Q: I’ll start with the obvious question: Why are you running for Boston City Council?
It’s pretty simple. I ran for this same seat in 2005 and the reason I chose to run then was because I was frustrated by the fact that many of the people that were living in the city of Boston . families, working middle class . were leaving the city because of the high cost of living here in terms of housing, whether they were renters or owners, and the continued rise in crime and the need for continued improvement in our public schools.
I’m running again because, if anything those issues have only worsened. When I ran in 2005 the city of Boston was in the top ten most expensive cities to live in, now it’s in the top five. I don’t need to tell you what’s happened with our murder rate. So, I think we need different solutions, different approaches, better ways to understand the problems and that is something I would like to bring to the table in terms of my background.
Q: Well, let’s talk about some of your ideas for some of those solutions. What do you think the city can do to lower the murder rate?
I think first and foremost one of the things we have is our unsolved murder rate is one of the worst in the country. Whether it’s bringing in better technology, more police on the street, we need to resolve some of those unsolved murders because many times they’re repeat offenders. So that would be one thing. We definitely need to ensure that monies that were committed by the Mayor — when Commissioner Davis came on board he promised them additional funding — make sure again that money was spent wisely, bring back more community policing, programs that are targeting our most at-risk youth, a lot of those programs have been cut drastically. We’re seeing the consequences of that and so I think we need to focus on bringing back some more funding to these programs so they can have a more positive impact. Also, hiring more police.
So those are some of the things I would ensure that not only the money was spent wisely and effectively, but that it was continually budgeted year after year so that we saw improvement. Just because you throw whatever the number is, five or twenty or thirty million incremental dollars into our public safety budget doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s going to be the fix-all. So, we need to make sure that the methods we’re deploying in terms of trying to bring murder rates down, aggravated assault rates down, that we continue to build on that, and I think that’s really key.
Q: Now, in terms of funding, I read a Brian McGrory Column last week where Councilor Sam Yoon introduced the idea of a half-percent sales tax in Boston that would be earmarked specifically for public safety. Is that something you’d be interested in supporting?
It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. I don’t have the article in front of me, but if I’m not mistaken they were talking about generating maybe $30 million a year in doing so? That’s not an insignificant amount of money, but how is that going to be divided? It’s one thing to say you’re going to give it to public safety, but does that mean it’s going to go directly to police? Is it going to go some to fire? Is it going to go to programs I was talking about like some of these youth programs that are very instrumental in bringing down a lot of the youth violence that we’ve seen in recent years? So, I don’t know how it’s going to get allocated, that’s going to be one thing.
I think we need to look at a bigger picture solution in terms of generating incremental in order to make a huge difference because we’re talking about $30 million on a $2 billion budget. I think you need to be looking in the hundreds of millions, especially when you think about all the other areas in the city that we’re seeing challenges in. Again, the real estate tax problem we have here.