The following 4 questions were sent to all Boston City Councilor District 5 candidates with the option to answer some or all of them. The candidates' responses are unedited. Additional responses will be added as they are received. This is not an endorsement of any specific candidate. Responses have been uploaded as images; please expand to best view the text.
District 5 Candidates:
Ricardo Arroyo- No answers submitted
Maria Esdale Farrell
Yves Mary Jean- No answers submitted
Jean-Claude Sanon - No answers submitted
1) With programs like Greenovate and ZeroWaste Boston, the City of Boston is striving to be a model of climate action, sustainability, and elimination of pollution. What could we do to make Hyde Park a model to other Boston neighborhoods? How would you help achieve these goals as District 5 Councilor?
Maria Esdale Farrell: The City of Boston’s Greenovate program strives to educate residents about the impact of climate change and what each of us can do in response. While much of the attention around climate change centers on coastal communities, climate change is also having a profound impact on rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetland areas. With the Neponset River flowing through Hyde Park and Mattapan, with places like Turtle Pond, District 5 should be deeply invested in these issues and as District Councilor, I would strive to have more residents undergo leadership training, and in turn train more residents than any other district in Boston. Similarly, with a goal of dramatically reducing waste and protecting our natural areas, as District Councilor I will work with schools, residents, community programs and businesses to increase opportunities regarding education and participation in efforts such as environmental campaigns, composting, reducing food waste, and recycling streams for textiles. Promoting green policies and practices among local businesses is an especially good way to achieve these goals more quickly, while educating consumers, and promoting local businesses as leaders deserving of our patronage and support. Thinking outside the box we could provide out of classroom natural education opportunities which would increase awareness and a love for nature and the natural local resources that surround us in District 5.
Cecily Graham: As a city councilor I would achieve these goals, making Hyde Park a model to other neighborhoods by:
Alkia Powell: Primarily, I would work with the Boston City Council Environment and Safety Committee to reopen the web pages for Greenovate and ZeroWaste Boston to once again provide these resources to citizens. Additionally, I would work with the community to increase education about the pressing issue of climate change, and actively encourage the growth of our local recycling programs. Further, I would advocate for increased sidewalks and bike lanes, working towards lowering the overall emissions within the community. This has been a lifelong passion.
Mimi Turchinetz: I believe that not only can we make Hyde Park a model for other Boston neighborhoods, but given the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, we are morally obligated to develop creative programs and strategies in District 5 that can be scaled up and implemented across the city and beyond. As a city we should look to address a wide range of issues through the lens of addressing climate change. I was the founder and outgoing president of the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and we developed a program known as the Green Team, which provides summer jobs to a small number of Boston youth, providing them with job readiness skills, environmental stewardship, landscaping and other skills to allow them to explore the environmental field and become environmental activists. As your City Councilor I would expand this model to create a pilot program that combines skill development and career training in green industries and community engagement, working in an intergenerational way with seniors, assisting them with resources and addressing isolation. As the climate crisis worsens the demand for skilled workers in green industries will increase. I will provide opportunity for youth of Boston to have the training and career development to step into green industries jobs. I will ensure racial and economic equity as our city strives to confront climate change. Everyone should have access to the tools and resources necessary to join in the fight. This includes expanding environmental programs, for example solar panel incentives, so that they are accessible to all residents, homeowners and renters. We also must ensure that all new development is built with Net-Zero or passive house standards while creating incentives to retro-fit existing construction to increase sustainability and eliminate pollution.
2) Litter is a huge problem in Hyde Park, and throughout Boston. What would you do to tackle this issue and to create/promote litter prevention, education, and enforcement policies and practices in District 5?
Maria Esdale Farrell: Creating a common, shared standard is critical, therefore litter reduction and eradication begins with public outreach and education of residents, students , businesses, and visitors to our neighborhoods and business districts. The use of data to identify litter “hotspots” – the location, timing and nature of the trash. This info can also be enormously useful in educating us as to necessary and most effective next steps in particular, advocating for Boston Public Works to assign a full time maintenance team in District 5. Strict enforcement should be a last resort, but where individuals or businesses are unwilling to alter behavior, it becomes a necessary one.
I’d also like to explore the possibilities of piloting a community service program partnering with various organizations such as Work, Inc. as well as creating a Community Service Program for City of Boston employees and students to encourage and model positive citizen behavior.
Cecily Graham: I would promote more community engagement in our schools/after school programs that inform students of the effects of littering and pollution. There are a vast number of students and residents who want to help the community but need more accessible programs to do so. In addition, I would have our business take a pledge to do their part with litter prevention, sign it and put it up in their businesses to encourage their customers to adhere to the existing no littering policy. This would drastically help eliminate littering around local shops. In order to enforce litter prevention I also would request a higher penalty for civil tickets, especially for repeat offenders.
Justin Murad: Hyde Park residents have been noticing a the issue of litter throughout their streets and neighborhoods and have been very vocal about it. My way of tackling this issue as a City Councilor would be to install more trash barrels in heavily populated neighborhoods. I feel that if there are more barrels available, then people would be more willing to throw it in a barrel then on the street. I would also endorse, advocate and supply resources to groups that make it their goal to keep their neighborhood clean because it is their hard work and willingness to make it cleaner is the example we all should follow.
Alkia Powell: To decrease the amount of litter within District 5, I would advocate for increased trash and recycling outposts throughout, and growth of our local recycling programs. As well, I would advocate for a community composting center and community composting education to decrease the amount of trash, while in turn creating a valuable resource for growth. Lastly, I would work with community organizations to increase the availability of information and education on climate change, recycling, and the effects of litter to combat the problem on an individual level.
Mimi Turchinetz: The disparity in overall maintenance across the neighborhoods in District 5 is striking, however the whole district is quite dirty. I would work on behalf of all neighborhoods to reduce litter. As City Councilor, I would ensure that we adequately and equitably fund the cleaning of our streets, parks and open spaces. Volunteer teams are great, but should not be responsible for keeping our neighborhoods clean! Additionally, many of the open spaces and parks are owned and operated by DCR, not the city, therefore we must collaborate fully with the state, both DCR and our elected partners in state government, to address this problem. Additionally, in speaking with residents of Mattapan about how to address public safety, the lack of programmatic opportunities is repeatedly raised, along with a frustration about the lack of movement to address this issue. Let us use this as an opportunity to take concrete steps forward on two issues of concern within our District. My Green Team pilot would provide paid opportunities for young residents year round, while fostering a sense of shared responsibility and pride. This pilot could also be an opportunity to invest in our residents beyond providing summer jobs, by incorporating practical skill training in partnership with local unions and Madison Park Technical High School as well as the creative training program, The People’s Academy.
3) Hyde Park’s public spaces and parks fall under different jurisdictions such as DCR, City of Boston, the MBTA, and the Department of Transportation. It is hard to know who is responsible for different areas, what they do to maintain their properties, and how residents can address issues and abdication of responsibility. What do you think should be done to address these issues? What would you do as a District 5 Councilor?
Maria Esdale Farrell: It’s important that state and quasi-public agencies operating in our communities act as good neighbors. There are several simple strategies that would make it easier for residents to know which agencies have jurisdiction over certain roadways and properties. Improved signage is one. Color-coded online smart maps and listings are another, so that when residents identify a problem or report a complaint, they are automatically informed of the jurisdiction and, so as not to force residents to navigate a labyrinth of government agencies, the complaint should be automatically shared not only with the District Councilor, but the correct state agency as well. As District Councilor, I intend to bring these various city, state and quasi-public agencies together on an ongoing basis to ensure that complaints are taken seriously and given proper attention. I would advocate for a Community Liaison for Public Safety and Maintenance at the state/local level.
Cecily Graham: As a city councilor I would host quarterly community meetings including representatives from each of these institutions to not only clarify who is responsible for what, but to map out a plan on how to prioritize the upkeep of these spaces. This should not be a guessing game.
Alkia Powell: As a Boston City Councillor, I would collaborate with other officials and agencies to push for action regarding Hyde Park’s public spaces. I would be a fierce advocate for my constituents and their concerns, making sure they are heard by those at the top. Additionally, I would work towards creating a streamlined process for citizens to voice their concerns themselves without having to navigate through different jurisdictions. With the collaboration of other agencies, I believe Hyde Park is in a prime position to be the model for Boston’s Greenovate Initiative to show the lead of our neighboring villages.
Mimi Turchinetz: Residents should not need a thorough understanding of municipal jurisdiction law to ensure their neighborhood is well maintained. If you elect me as your City Councilor, I will not abdicate the responsibility for keeping community spaces clean and I will work with our partners in government to develop systems within my office to ensure timely responses to these issues. Out of the candidates in this race I am uniquely qualified to navigate the overlapping jurisdictions to ensure out public spaces and parks are fully maintained. I have experience working across all three branches of government, on both the state and city levels and outside of the formal government structure as a private citizen and leader of a CDC. In every instance I have successfully built the coalitions necessary to create meaningful results. Residents need a single point of contact to report property maintenance problems, and as City Councilor my office could fill that role.
4) What improvements need to happen to make Hyde Park’s business district more attractive, welcoming, and vibrant? How can you be a partner is these improvements?
Maria Esdale Farrell: Hyde Park has struggled for decades to have a common vision, cohesive plan and collaboration amongst all the incredible community organizations that currently exist. We need one common goal and one “team” to provide a pathway be able to support initiatives and host conversations in the community while partnering with our wonderful Mainstreets, Hyde Park Board of Trade, local business owners, landlords, and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association so there is constant communication with local businesses and residents. This is crucial in determining what residents want from their community and in their business districts; what businesses feel would be the most helpful additions to boost business; and alteration to reduce barriers to business. Hyde Park’s major business district in both Cleary and Logan Square, is anchored by incredible cultural institutions - the Riverside Theatre, the Menino branch library and the Menino Arts Center, the YMCA, the potential of the Everett Theater. Hyde Park also has a rich legacy, particularly around Black History, that should be talked about much more, and more closely tied into Hyde Park’s social, cultural, and economic identity (which is a real possibility with one of the William Barton Rogers latest proposals). The potential opportunities here are enormous. I would also advocate for capital investments to either build or repurpose city property to have a central Community Common. As District Councilor, I intend to make this a signature effort – to attract new development and investment to highlight this incredible history and bring more visitors to Hyde Park and its businesses.
Cecily Graham: Our town is rich with cultural diversity. As a result, our businesses reflect that diversity. As we know our city awarded less than 1% of our small business grants ($665 million) to women and minority-owned businesses. I would advocate for more equity in this area to help with signage, maybe exploring ways to make a uniform look for shopfronts and encouraging more engagement with our neighborhood mainstreets. In addition, by pushing for more equity in this area, businesses would be able to hire more employees to help them with upkeep. Last but not least, I would encourage more diversity in business options by advocating to fund our neighborhood theaters and bringing in more destination locations that would attract residents to frequent our stores rather than having to leave the district for that purpose.
Justin Murad: The business areas of Hyde Park are in desperate need of a revitalization. With broken buildings vacant spaces, businesses cannot thrive. As a City Councilor, I would advocate for better upkeep of buildings by offering programs and resources needed to make sure that they are what the business owners dreamed their store would look like. I would also make sure there are plenty trash and recycle barrels through the populated business areas so trash and debris does not build up on store fronts. I would also improve the sidewalks and roadways leading to and in front of stores because that too applies to the curb appeal of a business.
Alkia Powell: Currently, Hyde Park’s business district is seeing a lot of change and growth. As a City Councillor, I would advocate for more “community center” businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops, creating a more welcoming community environment. As well, I would work towards creating more green spaces and floral adornments in the downtown area.
Mimi Turchinetz: You can expect my leadership on economic development to be bold. Currently, there is limited money and capital in our neighborhoods available in our retail districts. I will work to change that. I will create a Financial Opportunity Center in the District to bring access to capital and loan products for sole proprietors and entrepreneurs, job training and access to living wage and union jobs, year round financial coaching, credit building and free tax preparation. Working with key partners I will help build capacity, obtain funding and develop and implement strategies so our communities can thrive. There is no excuse for the inequity that has been the norm with Boston’s city contracts – I will make sure there’s a significant change to how Boston does business by making sure women and minority owned businesses have real access to city contracts.
The preliminary municipal District 5 election is on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 and the municipal election is on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.