The state Democratic Convention is around the corner on June 14, where the five Democratic candidates for governor will fight to garner the 15 percent of delegate votes needed for a spot on the primary ballot.
The Gazette recently checked in with the five candidates—Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and Juliette Kayyem—to ask them two Jamaica Plain-specific questions. The questions cover the Casey Arborway project, the Arborway Yard bus facility, and gentrification in JP.
Berwick, Grossman and Kayyem responded by the Gazette deadline. Below are the questions and the candidates’ answers that were delivered via email through their spokespeople. The answers have been edited.
Question: Two state projects–the Arborway Yard bus facility proposal and the Casey Overpass replacement–have been controversial in Jamaica Plain. As governor, what type of leadership would you provide on those projects? How involved would you get and why?
Berwick: It is past time for a permanent bus yard facility. Whether the final location is the American Legion Highway or the Arborway—a decision best made by the community, not Beacon Hill—it is time to finally get the project off the ground.
The Casey Overpass is an important component of Jamaica Plan’s transportation system, connecting the neighborhood to Dorchester and Roxbury, and I would prefer to see it replaced or repaired, if possible. However, if the state Department of Transportation plan is to go forward, it is absolutely critical that it is done expeditiously, without time or cost overruns.
Grossman: A permanent facility at Arborway Yard is long overdue. As governor, I’ll seek to facilitate collaboration between the MBTA and JP leaders in order to encourage public input and allow for common-sense reform of the project without creating a burdensome delay.
The Casey Overpass project highlights the urgent need to repair the hundreds of structurally deficient bridges across the state. I look forward to working closely with local officials as we continue to successfully implement the Accelerated Bridge Repair Program.
Kayyem: As the only candidate with state and federal government experience, I have a unique understanding of how decisions made at those levels affect a community. While coordinating the response to the BP oil spill, I worked with five states and 60 federal agencies. I saw how critical it was to keep the flow of information with local governments open. I would take the same approach to projects in JP, like the Casey Overpass and the Arborway Yard. There are many ways to solve the problems we face, but we will achieve better outcomes when we have input on the decision making process from all levels.
Question: Gentrification continues to be an issue in Jamaica Plain. On a state level, how would you address it?
Berwick: Gentrification is a serious problem in many Boston neighborhoods including JP, making it more and more difficult for lower-income residents to live in the city. It is time to invest in affordable housing—not just in JP, but across the Commonwealth. I also support rent control as a means of keeping housing affordable for our low-income neighbors.
Grossman: Economic growth that leaves no one behind must include investments in affordable and middle-income housing, transit-oriented development, and workforce training to close the skills gap and fill middle-class jobs. As we transform communities across the Commonwealth, we must also continue to celebrate the fabric, culture, and diversity of all neighborhoods, including JP.
Kayyem: While new housing and businesses can change the economic outlook of a community for the better, it is important that we be mindful of how new development affects existing residents of JP. I understand how important it is that decisions affecting municipalities are made with input from those who are most affected, and as governor I would see that those voices are included in the conversation.