Meeting The Candidates For Mayor Of Boston: Andrea Campbell

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City Councillor Andrea Campbell speaks to the news media. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
City Councillor Andrea Campbell speaks to the news media. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Boston mayoral primary is on September 14.

WBUR's Radio Boston will join WCVB, The Boston Globe and the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston to bring you a debate among the major candidates on Thursday, September 9.

Ahead of the debate, we're inviting each candidate to our virtual studio to make their case to you.

Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, representing the city's fourth district, joined Radio Boston to make the case why she should be the next mayor of Boston.

Below are highlights from their conversation, which have been lightly edited.

Interview Highlights

On why, in a race of firsts, she thinks she's the right choice to lead Boston:

"Well, I never jumped into this race to become the first woman or first black mayor. For me, it was always about the moment in time we were in in this city and truly doing the work to address the inequities that we see in the city of Boston while investing in all the things that make us great. So we'll continue to be a world class city.

"So I jumped into the race back in September and obviously forging ahead, but stressing a few things. One, my lived experience, the very issues that we're talking about: Housing affordability, the inequities in our educational system, the public health crises that we are dealing with — not only with respect to covid, but also the Mass & Cass crisis.

"I have lived many of these and I have talked about the fact that this city gave me everything growing up poor in the city of Boston. It took a poor girl out of Roxbury and sent me off to Princeton University. But on the flipside, my twin brother died while in the custody of a state prison. And I've been stressing that this city clearly did not work for him.

"But the other thing that is distinctive about my candidacy is my record of accomplishment. I've done the work of closing the gaps, [and] not only with respect to housing issues in the city of Boston: I've led the way on policing reform; I've put out reports over the years to close the inequities in our education system."

On the issues she would prioritize to provide opportunity to Bostonians:

"There are a whole a whole host of ways to tackle it, but I'm also not naive. We are in a crisis right now. We're dealing with several. One, of course, is COVID-19. And I continue to exercise leadership on our response. They are pushing for the city of Boston not only to mandate vaccination with, of course, some limited exceptions, but also incentivizing folks to get vaccinated — essentially what we're doing and what they're doing in New York City. We have yet to adopt that here. That is critically important. I live in Mattapan now where we have a low vaccination rate and I want Boston to continue to lead the way when it comes to our COVID response. So more work to do there.

"The second is the opioid crisis at Mass & Cass. I refuse to believe that residents that are dealing with the crises, as we're seeing there, only get worse in the city of Boston that they have to wait for the next mayoral election to get action from the acting mayor and the administration on those critical issues. And that isn't just about quality of life issues, of course, for those residents. It also is about the folks who are dealing with substance use disorder and homelessness that we have to help.

"And then lastly, we can close the gap when it comes to housing affordability, our Boston public schools, as well as, of course, economic opportunity generally. And I've put out some very thoughtful plans on how to do that, what very specific things which we'll never cover in 15 minutes, but very specific things that folks can, of course, visit at my website to learn a lot more."

On her proposal to address the "Mass and Cass" crisis, which includes naming a tsar to lead the city's efforts and establish ferry service to the former treatment center on Long Island:

"These are what I heard will work from the stakeholders I engaged when I developed my plan, I engaged members of the previous mayors task force. I engaged folks who are experiencing substance use disorder, hospitals, community based health centers, recovery specialists, those who work in supportive housing. I engaged everyone to put forth ideas I knew would have an impact. And what has been extremely frustrating is that I put this plan out in January, I was the first candidate to put out such a plan and there has been no action. A lot of rhetoric from the acting mayor and the administration, but no action.

"And I stay up late at night getting the calls and the emails from folks who are finding needles in their parks, needles on the ground and bodies on the street and tents going up in the city of Boston. And I grew up on Mass Ave. and I didn't have any of that growing up poor in this city. And I said 'That's unacceptable in the city of Boston.' So I'm pushing for implementation of my plan, which I know would have an immediate impact and hoping that it happens before the mayoral election because this cannot be political. It really has to be about action to address the other public health crisis that we're dealing with in the city of Boston."

On the efforts by a group of Black Bostonians to coalesce behind a single candidate for mayor. Many of those members have endorsed acting Mayor Kim Janey:

"I haven't come out against that organizing. There are actually many folks who participated in that process who are supporting me in this election. What I have said clearly is that the Black voters of the city of Boston are not a monolith and that just because you have a Black candidate doesn't mean that Black voters will vote for that candidate. They, like every other voter in the city of Boston, want to know who are you? What are you about? What have you done and what will you do?

"So I'm taking my message not only to Black voters, of course, but to every resident in the city of Boston to say, my lived experience is unique. And while it's painful and tragic, it's an opportunity for me to inform the work. And it's also informed the issues I've focused on, including housing affordability, policing reform, and, of course, exercising leadership with respect to the public health crises we're dealing with in the city.

"And I have a long record of accomplishment on significant things. The Office of Police Accountability and Transparency; I drafted that legislation. Of course, putting out a plan to address to address Mass and Cass. Housing affordability; The Community Preservation Act was my first piece of legislation. It's generating $20 million every year, including for affordable housing. And the list and record of accomplishment is long and specific.

"That's the message I'm sharing with voters, along with my plans for the future, which is to make this city not only continue to be world class and to invest in our incredible ecosystem here, but to close the persistent gaps in education, our racial wealth gap and so much more. That's the message that I want voters to respond to. I get out there to do the work to earn their support."

This article was originally published on August 23, 2021.

This segment aired on August 23, 2021.

Headshot of Amanda Beland

Amanda Beland Senior Producer
Amanda Beland is a producer and director for Radio Boston. She also reports for the WBUR newsroom.


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Tiziana Dearing Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.



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