Sunday, May 13, 2007

Interview With Council Candidate Rosie Hanlon

Rosie Hanlon is well-known in Allston-Brighton as the Executive Director of Brighton Main Streets, although she is also involved in many other community activities. I caught up with her the day after she formally picked up papers at City Hall to initiate her candidacy.

"I'm a city girl," says the lifelong resident of Brighton. "I love the convenience of my area. I love going down to the river and up to the reservoir."

She has run unsuccessfully twice before for the Allston-Brighton seat on the Boston City Council. The first was against City Councilor Brian Honan in 1997. "I was really concerned with the apathy" in the district, she said. "If we don't vote, then we don't get the city services that we need. My mission was to get people to vote." Following Honan's death, she was among nine candidates for the seat in 2002 during her second run.

She considers there to be three major issues currently confronting Allston-Brighton: institutional expansion, public schools, and substance abuse.

Rosie has been a member of the Boston College Task Force for many years, and remembers the process they went through over the last master plan. "We were adamant" that BC would have to put more undergraduate students on campus, she said. "By the time the master plan was developed to completion, we got it up to 800-plus beds."

Regarding today's institutional expansion plans of Harvard and BC, she notes: "Development is going to happen, but it has to happen in a reasonable way that doesn't impact the peace and quiet of our communities."

But she also cautions against blaming institutional expansion for the high rates at which families are moving out of A-B. "We lose families because of the school system. I think our school system is getting better, but we still have a 40% dropout rate." She also notes that too many families pull their children out of the public schools after kindergarten. "We really have to make sure that our public schools are community public schools."

She is passionate that the community needs to better recognize the problem of substance abuse among the neighborhood youth. "You can right now buy a bag of heroin for less than the price of a happy meal." Drug transactions, she says, are widespread in "the parks, the parking lots, [and] the convenience stores" in A-B. Part of the solution is "to prepare the parents, and let them know they have the support they need."

Looking toward the future, Rosie has a vision for the neighborhood. "Brighton has always been like the peninsula to the City of Boston. I have been working towards Brighton being known as a 'destination'... a place that people will want to be."

1 comment:

Mary Charles said...

Rosie Hanlon is one of a kind. Regardless of the past, she will make it this time.

She is gold driven, wise, and respectful. Rosie has a great *spunk* about her and can get anything done, no matter the time frame or task.

Way to go Rosie. City Council here she comes!!