Monday night's West Roxbury candidates night held at St. George's Church hall was packed with residents to hear their next mayor and city councilors.
Co-hosted by the Bellevue Hill Improvement Association and West Roxbury Civic & Improvement Association, candidates were given five minutes to speak about why they wanted to be elected. Several candidates showed up to speak to the audience who were not on the confirmed list of candidates, including Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy, who via an oversight wasn't invited at first, but was allowed to speak first.
Murphy focused on how Mayor Thomas Menino and the city council has "held Boston harmless" during recent economic downturns. He called himself a "financial leader" so taxpayers weren't paying "through the nose" and getting services they deserve. He touted his leading a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) committee to get nonprofits to contribute more than $30 million during a six-year period. West Roxbury-speaking, he said he worked to rewrite blasting regulations to help those affected by the Crushed Stone Quarry in West Roxbury.At-Large Boston City Council candidate Ramon Soto, a well-liked choice within City Hall, said he wanted to prevent crime, like how he had just gotten his wallet stolen during dinner before the event.
Mayoral candidate Charles Clemons, a former Boston Police officer in Roxbury, West Roxbury and Jamaica plain, said he's led five different businesses. He added those businesses have employed thousands of Boston residents, including 75% with CORIs (criminal records), adding, "because I believe in giving people a chance."
One of the favorites of the mayoral race, John Connolly, was speaking to a hometown crowd, and said he'd like to focus on a middle income market housing strategy, and deliver better city services, "I’ve got a crazy idea that city hall can function like an Apple Store." He added he was the only person who fought against the teachers contract and drafted a plan to guarantee schools closer to home (which was not adopted).
Fellow mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie was scheduled to appear, but her father passed away recently, she she was unable to attend due to being in New York. A statement was read on her behalf.
Another heavy mayoral favorite, state Rep. Marty Walsh, D-Dorchester, spoke about after working in the construction industry, and getting involved with civic associations before being elected. He said there's not enough middle income housing, and that he'd like to bring back vocational tech schools to have more pathways to careers for students.
At-Large City Council candidate Annissa Essaibi George said she feels like her voice is missing from Boston City Hall. "That’s a voice of a mother. I have four children (with a set of triplets)..." She also teaches at East Boston High School, and wants to work to promote Boston high schools. She also owns the Stitch House, a small business in Dorchester, and feels that every business district should have a main streets district.
At-Large Boston City Council candidate Francisco White, 26, said he wants an elected Boston School Committee. Currently, the committee is chosen by the mayor, and no other candidate spoke in support of an elected school committee.
West Roxbury's current city councilor, Matt O'Malley, was greeted with enthusiasm and spoke about supporting Connolly's Quality School Choice plan. He spoke of his accomplishments of getting funding for the new Beethoven School playground, leading the city's way of using paperless pay stubs, creating prescription drug drop-offs for residents, and water-refilling stations coming to Billings Field in West Roxbury and Jamaica Pond next year.
At-Large candidate Keith Kenyon started with a joke about how he was happy there was a podium because of nightmares about having his fly open. He said he was a real estate attorney and did not have any political experience, "Think of me as your neighbor." He said he disagrees with the notion that the city council doesn't have power in Boston's government, and that the city charter should be changed to bring change to the people. He also added that housing funding options for residents are under-communicated and underfunded, and that he'd like to use Kickstarter to create college funds for kids so neighbors could contribute to kids' funds, too.
Suffolk County District Attorney and West Roxbury resident Dan Conley said he'd like to raise the school charter cap or eliminate it altogether. He said he'd like to see longer school days, too.
Current At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley talked about her community work of helping women and girls, and leading the way for Boston to have a complete sex and health education curriculum. She also fought to help school health centers remain open, and has gone after predatory universities who go after veterans, single parents, and those receiving federal benefits. She also said she is working to lift the cap on alcohol licenses so more neighborhoods could have restaurants that serve alcohol to create vital main streets, not Bourbon Street.
O'Malley's opponent in November (only two candidates means no preliminary for District 6), Luis Valerio said he wants more classrooms, to higher more teachers, to have fewer kids per classroom. "Of course we’re going to need a lot of money. The city has spent a lot of money on transportation moving kids from one neighborhood to a school so far form their home. It’s inefficient. We’re spending $86-million to move around our kids."
District 5 City Councilor Rob Consalvo said he's "All in for Boston" saying he doesn't have another job. He focused on his public safety initiatives like new technology like ShotSpotter, and said he'd like to add 200 new cops out on the street in her first term as mayor.