West Roxbury resident Winnie Eke has joined Mary Tamer and Kendra Hicks in the race for District 6 City Council. Kelly Ransom announced her withdrawal from the race in late June.
Eke came to the United States from Nigeria, and first lived in Texas before moving to Boston in the mid 1980s.
Eke said what she loves most about District 6 is that “it’s a very good area to raise children,” and “it is quiet; it is safe.” She said she appreciates the caring nature of her neighbors, who were always around to help take care of her seven daughters.
She said she wants to run for City Council because as a former Boston Public Schools teacher, “I had students who didn’t have homes, who came to school not fed, with nothing for lunch.”
She added that in her personal experience, complaints about things like roads and streets have not been addressed, so she would like to be on the City Council to ensure those types of concerns are addressed.
“Inequality is really what bothers me so much,” she said. “I used to live in Mission Hill; at one point I lived in Roxbury. When I go over there, I don’t see the same caring for the neighborhood. That really, really bothers me.”
Eke also has a scientific background, and has worked in a laboratory setting. She said she believes this experience, along with her teaching experience, has positioned her for success as a city councilor.
She said that she has an understanding of both the health and the educational systems, and it “hurts my soul to see…students who are not ready” to advance to the next grade and who need a little extra help. She said advocating for her students as well as her scientific work has helped her to see “the need” in the city.
“Those have prepared me to be able to advocate and also promote policies that can help the whole system and the city move forward in terms of helping everyone,” Eke said.
When it comes to affordable housing in the district, Eke said it is “an issue.” She said she believes the wants and needs of residents should be taken into serious consideration. “We shouldn’t have a city where the government imposes its will on the people,” she said. “I am sure that everybody, including myself, want affordable housing,” but she said that it needs to be done in a way that reflects the desires of the community it’s being built in.
On the subject of helping small business owners in the wake of the pandemic, particularly those who are women or people of color, Eke said “we need an advocacy office in the City of Boston in every district.” She said that funding and staff should be available specifically to assist small businesses who need help to “reestablish themselves” or to expand.
Eke said she believes the top issues in the district are education, environmental issues, and affordable housing.
She said people in West Roxbury and the district as a whole “love to walk around; love the parks. I think we need to make sure we take care of our parks.”
Eke also talked about her plan for transportation, saying that she doesn’t believe completely free transportation is the way to go.
“That is equality, but it’s not equity,” she said, adding that she doesn’t believe someone who makes $90,000 a year should have free transportation when there are maintenance issues to take care of.
“How do we pay to repair the system?” she asked. “As much as I would like to agree that we all have free transportation,” she said, “we have to be realistic.”
She suggested that people would obtain transportation vouchers according to their income level.
So far, Eke has been working to build out her campaign and trying to meet with the community “so people know who I am,” she said. She said people have also been helping her with her campaign, as she started late. She also said she is trying to attend community events, and spoke at the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association meeting last week. She said she has been learning more and more about the many different issues and perspectives in the district.
“When people see me, they’re kind of surprised that I’m the person running,” she said, adding that “West Roxbury is primarily a white area…when they see me, they’re not used to seeing a Black woman running in West Roxbury in District 6. I get to introduce myself. People are welcoming, but…I hope I’m not going to be the only minority person running in West Roxbury.”
For more information about Winnie Eke and her campaign, visit winnieekeforcouncil.com.