It has been a little over a month since City Councilor Michelle Wu announced her candidacy for mayor, and she has ben out and about in the neighborhoods campaigning on various issues.
As a Roslindale resident, Wu has a unique perspective on the neighborhood, and the Gazette spoke with her to learn more about certain issues in Rozzie and beyond.
“It’s been incredible energy around the city,” she said of her campaign efforts so far. “I’ve spent time in every neighborhood of the city really talking about the urgent changes that we need and can do together with bold leadership for Boston.”
She said that right now, the focus remains on the November election, but the national issues are “very much connected” to those right in the city, she said.
Wu said she has done several campaign events in Roslindale, including some greeting of shoppers at the farmers market, including passing out flyers and talking to families.
She also held a socially distant backyard party on South Street, and said that it was “still really nice to be able to see people face to face.”
Wu is “always out and about in the neighborhood” with her two young sons, and said that “it’s always fun to be able to connect the chance to advocate for my neighborhood with needs we see all across the city.”
Roslindale, like many other neighborhoods in the city, is “a community that is struggling with affordability,” Wu said. “We have seen the housing crisis go up and up and up.” She said that she and her family were able to buy a home in the neighborhood just a few months before prices skyrocketed and would have been unaffordable for them to purchase a home in the same area.
“I see a lot of climate advocacy coming out of our neighborhood as well,” she said, from organizations like GreeningRozzie to Boston Climate Action Network, there“are really strong ties to climate justice in this community.” She said that there are also many young families who are interested in a quality education for their children and have a stake in the Boston Public Schools (BPS).
Wu also said that it is “tough right now for our local small businesses” in Roslindale and beyond. She said she has spent some time talking to owners of restaurants and other food businesses, as well as grocery stores and food trucks. She said that workers in this industry, especially those who are undocumented or are ineligible for state or federal aid, have been hit very hard by the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Wu released a food justice agenda for Boston that she said “shows how food justice could lead the way,” and offers five different areas with specific policies in each.
She said that there is a “need to direct resources to lifting up small, locally owned businesses.”
Also on Tuesday, Boston Public Schools announced that all students will learn remotely until the city’s positive test rate goes below four percent again.
“It is extremely difficult for Boston to be in this position, especially for families who are juggling so much right now,” Wu said. “I am watching the COVID rates go up across the state and city, [and] realizing that my five year old likely won’t go back to in-person learning” this year, she said. “It’s a huge stressor on my family and so many other families.”
She also said that the burden of this is “falling disproportionately on Black and Brown residents,” and that she has long advocated for a reopening process for schools that involves “resources and priority from outside the school department as well.”
She added that “unless we are driving down the COVID infection rates, there’s no way we can have safe in-person learning.” She said that the rates have been trending upwards, which means that in-person learning is not safe.
She said that while she understands why in-person learning was halted, “that shouldn’t be the reactive end to the conversation. The city should be working to do all we can to drive down infection rates.”
As for Halloween, she said it’s been tough as a parent to try and explain to her three and five year old sons that Halloween is “going to be very different” this year. She said a family member makes simple homemade costumes for the boys each year, and they had picked out this year’s costumes a while back: a cat and a car. She said that as young kids, they “kind of go with the flow,” but it’s still difficult for kids to have to make changes to things they have looked forward to.
“Everyone has to take personal responsibility and realize that we are dependent…” on the actions and health of those around us. She said that “the government needs to take action,” as it’s been “months now, and we still don’t have reliable, free testing everywhere in the City of Boston,” nor is there adequate access to PPE for many childcare providers, she said.
“We haven’t been creating enough safe spaces for people who need to quarantine but may not have stable housing to do so safely,” she said. She also said that there is more work to be done on fixing ventilation in BPS school buildings so kids can learn safely in-person when the public health numbers allow them to do so again.
“I agree we need to be mindful and encourage everyone to be responsible in how we’re spending our social time,” Wu said, adding that she recognizes the difficulty in not being able to spend time with friends and family in the way we are used to, “but the burden shouldn’t be just calling out these parties, it should be taking specific action so people can safely interact with each other again.”
Wu and her campaign team will be making some stops at early voting locations in the coming weeks, as the November election is at the top of the list in terms of focus right now. Wu also said that she and the team are “looking to do lots of organizing events, especially after the November election.” She said that since the weather is getting colder, more and more events will be virtual.
For more information about events and Councilor Wu’’s campaign platform, visit michelleforboston.com.