(Ed: District 8 includes the West End, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill and Back Bay. District map pdf.)
Since Mike Ross is running for mayor, his District 8 City Council seat is open. Five candidates qualified to run to replace him. Angelica Addivinola is from the West End. Tom Dooley is from Beacon Hill. Gloria Murray is from Mission Hill. Mike Nichols lives in the Audubon Circle area, and Josh Zakim is from the Back Bay. None of the candidates is well known, so I’ll introduce four of them through this column in the next two weeks. Addivinola is not yet included since I’ve not heard from her after I issued an invitation to be interviewed. Today we’ll focus on Nichols and Dooley.
Mike Nichols, 30, grew up in Connecticut and moved to Boston in 2008 after earning a bachelor’s and a law degree from UConn. He began service in the public arena early, being elected president of UConn’s student body in his freshman year.
He points out that his strength in this campaign is his experience in neighborhood associations, state government and city government.
His first job was legal counsel to the Massachusetts House of Representative’s bonding committee. He said the chair told him he got the job because he knew what a bond was, having learned about such funding when he served as the elected student representative on the UConn board of trustees. After a couple of years he moved to now-Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s House of Representative’s staff where he was legal counsel and chief of staff.
Then Nichols went to city hall where he has been research director for the City Council, drafting ordinances, hearing orders, home rule petitions and other matters that city councilors work on. He reports he also had to keep up with the best practices in other cities as well.
Along the way he has been an adjunct professor at Lesley University and Bay State College, as well as a licensed real estate broker.
As a city councilor he said he would work on establishing schools in the district and improving schools througout the city. He would like to improve such city services as trash collection, snow removal and public safety. He supports moving the hackney unit from the police department to the transportation department, publicizing more effectively the BRA’s affordable housing programs, lifting the cap on liquor licenses as well as charter schools, but also striking a better balance between funding for traditional public schools and the charters. He said he is committed to protecting the city’s green spaces and managing development so it doesn’t threaten a neighborhood’s livability.
Quirky fact: he has not been able to raise money himself for his campaign since he has been a city employee. But he said he’d rather have votes than dollars.
Tom Dooley, 49, grew up in Jamaica Plain, went to American University and spent much of his 20s in Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia running restaurants and, for a short time, running an import business between Finland and Russia. He moved back to Boston in the late 1990s. His family owned income property in Boston so he established a real estate practice, which he now runs out of his house. He is a single father, raising kids ages 12 and 13.
He said he got interested in politics when Mayor Menino put the kibosh on establishing a public school in the former Emerson College building on Brimmer Street.
He pointed out that the 38,000 registered voters in district are the least diverse and most affluent in the city of Boston. “They should have a city councilor with a net worth,” he said.
If he were elected, he would work to get rid of busing, using the freed-up funds to improve the schools and provide “hazard pay” for teachers in troubled schools. He pointed out that lengthening the school day, a goal many candidates want to achieve, is impossible if kids have to sit on a bus for an hour or more to get to school.
He would work with state officials to re-open the Lee Pool, and extend the operating hours for T service in the most used areas by charging double fares, which, he pointed out, would still be significantly less than the charge for a cab ride.
His particular concern is the two different Bostons—the safe one and the violent one—and the declining number of black residents in the city, due to so many being killed by gunfire, he said. He said this administration has tuned a blind eye to such problems. He is particularly disgusted with elected officials who have either been sent to prison or the one who has been accused of assaulting his girlfriend but hasn’t resigned.
He would try to fix housing in Boston by moving city-owned residential properties more rapidly into private hands so they could be renovated and occupied, stabilizing neighborhoods and creating jobs.
Quirky fact: Dooley tells great tales of running his restaurant in Archangel, Russia, where he reports he worked with police to trap gangsters who tried to extract “protection” money from him and where he helped his female employees start a union.
All the candidates have been invited to participate in a forum in the Rabb Lecture Hall of the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street on Thursday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com.