Contrary to claims made by her opponent, state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson has had a very strong presence in the development of the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative (FHII). For nearly two years, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has convened forums with hundreds of members of Jamaica Plain in an effort to “build consensus” (“Forest Hills process does not end,” Jamaica Plain Gazette, July 11). I have seen how Sen. Wilkerson has paid attention and listened, knowing that consensus was key to make sure the FHII was a step in the right direction. During that entire period, she has seen to it that a member of her staff was in attendance on her behalf at many of the meetings that she was unable to attend and reported back to her personally.
To make sure the community members attending the forums knew she was listening and what her feelings were concerning the issues, she contacted the people through a letter, expressing both optimism and realism over the goal that 50 percent of the development be exclusively affordable housing. Sen. Wilkerson has consistently focused her efforts to ensure the residents of JP have had fair access to the safe and secure housing, even as rental and housing costs continue to rise and she continues to advocate for the BRA to advance consistent, cross-neighborhood goals of affordable housing.
Also in JP, Sen. Wilkerson secured $5.659 million for the Kelly Rink and $1.2 million for forest regeneration in the environmental bond bill that passed the Senate at the end of this year’s legislative session (JP Gazette, Aug. 15).
I encourage anyone who is interested in learning what else Sen. Wilkerson has delivered for the district to visit her web site, www.DianneDelivers08.com. The web site also has a clip of her speech from the Senate floor last week where she secured passage of the bill to repeal the 1913 law that prohibited out of state couples from coming to Massachusetts to marry (JP Gazette, July 25).
It’s unfair to question Sen. Wilkerson’s dedication to and concern for the people of Jamaica Plain. She is an incredibly active senator and, in order to get a grasp on the needs and concerns of the community, she sometimes needs to rely on her staff to attend meetings in her stead. Having staff attend these events is the only way to make sure that what she does in her role as senator is always what she believes is best for her constituents based on community input. I have full confidence that Sen. Wilkerson has made sure that she is engaged and well informed about Forest Hills, and the myriad other important issues that face JP.
Joshua L. Dawson
The writer is the Democratic State Committeeman, 2nd Suffolk Senate District, which includes JP.