by Rick Winterson
A quick count Tuesday evening indicated more than 200 attendees at the Candidates Forum for the City Council District 2 race, which was held in the auditorium of the UP Academy Charter School on Dorchester Street. The Forum was not a political debate. Instead, it took the form of various questions submitted by the public, which were then answered by each of the individual candidates in turn.
Desmond Rohan, who isn’t from District 2, moderated the Forum in a skilled and even-handed manner. He is to be complimented. The seven candidates were Corey Dinopoulos, Ed Flynn, Joe Kebartas, Mike Kelley, Peter Lin-Marcus, Erica Tritta, and Kora Vakil. First, each of the candidates was allowed two minutes to introduce her- or himself, and to make brief comments on key South Boston issues. And there were connecting threads in each candidate’s introduction: every one of them criticized the rapid, uncontrolled pace of development in South Boston, along with the critical need for affordable housing here (“residents have to decide between having a family or moving out of South Boston”).
Specific questions (submitted by the public before the Forum) then followed – the opening question was about the opioid crisis. All the candidates agreed that more action is needed, especially additional treatment facilities and professional care. A question about Boston schooling followed, which generated responses ranging from “lack of good schools is the reason people leave South Boston”, to the need for more vocational education, to education “as an investment in diversity”. The question about turning D Street into a pedestrian mall led to various opinions about how South Boston must become a more bicycle-and-walking oriented neighborhood. Another key question was, “How will you hold developers to the promises they make to the public, in order to obtain approval for their projects?” Among the answers were “frequent meetings with them”, “enforcement”, and “follow-up”.
Time didn’t allow answering all of the questions, which included parking (of course!), housing, industrial projects, and home rule. Mention must be made here about the obvious courtesy that every candidate showed to each other and to the audience. All of the candidates obeyed the time limits carefully, a welcome relief from many political meetings that go way over their agreed-upon times. This was refreshing – all of the candidates and the moderator deserve credit for this.
Although it is only one opinion, this writer felt that Candidate Flynn offered the most specific answers to the various questions. For example, he mentioned reopening Long Island in his answer to the opioid crisis question, and establishing more vocational schools when the question on education came up.
One final note: the Primary Election is this coming Tuesday, September 26. PLEASE VOTE