JP Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Candidates’ Statements

JP residents may vote on Sept. 12 for up to five at-large candidates and five candidates from the area where the voter lives.


Pamela Bender: I am running for re-election to the Neighborhood Council to ensure that JP remains the affordable, diverse and welcoming community I moved to in 1998. I have chaired the Housing and Development Committee, which formulated an inclusionary zoning policy aimed at producing more truly affordable housing in JP and equitable transit-oriented development principles to ensure that development around Forest Hills and Jackson Square does not displace current residents. Currently, the Housing and Development Committee is working to ensure that new developments in Jamaica Plain adhere to healthy housing principles to help decrease asthma in our community. Please support me for another term.

Francesca Fordiani: I am a social worker, community activist and 15-year JP resident, and have been active with the JPNC since 2003. As chair of the Housing and Development Committee for the last three years, I’m proud of our accomplishments in supporting community process and advocating for affordable housing and equitable transit-oriented development in Jackson Square and Forest Hills. I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve my community, and so I ask for your vote for JP Neighborhood Council on Sept. 12. Thank you.

Ben Knappmiller: I would love the opportunity to work with the citizens of JP to keep our neighborhood vibrant, diverse and family-friendly. My goals include creating a JPNC web site to increase communication with residents, working with the police departments to reduce crime and jurisdictional confusion in the Southwest Corridor Park, and encouraging the presence of the small, locally owned businesses that help make JP such a fantastic place to live. I am a lawyer in Boston and live on Carolina Avenue with my wife Laura and our cat Kelly. To learn more and ask me questions, find me on Facebook.

Daniel Perez Lacera: I desire an opportunity to represent you as councilor at-large on the JPNC. I live and work in JP and am dedicated to its betterment. Professionally, I strive for community development within JP and the nation as national operations manager for a non-profit homeownership advocacy organization. I am completely devoted to maintaining our socio-economic and racial diversity. Let’s improve public safety, increase affordable housing and public transit efficiency. Let’s strengthen the relationship between the council and city government for the advocacy of our community. A vote for me ensures our continued success.

Michael Reiskind is a long-time resident of Jamaica Plain and a hard-working community activist involved in many aspects of neighborhood life. He is presently on the JPNC and its Zoning Committee. He also is chair of its Public Service Committee, where he works on public safety, public works and transportation issues. He is a board member of JP Centre/South Main Streets, the Jamaica Pond Association, the Arborway Committee and the JP Business and Professional Association. In addition, he has been a leader working with the Boston Police Department to implement Neighborhood Policing in Jamaica Plain.

Erin Stringfellow: I am asking for your vote to elect me to the JP Neighborhood Council At-Large. With JP as my home, I have been surrounded by the richness of human experience. “Diversity” only begins to describe it. Yet that richness and diversity also creates challenges, such as increased cost of living. I have focused my energies locally on affordable housing, with the goal of ensuring that JP is the same welcoming community it was for me, for everyone. I am asking for your vote, so that I can further challenge myself, as well as others, to maintain equity, affordability and accessibility in JP.

Area A

Jesse Abair is a Boston attorney who specializes in litigation, environmental and real estate law. He has written and lectured on issues related to environmentally-friendly “green buildings.” He has been an active volunteer and fund-raiser for United Way and Greater Boston Legal Services, which provides free legal services to low-income families in Boston. While in law school, Jesse interned with the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office in New York City and the United States Attorney’s Office in Newark, N.J. and was recognized for his commitment to social justice. Jesse lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife Amy and son Sammy.

Dave Demerjian has lived in Jamaica Plain for over six years, and is proud to call the Hyde Square/Jackson Square neighborhood home. As a freelance journalist he’s written extensively about JP for the Boston Globe—covering the redevelopment of the Blessed Sacrament complex, the opening of the Julia Martin House for senior citizens in Jackson Square, the birth of a neighborhood-wide program to repaint graffiti-tagged mailboxes, and the continued success of a day care training program run by the JPNDC. Dave is also a member of the JP Men’s Group and the Neighbors for Neighbors networking organization.

Area B

Yadelyn Acevedo: I am a 16-year-old youth community organizer of the Hyde Square Task Force, living in Jamaica Plain, and a JPNC candidate. I have lived in Jamaica Plain all my life. I love my community, and I’m always willing to help better my community. Helping people, organizing events for members of JP, and advocating for improvement in the community is what I do, and I really enjoy doing that. I am a very dedicated person when it comes to getting something done. I know the importance of having a safe and clean community and I would do what it takes to keep my community that way.

Steve Backman has been active in the Jamaica Plain community and the city on issues ranging from ensuring quality public education for all to equitable and forward-looking development policies. Steve’s work for 20 years has focused on innovative technology, web and communication strategies for non-profits and community organizations. His wide-ranging experience gives him a unique perspective on challenges facing the council. Steve has been a member of the Neighborhood Council for four years and looks forward to continuing to work on increasing its presence in our community and its partnership with other institutions.

David Baron is a 13-year resident of Jamaica Plain and has served on the JPNC for three years. While on the Council, Dave has been an active member of the Zoning Committee and was recently elected chair. He also led this year the ad hoc committee tasked with updating the JPNC’s election rules and by-laws. During the day, Dave has a solo law practice specializing in real estate and litigation. As a member of the JPNC, his priorities are increasing community participation, advancing the council’s role as liaison to City government and community advocate, and supporting the richness and diversity of JP.

David Branham has lived in JP for the past three years with his wife Elisabeth. His community experience includes teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs in JP and Chelsea. He currently works as a full-time ESOL teacher. Dave is running for the JPNC because he wants to become more involved in the community he loves. He is excited about the opportunity to bring a fresh and energetic perspective to the council while learning from long serving and life-long residents. Together, we can contribute to ensuring JP is a great place to live, for everyone, today and in the future.

Carlos B. Icaza has been active in the JP Community for the 30 years he has lived here. In his efforts to attain local economic development and employment, he is a board member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and serves on the board of the Brewery Development Company (The Brewery complex). He is a member of the Sumner Hill House Trust (the former JP High) ensuring mixed income in his neighborhood, and he is the president of the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association (JPBAPA). He lives on Sumner Hill with his wife and daughter.
Steve Laferriere: I have served on the JPNC Housing and Development Committee for the last three years and have been active in the Forest Hills planning. I’m concerned that a recent lack of participation in the JPNC has made it difficult for the JPNC to represent the community on important issues, such as the Forest Hills redevelopment. Only 332 people voted in 2007, and this June’s election was postponed due to a lack of candidates and polling volunteers. If I am elected to the JPNC, I will work to increase participation in and awareness of the council.

Edith Murnane is a JP resident, a former business owner and a community advocate. She helped organize the first First Thursdays on Centre and south Streets, initiated JP Cooks for a Cause that raised money for businesses that were the victims of arson, and launched last year’s Iron Chef, JP. In her role at Community Servings—a local non-profit—she supports a Farmers Market, a CSA and a CSF initiative. Edith sits on the boards of JP Centre/South Main Streets and the Boston Public Market Association. You might also know Edith from her work at Centre Street Café.?

Florence Slepian: In 1981, I moved to Jamaica Plain when I was employed as director of social work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lived on Moss Hill for 19 years and on Sumner Hill for the past nine years. With my retirement, I acquired a real estate license and have been selling residential real estate primarily in JP since 1995 and am presently affiliated with Coldwell Banker. I was educated at Wellesley College, Brown University and SUNY Albany and have degrees in economics and social work. I have the time and energy to commit to the JPNC and would like to serve the community in this way.
Emily Wheelwright: I have been a JP resident for three years, and hope to be for many more. I have always been engaged in local politics, and have been a regular at Forest Hills planning meetings. I am studying to be a family nurse practitioner at Simmons. I earned a BA in political science from Yale, and then worked in addiction research at Boston Medical Center. I would like to see JP remain a community to which everyone has economic access, and in which everyone’s ideas are welcome. I value open space, local businesses, walkability, bikeability and mixed-use development. Please visit my new web site at

Area C

Karley Ausiello has lived in the Bourne neighborhood of Jamaica Plain for two years. She and her husband chose to settle down in JP and raise a family because of the vibrant community, green space, and diversity. Through her career at United Way, Karley works with non-profits throughout JP and Greater Boston, with a particular focus on youth development and volunteerism. Karley has volunteered at Hyde Square Task Force and is a member of Neighbors for Neighbors. Karley is also a member of JPMoms and is the proud mother of an active 18-month-old girl.

Edward J. (Red) Burrows: I have lived in Jamaica Plain since 1998. I am running for re-election for a seat in Area C that I have held for five years. While on the Zoning Committee, I’ve voted to provide affordable housing for residents of Jamaica Plain while supporting homeowner’s improvements to benefit their lives and not compromising the quality of life of their neighbors. I have had a record of actions for the betterment of this community and hope that you vote for me. I support a Jamaica Plain that can have prosperity, affordability, green space and safety that benefits us all.

Jeremy Harold: Having lived in Jamaica Plain for more than 10 years and as a young professional who intends on making Jamaica Plain my home for years to come, I have watched and have a well-vested interest in seeing our community develop and thrive. I make it a point to attend the various events held in the area, to meet new people and to learn more about the community and the rich diverse culture it offers. With my passion, youth and integrity, I believe I best represent the neighborhood’s interests and will help the community to continue to flourish.

Andrea Howley: We live in a unique environment, and it is our challenge to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. I am a lifelong resident of Jamaica Plain. I possess over 20 years experience as a corporate executive. I have campaigned locally, served as fundraiser, and sat on the board of the Jamaica Hills Association and on the JP Neighborhood Council. My areas of focus include: trying to maintain a reasonable balance between development and open space, and doing as much as I can to ensure JP remains clean, safe and flourishing in our current economic climate. Your vote would allow me to continue to serve my community.

Stephen Lussier, a 10-year resident of Jamaica Plain, is enthusiastic to serve a third term on the Neighborhood Council (JPNC) and the Zoning Committee. With strong dedication and prolific involvement in our community, Stephen has served on the Council for four years. As a JP Realtor, Stephen has a strong commitment to affordable housing, zoning regulations and maintaining a delicate balance of density. Stephen’s passion and purpose is in giving back to the community where we live and work. Thank you for the opportunity to carry on with the important tasks of improving our already unique and thriving community.

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