District 7 preliminary is Sept. 27

September 9, 2011
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The only preliminary City Council election in Jamaica Plain this year will take place in Egleston Square Sept. 27, where incumbent Tito Jackson is facing three challengers—Althea Garrison, Roy Owens and Sheneal Parker.

District 7 mostly covers Roxbury but also includes parts of Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, the Fenway and the South End.

“The best way to campaign is to do your job well,” said Jackson—who was elected five months ago in a special election to replace former city Councilor Chuck Turner.

Jackson told the Gazette that in the short time he has been in office he has “connected 100 folks with jobs” by advocating for small businesses in the district. Locally, one of those businesses was Millennium Restaurant and Grill at 3094 Washington St., which Jackson said he advocated for when the restaurant had problems with its food license earlier this year.

He said he is a co-sponsor of legislation to requiring the licensure of businesses that sell knives. There have been over 13,000 stabbings in Boston in the last three years, he said.

Jackson also noted that he has hosted office hours in Egleston and hosts a weekly call-in radio show, called “The Councilor’s Corner” on Monday mornings from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Touch 106.1 FM.

“I am eager to get out and serve for another two years,” Jackson said, “I am having fun. This district is great. It is full of promise and opportunities. There is still work to do on issues of violence, unemployment, and providing educational opportunities, but we are heading in the right direction.”

Parker, a Fenway resident and single mother, is a Boston Public School teacher and small business owner who has served on a host of community boards, including as president of the Fenway Community Development Corporation’s board of directors.

“I have a proven record of bringing people together and achieving real results,” she said.

If elected, she said she would be especially aware about serving peripheral parts of the district, including Egleston Square, because her home neighborhood is also border. “No matter where you live in the district, we all have the same issues,” she said.

Parker coaches her son in football and teaches entrepreneurship classes for youths at district community centers and with Action For Boston Community Development. She said she is passionate about providing both opportunities for youth and economic development resources for people in the district.

“Public safety is one of my missions,” she said. Her 15-year-old son’s father was “murdered on the street when my son was two” in a shooting, she said.

She also said she feels there should be more women in Boston politics. City Councilor Maureen Feeney is not seeking reelection this year, so the only female incumbent running is Ayanna Pressley.

Parker, who holds two master’s degrees—in public policy administration and criminal justice—said she is one of 25 fellows at UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy. In the course of her election campaign she is also doing research for a report on civic engagement among women of color, she said.

Garrison has run for city and state elected office many times—including in the recent special election where Jackson was elected—and served one term as state rep. for the 5th Suffolk district, which includes Dorchester and Roxbury.

“I have more experience than all of the other candidates put together. I spent two years as a state representative. I know how to write legislation,” Garrison told the Gazette.

If elected, she said, her main focus would be on curbing violence in the district. “When you read the papers…don’t you think it is time to do something about it?” she said. Garrison declined to discuss specifics about what she would do, but criticized Jackson for being too much of an insider.

“Tito Jackson goes along to get along,” she said. “He is just like all of the other candidates who are in there.”

Roy Owens, another regular city council candidate, did not respond to Gazette calls requesting comment for this article. Owens, a Roxbury resident, was also a contender in the last District 7 race. He told the Gazette at the time that he opposes abortion and gay marriage. Owens said that he thinks those factors, along with HIV/AIDS, are causing a decline in African-American voting clout in the city.

For more information about Jackson, see titojacksonforboston.com; shenealparker.com; and royowensboston.mysite.com. Garrison does not have a website for the current campaign.

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