Differing views became apparent at a forum among City Councilor-at-Large candidates on issues including neighborhood schools, busing, the Shadow Bill, taxes, casinos, university expansion, the PILOT program and reform of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
A key issue where candidate views diverged significantly was school busing and giving more neighborhood students priority to attend schools within walking distance. There was also a notable split on support for the Shadow Bill and casino gambling.
The seven candidates vying for the four City Councilor-at-Large seats on Election Day participated in “Boston Neighborhoods” forum held on October 24, 2011 at Park Street School on the flat of Beacon Hill. The neighborhood organizations of Boston, including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the West End, the North End, the South End and others, jointly sponsored the 4th Biennial Boston Neighborhoods City Councilor-at-Large Candidates Forum. The forum’s moderator was Peter Nessen, a long-time Beacon Hill resident and well-known former governmental official. Rob Whitney from the Beacon Hill Civic Association coordinated the forum on behalf of the Boston neighborhood groups.
The seven candidates for Boston City Councilor-at-Large are: Felix Arroyo (incumbent), John Connolly (incumbent), Will Dorcena, Michael Flaherty (former Councilor and Mayoral candidate), Stephen Murphy (incumbent), Ayanna Pressley (incumbent) and Sean Ryan.
The above video contains the complete forum. Below is a video index of the questions. Where Yes/No questions were asked, I have listed those responses although please listen to the video for the specific candidate answers.
08:10 Priorities: What makes you stand out, why are you running and what will be your priorities for the first six months?
16:30 School Busing, Education and “Neighborhood Schools”: Downtown Boston residents have advocated for “neighborhood schools” including a proposal to reduce “busing” and give priority to 75% of a school’s students, instead of the current 50%, to those within walking distance. Do you support the change to 75% in favor of “neighborhood schools”? (Related post: Eliot School Expansion-Back to School Roundup)
- Answers: Arroyo-No, but long-term goal; Connolly-Yes; Dorcena-No; Flaherty-Yes; Murphy-Yes; Pressley-No, but long-term goal; Ryan-Yes
26:20 What are the greatest problems in Boston neighborhoods? What is the single most important social change experienced in the City over the past decade? What challenges have these presented to residents and what would you do to address them?
34:30 Shadow Bill: Do you support proposed State legislation to protect certain park from shadows that would be caused by new tower development?
- Answers: Arroyo-Yes; Connolly-No; Dorcena-Yes; Flaherty-Yes, with flexibility; Murphy-Yes; Pressley-No; Ryan-No
43:25 City Finances: Where can new revenue be added and cost cuts be made?
51:15 Gambling: Do you support a casino or slot parlor to bring in added revenue?
- Answers: Arroyo-Yes; Connolly-Up to People; Dorcena-No; Flaherty-Yes; Murphy-Yes; Pressley-No; Ryan-No
52:20 Universities / PILOT program: How would you handle the continued expansion of institutions (including colleges, non-profits subject to PILOT program) potentially threatening the character of our neighborhoods?
1:00:45 BRA: Are you satisfied with the focus on luxury developments by the Boston Redevelopment Authority?
- Answers: All candidates supported changes or elimination of the BRA.
1:09:00 Closing statements
Don’t forget to vote! Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2011.