Mota is extremely well-spoken; she has a richness of experience in the neighborhood; and evinces compassion on behalf of her neighbors. And walking around the neighborhood with her, one gets the strong impression that she knows everybody already. “I think if you go around and talk to folks, people are concerned about the local [quality of life] … making sure people can still live here, and how can we make sure East Boston will prosper and grow.”
I asked about her views on education: She spoke of getting on the school/parent council, addressing the achievement gap, and the unfortunately high dropout rate. Mota stresses the importance of community involvement: “I'm a big advocate of family/community engagement coordinators,” referring to her own experience in the Boston Parent Organizing Network. She'd like to see more investment — effort and money — in this kind of strategy.
David asked her views on MCAS: She thinks it's been important in evaluating achievement, and pointing out the achievement gap between white kids and black and hispanic kids. But she doesn't think it should be the sole graduation requirement.
East Boston is indeed an island, and easily overlooked by power brokers — unless they're from here. I asked her what she would want Deval Patrick, Sal DiMasi and Terry Murray to know about East Boston. She said she'd want them to see the importance of the small business community; the new health center that keeps folks out of the ER (thanks to Travaglini's advocacy, incidentally), and how it will be affected by the new health care law. She notes it's a working class community, and people may find it difficult to stay as Eastie undergoes a degree of gentrification. She notes the tension between rising property values (good) and the dislocation that arises from the inability to buy into — or stay in — a rising market (bad).
David asked about the tension with Massport over airport expansion. “There's a lot of lingering resentment”, says Mota, but admits that the airport isn't going anywhere. “I think this is where I as a candidate, bring a unique perspective. I come from community organizing, community activists; I value community input … Sometimes the input is not what you want to hear, but it's valid; and people need to feel like their voice has been heard.” She talks about the importance of a inclusive discussion between community and airport, taking issues like parks and air quality into consideration. (They are nice new parks in Eastie — we saw them ourselves.)
David asked whether it was a good thing for accountability to have Massport as part of the executive branch. Mota agrees accountability is the key, but also forsees that it could be a difficult situation for a state rep, since it may take away the ability local concerns
Mota promises humility as an elected official; in speaking of the tendency of elected leaders to become aloof, Mota laughs, “If I get elected, please bring me down quickly. Bring me down whenever it goes to my head, let me know — and you can play this, too [pointing to the recorder], remind me once I get elected.”