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The Boston Mayoral Forum Series kicks off

The second Boston Mayoral Forum was held at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Sept. 19. The event was hosted by UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, WBUR, and the Boston Foundation and was held at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.


Chancellor J. Keith Motley began by opening the debate with an introduction and a speech.  

The forum focused on addressing disparities of education, income, and opportunity among Boston residents. The forum also addressed the mitigation of the Everett casino and the lack of racial diversity in the police force.

Boston mayoral candidates at the time of the debate included City Councilor Felix Arroyo, former Boston School Committee member John Barros, former Boston Police officer Charles Clemons, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, City Councilor John Connolly, former State Representative Charlotte Golar Richie, City Councilor Michael Ross, State Representative Martin Walsh, community organizer Bill Walczak, and City Councilor Charles Yancey. David James Wyatt, former candidate for City Council in 2007, was not in attendance.

Candidates shared their thoughts on and ideas for fixing the education system.

Walczak stated, “It’s important for schools to act more holistically. Most Bostonians live in poverty because of this, and as a result, schools need to be more efficient. We need to make sure that schools look at things from a different perspective such as making sure food and housing are secured first.”

Connolly added, “Students need emotional support, healthy choices, and food pantries to learn in a school environment. So many children go to school broken and are not ready to learn.”

Richie’s proposed solution was to “create partnerships with private nonprofit organization sectors in the city to improve students’ education.” She added, “Not only that, but we have to help families avoid foreclosure, hunt for jobs, and learn English as second language. We need to do better at coordinating things.”

Arroyo brought up funding for gym and arts classes. “We need the creativity from the arts and theatres, and gym for physical activities,” he said.

Barros, Walsh, Ross, and Clemons also agree with reforming the education system to fit students’ needs. 

Income and rising market costs for housing were also discussed.

Yancey stated, “We require one-third of housing to be for low-income residents so they are not displaced from housing in general because of the increasing costs.

“I would like to increase that number. I talked to a lot of young professionals enriching our economy. Half of them do not live in the city and we can’t afford to lose their talents. We need to bring transit and affordable housing because it is too expensive for almost everyone,” Conley said.

Richie, Walczak, Arroyo, and Walsh share similar views on the issue of affordable housing.

Increasing the diversity in Boston’s police force was mentioned, with many emphasizing that only a small percentage of officers are people of color.

“We don’t have a single person of color, except for the captain. We need to put people of color in leadership positions. We all have to have the same commitment to sharing and spreading around diversity,” stated Ross.

Clemons remarked, “There are 54 percent of colored people in this population, yet we have a low amount of colored officers in the police force. We even removed our current police commissioner of color. One of the reason I left my police position was to make it my independence day to change this. It’s not fair that we have just white captains in charge of these districts.”

Arroyo, Walczak, Conley, Barros, and Richie concur that the police force should reflect the people of Boston and reform to encourage people of color on the force.

Nolan O’Brien, the student trustee from UMass Boston, attended the event and stated, “It is quite clear that the most serious issue facing the next mayor of Boston is education reform. Most if not all of the candidates call for extensive reinvestment in or re-evaluation of Boston Public Schools and how education reform will affect job growth, public transit, and housing. From what I’ve seen, education is the real linchpin in this election.”

The two mayoral finalists elected on Sept. 24, Walsh and Connolly, will meet on Nov. 5, 2013 for the election. They will also meet again at UMass Boston for the next Mayoral Forum on Oct. 9. 

Article source: http://www.umassmedia.com/news/the-boston-mayoral-forum-series-kicks-off/article_acc89dd4-2653-11e3-bce8-001a4bcf6878.html

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