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Physician And State Rep. Jon Santiago Steps Into Mayor's Race

From left, Don Berwick, Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, and state Rep. Jon Santiago show support for presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren in 2020. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
From left, Don Berwick, Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, and state Rep. Jon Santiago show support for presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren in 2020. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Add state Rep. Jon Santiago to the growing list of people aspiring to become the next mayor of Boston.

A native of Puerto Rico, Santiago was first elected to represent the South End and Roxbury in the state legislature in 2018.

Santiago, who is also an emergency room doctor at Boston Medical Center, said COVID-19 has laid bare the inequalities faced by residents in Boston. Now the big question is how the city recovers from the pandemic.

"This race is really about electing a mayor who's going to not only address the acute crisis that is COVID-19 ... but what I'm more worried about over the next several years, is what type of Boston bounces back from COVID-19," Santiago told WBUR.

Santiago is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

He came to Boston from Puerto Rico as a young boy, and saw firsthand the inequities faced by the city's immigrants and people of color — but also the opportunities.

"We moved initially to Dorchester, then to Roxbury, and my father was able to actually graduate Northeastern while having a full time job during the day," he said. "And he was struggling to get by with subsidized housing, Section 8, and relying on government support. And so I've always viewed Boston as a place of opportunity."

Santiago said a key part of his candidacy will be about finding a solution to the "Mass and Cass" area, or the parts of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Mass. Avenue near Boston Medical Center.

"This opportunity to become the mayor of Boston, and to really drive change in partnership with our great relationships in the State House and in the governor's office, I think is what's going to be needed to address [Mass and Cass]," he said, "not just providing resources, but [taking] into account those people who need the services [and] the community impacted by it."

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Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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