tour guide, exposed me to this rich and diverse city and gave me a sense of ownership over solving the city’s problems.

Endorsements (partial)
:
US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, former state Reps. Marie St. Fleur and Liz Miranda, City Councillors Lydia Edwards, and Ricardo Arroyo, Boston Teachers Union, Mass Nurses Association, Greater Boston Labor Council, Firefighters Local 718, IBEW Local 103, Sunrise Boston, Ward 15 Democrats.

Walsh administration grade
No answer provided.

Read Ruthzee Louijeune's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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JULIA MEJIA

51, Dorchester resident and former producer at MTV. Founder of CPLAN, citywide parent advocacy group and Determined Divas, volunteer-led civic engagement group for women of color.

Top priority
Our top priority is designing a type of government that doesn’t see people as obstacles to the work, but is determined to center them in every decision making process. 

Political role models
Ayanna Pressley taught me that I do not need to ask permission to be myself and to fight for what I believe in. Former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was unbought and unbossed. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who did not wait her turn or ask permission. Her leadership at a younger age and her commitment to her ideals was a driving force for me.

Endorsements (partial): State Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz, state Reps Liz Miranda, Nika
Elugardo, and Russell Holmes, former state Rep Charlotte Golar Richie,
Boston Teachers Union, Massachusetts Nurses Association, UFCW 1445,
Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, JP Progressives, West Rox/Roz Progressives,
MassNOW, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

Walsh administration grade

D.

Read Julia Mejia's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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CARLA MONTEIRO

38, Dorchester resident, Brigham and Women’s Hospital care transition specialist and Boston Children’s Hospital clinical social worker.

Top priority

Approaching issues from a holistic perspective and understanding the way they impact one another is what I have been educated and trained to do as a social worker. My platform can be summarized as a basic needs campaign.

Political role models
Two of my recent political inspirations are Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Pressley and I come from very similar backgrounds of struggle and obstacles that we’ve had to overcome not only to pursue political office but also just to get by in Boston. Ocasio Cortez’s documentary “Bringing Down the House” was a motivational look at the courage required to run for office and reminds me of many of the challenges I face on the campaign trail.

Endorsements:
Sunrise Boston, National Association of Social Workers, MA – PACE.

Walsh administration grade
Pass. The Walsh administration developed and began the implementation of many important projects related to addressing climate change, the housing crisis, ensuring safe and multi-modal streets, and much more. At the same time, we must acknowledge the inequity of contracts going to Black and Latino owned businesses, the persistent gun violence, and the police commissioner debacle that Mayor Walsh left behind.

Read Carla Monteiro's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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ERIN MURPHY

51, Dorchester resident, BPS kindergarten teacher and special education coordinator.

Top priority
As an educator in the Boston Public Schools for more than twenty years, I know what is working well and what needs to be addressed. I will make it a priority that all families have access to a high-quality public school in every neighborhood.

Political role models
I prefer doers not talkers. I always respected Jimmy Carter’s kindness and how he cared about people and always helped them. He spent 30 years helping to build and renovate homes for Habitat for Humanity, and still volunteers at the age of 96. I appreciated Ronald Reagan’s ability to make America proud of itself again.

Endorsements (partial):
State Rep. Dan Hunt, City Councillor Frank Baker, Laborers Union Local 223, IBEW Local 103, SEIU Local 888, Boston EMS, Boston Firefights Local 718, Boston Police Patrolman’s Association, Mass Women’s Political Caucus, Mass Nurses Assoc., Greater Boston Building Trades, Sheet Metal Workers Local 17.

Walsh administration grade

Passing grade. It is hard to grade his overall performance seeing that he left before his second term ended and many initiatives he started were not seen through. 

Read Erin Murphy's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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BRIDGET NEE-WALSH

42, South Boston resident and ironworker, owner of Southie’s Own Gift Shop and Babe Mannion’s Irish Shoppe

Top priority
Facilitating a more livable city for working families like mine. We need to make investments in affordable housing, better public schools, and public safety.

Political role models
I admire the work Congressman Lynch put in as president of our Ironworkers union, and the fact that he has constantly stood up for working families like mine in Congress. State Sen. Nick Collins has always put his constituents first and has never forgotten where he came from. I also have the utmost respect for Councillor Frank Baker and the work he has done for our city.

Endorsements (partial):

Greater Boston Building Trades, City Councilor Frank Baker, Ironworkers Local 7, Boston Firefighters Local 718, Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589
SEIU Local 888, IBEW Local 103, Sheet Metal Workers Local 17, Laborers’ Local 22.

Walsh administration grade
I would give his administration high marks for sure. However, he has left behind big shoes to fill, and I got into this race because I believe working families and organized labor need another ally in City Hall now that Marty has gone down to DC.

Read Bridget Nee-Walsh's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

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Jon Spillane

30, Hyde Park resident and former staffer for Councillor Kenzie Bok, housing development officer for City of Boston.

Top priority
Taking on the housing crisis, and to do that, we need a city-wide zoning overhaul in Boston. 

Political role models

Tom Menino. The Boston that I grew up in has gotten safer and more prosperous every year I’ve been alive. That wasn’t true for my parents or grandparents, and Mayor Menino, the “Urban Mechanic” was a primary factor. I admire that he prioritized the nuts and bolts issues of a neighborhood.

Endorsements (partial):

Suffolk County Register of Deeds Stephen Murphy, District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker, District 8 City Councilor Kenzie Bok, state Reps. Jay Livingstone and Adrian Madaro, Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Laborers’ Local 223.

Walsh administration grade
B+

Read Jon Spillane's full answers to the Dorchester Reporter questionnaire here

This post was updated on Thursday Aug. 26 after the Kelly Bates campaign offered a Walsh administration grade. In the original post, the answer said, "None given."

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