JP Progressives and NAACP Boston hosted a candidate forum for the District 6 City Council candidates on April 28. So far, candidates include Kendra Hickslk, Kelly Ransom, and Mary Tamor.
The candidates were asked a series of questions by moderators Wynndell Bishop of NAACP Boston, JP youth activist Melissa Beltran, and Ed Burley of the JP Progressives, ranging from housing to education to public safety.
Candidates were asked what policies they would propose “to ensure affordability and high quality rental and home ownerships” for families, first generation college graduates, and young professionals.
Mary Tamor said that “we have to do what we can to make lending more available,” and to “utilize beautiful old public buildings.” She said that she has attended more Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) meetings recently, and “I think we can do far more in terms of making these options available and teaching folks what is the path to home ownership as well.”
Kendra Hicks said that Boston “need[s] a housing plan that’s going to be based on our residents’ actual needs.” She also spoke about the importance of building environmentally friendly housing that is “inclusive for families and young professionals,” as well as changing the zoning to lessen barriers to land use.
Kelly Ransom, who works for the Madison Park Development Corporation, said that Madison Park has “a program that the city could easily model,” that includes a $50,000 down payment for people in the program looking to own a home. She said the program has been successful and will be expanded.
She also said that having a 100 percent affordable zoning overlay district would also increase the amount of affordable housing in the city.
The candidates were also asked about small business relief as the city continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to start being honest about the fact that small business owners and restaurants are in need of a bail out,” Hicks said. She said making the processes easier for folks, especially for those whose first language isn’t English, would be helpful.
Tamor said it’s “heartbreaking to see how many businesses have closed.” She said her family members “are small business people,” and said that more grants are necessary to help out struggling businesses. Additionally, she said that it’s important to “make sure that Main Streets is helping everyone in the way that they should.”
Ransom said that as a former restaurant industry employee, she said that offering “one on one technical and financial assistance” for both existing businesses and ones that are trying to get off the ground.
When asked how they will “legislate for the entire district,” Hicks said that “while some of our challenges may differ, we’re all grounded in similar issues.” She said that by having many voices at the table, the city is “more likely to find solutions.”
Ransom said that “I recognize that the platform of a Boston City Councilor” is “incredibly powerful,” as the spotlight is often turned on them. “I don’t want that…on me; I want it to be on the people of this district,” she said.
“I think that bringing people together is truly one of the most important parts of this job,” Tamor said, and “listening to all the voices of those who surround us.” She said that she has visited more than 85 Boston Public Schools and has gotten a “sense of what’s happening in communities.”
When it comes to public safety and the police budget, candidates were asked how public safety should be reflected in the police budget and responsibilities.
Tamor said that there is an “opportunity to reimagine; reinvent policing as we know it. We really need to have some really robust conversations about what needs to happen…who goes on what calls.”
Hicks said that it comes down to “what, and specifically who, we’re investing in,” and looking at the police budget from a fiscal responsibility standpoint.
Ransom brought up what she called the “Three O’s: overworked, overtired, and overtime.” She said that with the large amount of construction happening in the district and across the city, there are “police details working overtime when they could be doing other things. These could be reallocated to [the Inspectional Services Department.” She added that “I do not think we should be making traffic stops on minor infractions.”
During the lightning round, when candidates were asked if they support the reallocation of BPD funds for investment in the community, both Hicks and Ransom said yes, and Tamor said no. When asked if they support a “hard cap on Boston Police Department overtime, Tamor said no, and Hicks and Ransom said yes.
As part of the lightning round, candidates answered other yes or no questions on topics like police issues, safe injection sites, and education.
The full video with each candidates’ answers to all questions can be found on the JP Progressives Facebook page.