Now Running in District 7: 16 People and Here’s Your Guide!

There are plenty of ways to effect change in your city.  A lot of them, you can do without much fanfare.  A donation to a good cause, a morning run with some of the city’s neediest, a few hours helping with tax returns, after-school education for neighborhood kids. All make a difference.  But sometimes, effecting change requires a very public effort, and a mix of public service, good ideas, personal outreach, a bit of fundraising, and lots of paperwork.  That method of effecting change has led 16 city residents to apply for nomination papers for the Boston City Council’s Special Election to replace Councilor Chuck Turner in District 7.

Running for office isn’t the easiest way to make a difference in the community, but it sure beats volunteer work.  (Rimshot).  Candidates must have lived in the district since March 15, 2010, turn in 191 certified signatures to qualify for the ballot, campaign (a lot), survive February 15’s preliminary election, campaign (even more), come out on top at the final special election on March 15, and be willing to work in what has been called the world’s ugliest building.  (The last one is the hard part).

Who’s running?  Pretty much everyone.  Active Twitter personality and newly-elected State Representative Carlos Henriquez tweeted this about the field of candidates: “If you can’t find a candidate to vote for please consider another district. #nopleasingu.”  No kidding, right?  There are (at least) 16 people vying for this seat!  In alphabetical order by first name, the candidates (reported in the media) are:

  • Abdillahi Mash Abdirahman
  • Althea Garrison
  • Anthony Baker
  • Candace Sealey
  • Carla M. Johnson
  • Charles Omekagu Williams
  • Cornell Mills
  • Danielle Renee Williams
  • David James Wyatt
  • James Carr
  • Kevin A. Dwire
  • Lee Buckley
  • Natalie E. Carithers
  • Roy Owens
  • Sheneal Parker
  • Tito Jackson

Now, we won’t know for sure who is on the ballot until after the signatures are certified later this month, but still!  That’s a lot of people to evaluate!  (Did I forget someone?  Add them in the comments.)

Obviously, ONEin3 isn’t going to tell you for whom you should cast your vote.  And, in my 4th year of explicitly non-partisan employment, I’m definitely not going to tell you, unless you want to tell me where I can get a better job.  But if we’re talking about making a difference and engaging in our communities, it’s crucial that we’re looking beyond ourselves.  Love it or hate it, politics is an essential part of that.

As the campaign wages on, I’m going to try to reach out to the candidates and see if they’re interested in answering some basic questions so our District 7 resident readership has one more perspective into the important decisions they’ll be making on February 15 and March 15!

Is there anything you’d like me to ask?  Give your ideas in the comments section and I’ll try to include them.

You Oughta Know:

JANUARY 26: District 7 residents must be registered to vote by this date in order to participate in the February 15 preliminary election.  Confirm your voter registration.

FEBRUARY 15: Preliminary election day: cast your vote!

FEBRUARY 23: District 7 residents must be registered to vote by this date in order to participate in the March 15 general election.  Confirm your voter registration.

MARCH 15: General election day: cast your vote!

Rebel With A Cause: Starting the New Year Off Right

So, we’re past the holidays, where everyone from Scott Brown to Rick Fox shows up at homeless shelters to serve up dinner and photo ops, and New Year’s, full of resolution-fueled do-gooders and gym-goers.  High-schoolers applying to college are too late to pad applications with good deeds and we’ve given all our old winter coats to the Salvation Army – our closets are bare.  Toys for Tots has been replenished and distributed, no thanks to some Grinch-like villains.  Everyone has done their part.  The city is thankful.  We can all go back to our lives of quiet desperation, as they say.

But wait! Stop! Don’t!

This may be old news to everyone else, but I just saw a startling figure and I’ve gotta share it.  Did you know that Massachusetts ranks 34th in the country for average volunteer rates? And alright, Bostonians, before you go blaming it on Central Mass or the Cape, check this out:

Boston: 25.5% of residents volunteer; 29 hours per resident
Barnstable:  37.8% of residents volunteer; 95.6 hours per resident
Worcester:  26.1% of residents volunteer; 33.4 hours per resident

That’s right.  When it comes to volunteering, Boston is worse than both.  What gives, Boston!?  And I know what you’re going to say – sure, but we’ve got New York City totally beat (NYC:  15.9% of residents volunteer; 21.7 hours per resident).  Which is fine and all, but really, we’re supposed to be better than New York.  We’re Boston!  Not to mention, we’re losing to Minnesota, which, according to those best-places-to-live magazine articles, is pretty much the new Massachusetts, thanks to good schools, four distinct seasons, and fall foliage.  That’s right.  Minnesota.*  We took Kevin Garnett from them!  This is their revenge!

I can’t live like this.  It’s one thing to lose a congressional seat – I get it, people don’t like cold weather.  Fine.  Go to Florida.  See if I care.  But we can’t even win on doing good?  We can’t beat Minnesota?*

Now, since all of you people seem perfectly nice when I see you on the T and in the Common and waiting in line at City Hall, I’ll assume that it isn’t that you don’t want to improve the city or the lives of its people.  Maybe you think the city is pretty awesome as is (agreed, to a point) and that you just haven’t been asked.  Well, with regards to Tip O’Neill, I’m asking.

Here’s the plan – starting now, I’m going to present some great organizations in and around the city.  You read the posts, share with friends who might be interested, and follow up with the contacts I provide.  Then you start volunteering!  You improve lives and neighborhoods, make friends, and recruit new volunteers.  You think of other ways to make things better.  And as you come up with new thoughts, you post comments on the blog here.  We try to spotlight your issue.  People read about it, share, follow up, and then boom!  Cycle begins.  City gets better.  And we totally beat Minnesota next time around.*  And we keep Garnett.

*No offense to Minnesota.  I’m sure you’re great people.  But seriously. Minnesota?!