Job Creation & Economic Development
One of my top priorities as your next State Representative, will be to create jobs and promote economic opportunities for all East Boston residents.
I will strive to protect our small businesses, which are the economic backbone of East Boston, by pushing to expand the Main Streets program beyond Maverick and Orient Heights Squares and will work with the City of Boston to streamline the permitting and licensing process for our local entrepreneurs.
I will fight to ensure that our waterfront’s booming development leads to jobs for East Boston residents, including union construction jobs and permanent jobs in the restaurants and bars built there.
I come from a family of educators. My mom was a long time director and teacher of an alternative high school for at risk youth in Boston and my sister is a member of the Boston Teachers Union, educating our youth at East Boston High School.
Every single child in East Boston deserves a first class education. To that end, parents should have school choice options. We are fortunate to have great public, private and charter schools in East Boston, including two of the top performing schools in the state, Excel Academy and Brooke Charter School. We are also home to innovative schools like the co-op model of the Harbor City preschool, as well as Boston’s only public elementary Montessori school, the Dante Alighieri.
As your State Representative, I will be a staunch advocate for increased state aid for our public education system. Boston’s state aid has decreased every year since 2008 and is now more than $150 million less than six years ago. I will fight to increase that aid, as well as push for more Pre-K seats and Advanced Work Class seats in East Boston so every child can receive a strong educational foundation. In addition, with our increase in population, I will work with the City of Boston and community stakeholders to expand our public middle school offerings to include more 5th to 8th grade seats.
Not every youth in East Boston will follow a traditional academic path. Our community deserves a vocational trade school that will prepare our children to have well-paying careers in the trades and lead successful lives.
We’re fortunate in East Boston to have a police force led by Captain Kelley McCormick that is focused on community policing. I’ve worked with our local police, in particular the Community Service Office, to build positive relationships between the residents and District A-7. From soccer tournaments to basketball leagues, we have worked hard to create real bonds between our neighborhood’s youth and our local police officers. For the past four years I have helped run the District A-7 Soccer Tournament, where 200+ local youth positively interact with our police who serve as referees for the games.
As our community continues to grow, we need to ensure that our police and youth-focused non-profits have the resources they need to serve the community. One of my top priorities as your State Representative will be to work with the City of Boston to site and fund a new police station for District A-7. I will also continue my efforts with community leaders to promote our non-profits like the YMCA, Social Centers, Salesian Boys and Girls Club, and our local BCYF community centers, which keep youth off the streets by providing them with constructive activities in safe and secure environments. In addition, I am committed to ensuring that our police force, as well as our local fire department, grow in a diverse manner to reflect the increasing population of our community. Finally, East Boston deserves its own dedicated emergency medical response facility, so ambulances don’t have to come from other communities to help our residents in need.
East Boston has evolved from a neighborhood blighted by vacant lots and disinvestment to one of the fastest growing real estate markets around. With this transformation, there is also a change in the fabric and character of our community. During my time as Vice President of the board for the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), I played an active role in ensuring that we have balanced and responsible development so all East Boston residents who wish to stay in our community have the ability to do so.
As your State Representative, I will continue to push for affordable housing, workforce housing and family housing to ensure that we maintain the fabric of our community that makes East Boston so special. I will advocate for an increase in first time homebuyer classes and benefits, which allowed me to become a proud East Boston homeowner last year. I will also work with the city to ensure that our infrastructure needs are met as our community continues to grow.
In my time with Rep. Basile, I worked to renovate our Blue Line stations, fought for the expansion of the Silver Line, and pushed for improvements to our bus service. As State Representative, I will advocate for the Red-Blue Connector linking Bowdoin station to Charles/MGH, and the Blue Line extension to Lynn. This improvements will ensure that people from our side of the Boston Harbor have better access to jobs, schools and hospitals in Boston, Cambridge, and beyond. Improving transit access to Logan Airport is good for Logan and for East Boston: improved access through multiple transit services can be one effective solution to reducing vehicular traffic through East Boston.
East Boston should have mobility choices, and therefore I will focus attention on two initiatives: first, improving MBTA bus service in East Boston by expanding routes and improving equipment and schedules; and second, bringing back our low-cost ferry transportation system, connecting our waterfront community with those in the North End, South Boston, and Charlestown.
Finally, I will work on improving service and access to The Ride for our seniors, who have been unfairly impacted in recent years.
As a community, we need to leverage our relationship with Massport. When the time comes to hold Massport accountable, I will proudly fight for our community. However, controlling the negative impacts of the airport through dialogue and negotiation along with mitigation and elimination of sources of impacts is the most effective approach.
I believe that every single household in East Boston should be eligible for sound proof windows. As your State Representative, I will work with Massport and the FAA to expand the noise contour map of East Boston and ensure that whenever possible, airplanes use the water route and not fly over our community.
Our neighborhood thrives when all members can achieve their full potential. It is unconscionable that in 2014, women doing equal work in Massachusetts do not get equal pay. Moreover, women are severely underrepresented in leadership positions and boards in our fastest growing industries including biotech, finance, and technology. As State Rep., I will ensure that women are full and equal citizens in our Commonwealth. I strongly support women’s reproductive rights and their safe access to services. Strong, healthy women make our society thrive.
I was raised to believe that all people share a common humanity and that a core human value is the right to be one’s true self. I strongly support the right of consenting adults, regardless of their gender identity, to love and marry whoever they choose. Moreover, I join our incoming Attorney General, Maura Healey, and other like-minded leaders in supporting the protection of our transgender neighbors from discrimination in the work place. We should celebrate the richness and diversity of our identities and promote compassion toward those who differ from us.
The Boston Latin School Ward Fellowship, which gave me my first taste of public service through an internship at Boston City Hall, did so much for me that I have spent many years trying to provide similar opportunities to local youth. Four years ago, I co-founded a public service fellowship at East Boston High School. Named after the late judge Mario Umana, each summer the Umana Fellowship provides two East Boston youth with paid government internships, showing them that public service is a viable career path and getting them civically engaged in their community.
As Vice President of the East Boston YMCA and as President of the Harborside Community Council, I worked on programs for adolescents that raise awareness of relationship violence, healthy lifestyles and substance abuse. As State Rep., I will advocate for an expansion of programs like these, as they make tangible differences in the lives of our children.
Our seniors are the backbone of our community and I am grateful for their hard work and dedication over many years to make East Boston a vibrant place. Right now, there is not a central location where our seniors can go to socialize and participate in activities. One of my top priorities as your State Representative will be to build a senior center in East Boston offering a variety of activities to meet their needs.
No senior should have to worry about which bills to pay or getting their utilities shut off because of high rent. As Chief of Staff to Rep. Basile, I have spent years working with city and state agencies to find affordable housing options for seniors. As State Rep., I will work to create more affordable options for our seniors so that no senior is priced out of the community in which they raised their families.
My sister and her husband are veterans of the Marine Corps and I have good friends who bravely fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. These selfless men and women deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity.
One of my proudest accomplishments while working for Representative Basile was helping to craft the VALOR Act II, a major piece of legislation that ensures that Massachusetts remains number one in veterans benefits, services, and resources in the country. As your State Rep., I will continue to build on the great work of Representative Basile, picking up where he left off and carrying the torch for our veterans in Massachusetts.
East Boston has welcomed more immigrants into America than anywhere else, second only to Ellis Island. My father is an immigrant from Venice, Italy making me a first generation American. My mother’s family comes from Avellino, Italy and immigrated to East Boston in the early 1900s. My immigrant roots help me understand how challenging it can be to move to a new country and experience a new language, culture and customs.
I am proud of my role as Board President of the Harborside Community Council, the largest provider of adult education and ESL classes in East Boston. As your State Rep., I will strongly advocate for an expansion of adult education and ESL classes to help new East Bostonians acclimate and succeed in their new community.
I am very proud to be on the board of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. Folks like Dr. Jim Taylor, Jack Cradock, and now Manny Lopes are visionaries in the field of health care, and helped build our local health center from a small organization into the largest community health center in the country. It is also one of the biggest employers in East Boston, employing over a thousand people and seeing over 300,000 patient visits a year. It is a true cornerstone of this community. I have tremendously enjoyed my work on the board, helping to promote a healthy and vibrant East Boston.
As State Rep., I will continue to advocate for the Health Center to take a leading role in addressing obesity, health impacts of Logan Airport, and substance abuse in our community.
Substance abuse is a tough issue that impacts all of us in one way or another. I was proud to work alongside our elected officials in creating the East Boston Substance Abuse Task Force, which brought stakeholders from all sectors of the community together to have a dialogue on how to best address the problems. Our first Substance Abuse Awareness Day was a success, galvanizing residents around this issue and helping to promote resources available to those who are in need. Beyond that first step, as your State Representative I will continue to advocate for more resources for those affected by substance abuse, pushing for education and increased treatment options.
My greatest concern for Suffolk Downs is making sure that those employees who have already lost their jobs, hundreds of whom are East Boston residents, have priority in the hiring process for future redevelopment.
There is great potential at Suffolk Downs. It’s 162 acres of open space, accessible by two public train stations, the Boston Harbor and Chelsea Creek, sits along a major highway, and is five minutes from Logan Airport.
The redevelopment of Suffolk Downs could be transformative and a tremendous boost to our local economy. As your State Representative, I will work with all stakeholders to lead a transparent, community driven process that has a positive impact on East Boston.
Public Arts & Amenities
We have a vibrant arts community in East Boston that deserves more funding and attention. HarborArts at the Shipyard boasts the largest outdoor public art display in Massachusetts and should be leveraged in order to attract visitors and investment.
Additionally, we can use the expertise of local artists to develop youth programming for children interested in the arts, providing opportunities for them to create public art in our neighborhood.
Parks & Recreation
With our waterfront development moving forward, I will be a strong advocate for the timely completion of Piers Park Phase II. East Boston needs committed community activists collaborating with elected leadership to leverage the waterfront developers in providing seed money to Piers Park Phase II.
Another priority I have for our community will be completing the Greenway. Once complete, East Boston will be the only community with one continuous multimodal path from one side of East Boston to the other.
As your State Representative, I will also work on activating more pocket parks throughout the community, as I did working with Rep. Basile and MassDOT, when we created three new pocket parks between Maverick and Central Squares this past year.
We currently have one major access point to the water in Constitution Beach, however, there are micro beaches all over East Boston. As State Representative, I will make those areas accessible to residents, so everyone can fully enjoy our waterfront community.