Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Highlights From the A-B District City Council Candidates Forum

The first Allston-Brighton District City Council candidates forum happened Monday night at the Oak Square YMCA. It was sponsored by the Allston Village Main Streets, Allston Board of Trade, and Brighton Board of Trade. The moderator was State Senator Steve Tolman. The questions were written by members of those organizations and attendees to the event; the questions were sifted through by organization members (to eliminate bad questions and duplicates), and then drawn at random. More than half the time was devoted to opening and closing statements by the candidates.

Here are some highlights of the event:

Rosie Hanlon:
People around here say, and I'd say many of you in this room can say, yes, that if you need something, go to Rosie, she can do it.

I worked to get the students back on the campus where they belong, freeing up housing stock in our community so that we can have room for families to come back to Allston-Brighton.

I will bring to our community a very maternal, yet pit bull-ish approach, to getting things done. And my kids can attest to that... I will bring a view from a broad.
James Jenner:
Apathy is probably one of the biggest problems we have in voting in our time, and to see so many of you here puts a warm feeling in my heart.

I am concerned right now because we are being attacked... from both sides... by college expansions... by over-development by an out-of-control BRA, by developers who are more interested in making a buck than the quality of life in this community.

We are slowly becoming another UMass-Amherst, where all that is up there is UMass. And that town is gone, there are really no families up there any more. I refuse to let that happen to this community.

Comm. Ave. is a mess, and that is the flat and simple truth. Beacon Street is gorgeous... The reason Comm. Ave. doesn't get taken care of is because nobody really cares. That's the bottom line... City Councilors... have the bully pulpit.

I am a little dismayed and a little upset with [Councilor McDermott] recently, especially today, when I read that we will be without a City Councilor for four months because he is stepping down early, which for me is unacceptable.
Alex Selvig:
I mean no disrespect by not wearing the politician's uniform of a suit and tie is simply that is not who I am... The real Alex Selvig is right in front of you.

What about a City Councilor... [who] wants to make Boston the greenest city in North America? What about a City Councilor who would work for record levels of citizen participation in government? How about one who would enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to our city, our parks, and waterways? A City Councilor who would promote city-wide internet access, free of charge, starting with the more disadvantaged communities and housing projects?

The Mayor made an argument in front of the State Legislature... that Boston should have more State aid because it shoulders more of the burden for these universities that generate a lot of money for the entire region. The same argument can be made for Allston-Brighton. We are paying more of the price and receiving fewer of the benefits [from] this university.
Mark Ciommo:
I don't support the collective bargaining act [being debated by the City Council]. It does nothing to create affordable housing.

[Harvard] should make [the vacant commercial properties] available for local entrepeneurs and small businesses until they plan to do something with them.

I would encourage Harvard to fix up their [North Allston and North Brighton] properties, make the vacant store fronts available to local entrepeneurs to create jobs, and revitalize those areas, and take care of their properties better...

As I started campaigning almost two months ago, many of the doors I knocked, people said, "Mark, why do you want to be a City Councilor?" It's an easy question for me to answer. Four generations of my family have lived, worked, raised a family, and retired in this community.

This community made a difference in my life, and I will use my passion and love for this community to get up every single day and fight to make a difference for the lives of all of our citizens.
Tim Schofield:
I am running for City Council because we are facing serious challenges... I understand the importance of reducing crime, of improving our public schools, and of controlling institutional expansion... You cannot maintain a stable community without good public schools.

I know when to stand up and object... to bang your fist on the table. I also know, however, how to sit down and mediate. There are times to sit down and mediate. I know the difference.

An important job of the City Councilor is to bring the community together... [by having] the City Councilor facilitate meetings and communications between different parts of the community.

The first thing we have to do is to enforce the zoning that we have. We see it time and time again that a developer would... think that the zoning code were a mere suggestion.

As part of an institutional master plan or as part of any development, there has to be a certain portion of land required to be set aside under a conservation easement... Let's get it in writing.

We have wonderful new families moving into this community: Brazilians, Chinese, Russians. We have to welcome them and integrate them into our community. They are laying roots in our community, they are raising families in our community, they are the future... and an important part of our future.
Greg Glennon:
We need someone whose going to go down to Boston City Hall and be a voice, not an echo.

[I promise that, if elected,] every phone call will get returned, every letter.

Always having a publicly-listed phone number that anyone can call whenever they want to pick up the phone to call me.

Hold [the institution's] feet to the fire, [by] making sure that this neighborhood is not getting played by people who look at Allston-Brighton as a blank canvas.

[City Hall,] in some respects, is an eyesore, but it serves a purpose that is very important. It is accessible to the residents of the City of Boston. I would look for a long term goal to do everything we can to utilize City Hall Plaza -- which is a vast swath of downtown geography -- to get something up that reflects better on our city.

Somebody asked me, Who's got the most yard signs up in this campaign? And I said, as I'm walking around, the most yard signs that I'm seeing are yard signs of local realtors. People are leaving the City.

The Candidates:

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