tv Boston Mayoral Debate CSPAN October 16, 2021 4:30am-5:30am EDT
♪ moderator: hello and welcome to the wbz boston mayoral debate. i'm john keller, political analyst for wbz tv and cbs in boston with a special welcome to our radio listeners across the city on wbz newsradio 1030 viewers everywhere watching us on c-span. this is the first debate between the two city councilors running for mayor. they are in alphabetical order. annissa essaibi george of dorchester, first elected to her at large council seat in 2015. welcome, councilor. and michelle wu of roslindale, 1st elected to her at large seat in 2013. welcome to you as well, councilor. before we begin, a quick word about our format -- each candidate will have one minute to address the same question.
they'll take turns in alphabetical order going first. then there's an open period of rebuttal and debate in which the candidates can question one another and raise other relevant topics. we're keeping track of talk time to ensure there is no major imbalance. there are only three golden rules -- no filibustering, no talking over one another, and whatever you do, don't ignore your friendly moderator. sound good? alright, let's begin our debate. candidates, tonight is a chance for undecided voters in particular to get a better sense of the choice you to present. you hold the same elected office and you share a number of positions on issues. but what's the most significant difference between the two of you? >> first, thanks so much for having us here this evening to talk about the very important work that we need to do for the people of boston, those that are tuned in this evening. i'm grateful to have the
opportunity to lead this city based on my experience building a business, raising a family growing up in this city. , but most importantly, i think what sets me aside in particular is my years in the classroom. i was a 13 year teacher at east boston high, and i'm so proud of that experience. it gave me certain insight into the work that we need to do together as a city to make sure that each and every one of our kids has an opportunity to a high-quality education, that they have the support services in place every single day. i will lead on that as i have as a member of the boston city council, doing the work to make sure that our kids get what they need. i'm also a small business owner and that work too is important, especially thinking about the impact covid has had on our city. my experiences have made me the person i am today and i look forward to leading the city. moderator: alright, time up . same question, what's the difference between you two? >> so first i want to echo the thanks for having us here today
and for everyone taking the time to watch and engage on this very important moment for the city's future. i'm running for mayor to take on the big challenges in boston. i know what it means when government works, but especially when government doesn't work. i'm the daughter of immigrants. i am a mom with two kids and our -- kids in our boston public schools, and i live every day with the stakes of our policy making, as a t rider and as someone raising a family in the city. i bring a track record of a decade in city hall, fighting for that boldest vision of what's possible and then doing the work of bringing people together to get it done. time and again on the city council and in city government, we have taken on the big fights to make boston the first city in the country to pass, for example, paid parental leave to protect our city workers, to fight for language access so that everyone can communicate with our city government to ensure that we are leading the way. and if there was ever a moment in the city's history where we need to have that spirit of fighting for what we deserve, it is right now, and i am eager to do that, bringing everyone
together. moderator: rebuttal. >> well, i'd say first i'm so proud to have the endorsement of so many, almost all of our cities -- city's workers in this race. they believe not just in my bold vision, but in my ability to act my ability to be engaged to be present and to do the work for the people of the city of boston and to do it and with in partnership with those that are our frontline workers. those that show up every single day are essential city workers who are dedicated to the efforts of moving this city forward. it's so important to have that bold vision, which i have. it's also important to have bold action, and i have as a member of the boston city council acted , as it relates to our schools as it relates to our , communities, especially as it relates to our families experiencing homelessness. i have led on the issues that support our most vulnerable residents and i've done that in partnership with our city. moderator: are you drawing a distinction between your work and that of your opponent? >> certainly i think that , there is a clear distinction. it is so important to think boldly and i do that every
single day response. i also do the work every single day. moderator: go ahead. >> we're in a moment where waiting and sitting back and hoping for other levels of government or a slow, comfortable conversation isn't gonna cut it anymore. the pandemic has deepened every inequity in boston, we are already one of the most unequal cities in the country. we see the burdens of our broken systems squarely on the shoulders of black and brown families across the city. i am proud to not only be standing in partnership with many leaders in our community, to be shoulder to shoulder with leaders like mayor kim janey, congresswoman ayanna pressley, who are standing with our campaign because we have a track record of working together and getting things done. not just being in community, but ensuring that we are doing the work, passing legislation, delivering on equity in city contracting, ensuring that boston is leading the way on climate justice, housing, affordability, public transportation, the foundation of what our families need. moderator: i'm still not hearing a distinction between the two of you.
>> i will draw a quick distinction if i might. the important piece of leading the city of boston and doing this work, which i want to do this work every single day running the city of boston doing , in partnership with the people of the city of boston, you only do that by being in community with the people. talking to them, working with them, leading with them. the voices of the people of boston are the most important in this conversation. we need to put people over politics. the people of boston have to be center to the work that we're doing every single day. moderator: response, please. >> i don't see a distinction there. we are in alignment that this moment is one where boston's voices need to be front and center and i have a track record of showing not only is it important to be in community, but when you leave those meetings, to follow up and take action and get things done. there is no time left when it comes to fighting for that vision of our future that includes climate justice, that will stabilize families in our homes, that will connect people to the opportunities that our
economy needs as we're recovering from this pandemic. i'm proud to be doing that work and to have an unmatched track record in terms of delivering and getting results. >> i actually disagree. i disagree. i think there are very clear distinctions between not just our style in government but our ability to get this work done. i have done it in partnership with those that are experiencing homelessness. i've done it at mass and cast. i have been on our streets working with our people one person at a time, one street at a time, one community at a time. this work is too important to simply do behind a podium at city hall. it has to be done in community , and it has to center on our most vulnerable people. that's what i've done. that is the work around ending family homelessness in the city. something that we continue to struggle with. making sure individuals who are not well have access to recovery services, making sure that our small businesses in our city's residents are getting the services they need as a challenge of the opioid crisis impacts them so directly. i've done that work. i have not simply talked about it. moderator: i will give you the
last word. >> all do respect to my colleague and friend, we have both been out in community. we have both walked the streets in the area near mass and casts have been at countless hearings , and conversations. but for all the times that we have each been there, the situation has gotten worse. year after year. the size of the opiate crisis has nearly tripled. we need not just to keep having the same conversations and meetings over and over again but to take action that gets at root causes to aim for that bold , decision. even when it feels uncomfortable, even when people say it can't be done or it's outside the purview of city government, we can't be afraid to fight for what are residents -- what our residents need. moderator: since you both brought up mass and cast let's drill down a little bit on that. the humanitarian crisis involving hundreds of addicted homeless people camped out near that intersection promises to get even more dangerous in the coming weeks as temperatures drop. there are at least two short term fixes on the table right
now. suffolk county sheriff steve tompkins' proposal supported by attorney general healey to involuntarily commit the homeless there to an empty facility on the south bay correctional campus, where they'd be housed and received treatment, and the shaddock hospital public health campus in franklin park where short term , detox, long term recovery and housing needs could be addressed. which of these do you support and if you don't support either , one, what's your specific short term alternative? >> we need action right away for our opiate crisis, for this overlapping crisis of substance use, homelessness and mental health. and every time that i have been in the area, walking with patients, with business owners, with neighbors in the area, feel the failure, you feel the sense that we have continued to ignore the growing situation. i will make sure that we're getting in there right away. my first 100 days putting funding towards outreach so that we are reaching every single person on the streets, expanding our treatment in partnership
with community health centers, with regional partners around the whole area and getting at the root causes of the housing crisis that underlies the situation. both of these solutions that have been proposed suggests something, which is that we have resources available, whether it's empty buildings that are publicly owned, whether it is land that is available. we need to move quickly to have a public health led approach. so i believe that we need to ensure that we are not criminalizing patients who are there, but ensuring we're treating people and also addressing housing, but to do so , to move quickly in partnership with our entire region. moderator: just a quick follow, do you like either one? >> i'm open to conversations on both, but i have proposed ensuring that in my 1st 100 days we will audit every single city owned building and parcel to see where the city of boston can quickly retrofit for supportive housing. moderator: one minute. >> we can't wait until the 1st 100 days of any mayoral administration is through. this is work that needs to happen today. it is work that i have led on as a member of the boston city council over the last six years
, and yes, the crisis has gotten worse. we need to explore suffolk county, but it needs to be a public health overseeing effort. we need to use the shaddock. we need to rebuild the long island bridge. we need to decentralize services, help the 400 people that are sleeping on the street tonight in so many parts of our city where this crisis is touching hundreds and hundreds of individuals. it could be my child, it could be michelle's child in a tent tonight that is set on fire. it could be another tent that is served a search warrant. we have to act with quickness. we cannot wait 100 days. it is work i have done over the last six years and then continued to be committed on and prepared to lead on day one. >> i was out on long island shortly before the bridge was shut down and have seen just how much the temporary solutions have grown in that area because we haven't committed to a long
term plan. rebuilding the bridge would be a product that is 4, 5, 10 years into the future. hundreds of millions of dollars when we can activate the land of boston, owns rehab the buildings and activate ferry service to ensure we're moving much more quickly than that. deploy our resources, not to have the same conversations year after year, but to pull people in to move the conversation in different ways. and to ensure that the city of boston is fully in the game, looking at every resource that we have. moderator: response? >> we have no more time for conversation. we have to act. i have been acting as a member of the city council, as a member of the mass and cast task force as a member as a founding member , who pushed for the creation of the south end task force which , was working every day to solve for this problem. we need partnership. i've committed to bring together city leaders from across the region to work on a collaborative effort. as a member of the city council, i have brought together those that are along the continuum of care -- state partners care
providers, public safety agencies to the table to fix a broken continuum of care. the mayor needs to lead on this issue, and as mayor day one, i'm prepared to continue with the work i started on the city council. moderator: unless you want a few seconds, i'd like to move on. >> i'll just note that we've heard from many of the task force members and folks in community on all sides. that there's incredible frustration with the ongoing conversations. year after year, month after month. especially as the situation has worsened. we need action and that means not just continuing what we're doing, but getting at root causes underlying this is a , housing crisis that we must address. >> i will say the process is stalled under the interim administration. there was work underway that ended through the acting mayor's efforts over this last eight months. we have seen especially over the last three months of proliferation of tents from a handful to 100 to over 200 individuals in crisis intents -- in tents that need services tonight.
women who are being sexually assaulted and violated. we've had over the last two months, six murders at mass and cast. we need action. we cannot wait 100 days for that act. moderator: i don't want to shortchange you. >> we need to but making sure we not be pointing fingers but making sure we continue to build, draw on every resources we have. everyone is ready to help here from city state, county federal -- city, state, county, federal government. we need to ensure that there's clear leadership, decisive action and a plan coming from city government. moderator: well, let's talk more about housing because that's obviously a huge issue here in the city. according to research by the dukakis center for urban and regional policy, 68% of boston's rental properties are single units owned by small landlords . during the pandemic, these landlords have accounted for just 34% of evictions and nearly 40% of them offered rent deferment plans to their tenants. if small landlords are more likely to be part of the solution than part of the problem, as these numbers suggest, what will you do to
protect them from bankruptcy and incentivize more tenant friendly behavior? one minute please. >> well, certainly housing is too expensive for too many bostonians. i am committed to making sure that this city is a place for everyone who wants to call boston home home, regardless of what their accent is. boston should be a place for anyone who wants to be here. certainly, we have to find deeper affordability. certainly we have to create and i'm committed to creating more first time homebuyer opportunities for our city's residents, especially first generation homebuyers. families who have been here for generations who have not had an opportunity to set down roots and own a piece of this city. that is my commitment to the people of boston. we also have to invest in our boston public housing authority, we have 48,000 families on a wait list today, we are only housing 800 at a time. the city under my administration will step up invest in public housing, making sure that our most vulnerable, our lowest
income families are taken care of. that is an answer is part of the solution to family homelessness in the city, which i have led on, i have brought that conversation to city hall, to the city council and will continue to lead on it as mayor. moderator: one minute. >> we've seen during the pandemic, just how fundamental housing is housing is health safety opportunity. in many cases, your connection to community and the ties that you have. i get to live in a two family home upstairs with my husband and two boys. my mom is downstairs and we're able to be in a multi generational situation that provides so many supports. we are seeing families further and further separated from their supports, pushed out of boston. nearly two thirds of our residents are renters and we're seeing that a third of those renters are paying more than half their income every single year just to keep a roof over their head, making tough , impossible decisions about how to choose between food on the table or keeping a home.
our small landlords are certainly part of the solution to ensure that we can partner , keep people in their homes. city government needs to play a much more proactive role, directing resources to keeping people in their communities and ensuring that we are simplifying our processes so that we can build more affordable housing while our residents can stay and thrive. moderator: rebuttal? >> so i'm gonna say very clearly that councilor wu does not believe in the power of that small landlord. she wants to install rent control in this city, that will create further disinvestment in our city, that will keep rents high and push our city's residents further and further away from community, from job centers, from schools and from future opportunity. rent control is not the answer. it is not the fix to the challenge here in the city. and i'd like to understand how michelle will put rent control in place here in the city of boston and how she'll protect those small landlords that are such an important part of our city. moderator: response? >> we can't be afraid and listen
to scare tactics around what are -- what our residents need right now. you can knock on doors in any neighborhood in the city, you can go to any community meeting , and people are coming up to both of us saying how afraid they are, that they can't afford to stay in the communities they've helped build and grow. everything should be on the table when it comes to addressing our housing crisis, especially when it comes to addressing our crisis of displacement. we will do everything possible. i'll make sure as mayor that we're putting dollars into building affordable housing, using city owned buildings and land at more units, boost homeownership, simplify the process. but that's not enough, it's not enough to sit back and wait while families get pushed out. we need rent stabilization to keep people in their homes and address the emergency of displacement that is all across our city. moderator: go ahead. >> is there a difference between rent stabilization and rent control? i don't believe there is. it's an exercise that we have tried it it has failed here in the city of austin and some of the other places. we have to build more affordable
housing in the city. we have to create those direct pipelines to ownership in the city. and we as a city need to invest in down payment assistance and work with organizations to make sure that our city's residents are prepared to buy that first home and have the technical assistance to keep that first home. we also have to get to the conversation around wealth. our city has too many bostonians , and those are the ones that we hear from day in and day out , that have not been a part of the growth of this city. that's the work that we need to make sure that every one of our bostonians could put more money in their pocket. moderator: equal time. >> i'm gonna make sure as mayor that we are using every bit of power that we have in city government to address the challenges that our residents are facing, the burdens that are on the shoulders of our families. i was at georgetown homes in hyde park, standing with residents on the verge of eviction, trying their best to organize and not knowing if they
could seek the improvements they needed for health and safety and their apartments because they were so afraid of losing what they already had. it is not enough to simply dismiss policy because it's too complicated, or we were scared about what the unintended consequences might be. let's have that conversation, let's make sure that everything is on the table. there are cities and states across the country right now who are pairing rent stabilization in concert with many other tools. i will fight for boston to have everything that we need and at a at a minimum that includes keeping families in their homes. moderator: briefly. >> we today in the city of boston have an incredible office of housing stability that we need to make sure that each one of our city's residents has an opportunity to access the dollars are there and we've got federal funds coming in that i'm committed to investing in our communities to help our city's residents stay in their home. rent control, rent stabilization
is a state effort. this is about the city of boston. this is about our cities, people and the work that we will do together to create that affordable housing, create those pathways to ownership, protect our seniors and make sure that our families can call this place home. moderator: final word on this for now. >> fighting for what our city residents need means leaning into the ways that we are able not only to take action within city government but to partner with all levels of government. i'm proud of my track record of doing so, of working together with our state legislators, with federal legislators to push the conversation and to deliver resources right to our residents on housing, on transportation, on climate, on jobs. boston needs that partnership and now is the moment with resources coming for our recovery, with momentum and political will, to lean in and grab hold of those partnerships. that's why i'm so proud to have the support of so many of our partners in government because we all know that we're in this together. moderator: i want to get to another important issue before we reach the bottom of the hour. just a reminder, you are perfectly welcome to return to any one of these topics we've been discussing later on during
your open discussion time. you will go first. we did solicit questions from the public and a number of them came in. we hope to get to several. one question was submitted by a colleague and former competitors of yours, andrea campbell. "kids living in mattapan have only a 5% chance of getting into a high quality boston public school compared to other neighborhoods where it's as high as 80%. what specifically will you do to close that opportunity gap?" one minute, please. >> thank you so much to our our colic and sister in for all of her leadership and her passionate advocacy and leadership, particularly when it comes to fighting for our kids. this is an issue that my family is very personally invested in. my two boys are in boston public schools. i have walked that tightrope of what it feels like to try to register for the right places and wait for the lottery. this is my second round as a bps mom having raised my younger
, sister as her legal guardian through middle school and high school as well. we need to ensure that in this mecca of education, those resources, those opportunities are connecting with each of our young people. i'll ensure that there are improvements to our school assignment process that reflect equity. but more importantly that we are investing in each one of our seats. we need to close the gap for early education and childcare, deliver universal pre-k so that our kids have the brightest start. we need to wrap around services with the children's cabinet that will ensure that we are delivering everything that our families need. rebuild our crumbling facilities, ensure health and safety inspiring places to learn ,, and last but not least really , focus on vocational education so we are connecting young people to the jobs in our city. moderator: one minute. >> so michelle has done a great job listing the problems that we face in the boston public schools. as a former classroom teacher, as the chair of education as a bps graduate and parent of four
bps students, i know the work that we need to do to get it all done. it is certainly thinking about the $1.3 billion we spend on our education system and how each one of those dollars is invested in a child. it's about grade reconfigurations. high school redesign, fixing our special education services, especially our sub separate classrooms that disproportionately impact children of color. and it's also about early literacy. we need a strong early literacy program curriculum across all of our schools so that every school is high quality, that every experience is high quality, that there is no risk that you send your child to a less than good enough school. good enough as it relates to our education system, as it relates to my responsibility as a parent , is not good enough. as a teacher, i know how to do this work. we want to fix the boston public schools. hire a teacher. i will get it done. moderator: as we move into the open discussion, councillor campbell specifically referenced mattapan where she lives. why has mattapan been getting the short end of the stick? >> mattapan and so many of our
communities need additional resources. i've done the work as a member of the city council to make sure that each of our schools has a full-time nurse, that each of our schools now has a full time clinical social worker. that each of our schools gets the resources it needs to support our kids. it is unfortunate when any community goes without that experience for each and every one of our children. moderator: go ahead. >> i've visited every single boston public high school and sat for hours with our school leaders, students, educators, school communities. and what you realize is that the gaps in our system, the disparities are heart breakingly huge. you can feel as soon as you set foot into one of our schools, how resourced it is because the quality of the buildings, whether the lights work, whether there are shades on the windows already corresponds to the , resources that our young people are getting and our educators are getting when it comes to academic supports and everything else. we need equity to drive a vision of our schools and we need stability and a plan that truly believes in the power of our public schools to make a
difference in families's lives. in mattapan for example, we have seen schools shut down against the wishes of community members. we have seen advocacy from community that has not been heard. i'll make sure that our schools and our seats are in the right places for access across every single one of our neighborhoods. put boston public schools mom in charge of our city. we will see some differences. moderator: response? >> i agree. put a boston public schools mom in charge and we will see a difference. add a teacher to that resume and we've got a recipe for true success. when we think about our schools making sure that those resources , are spent wisely and that we're utilizing not just a billion dollars that we've just invested in facilities, that will touch 10 schools that we , are utilizing the infrastructure dollars coming in from the federal government into our boston public schools. yes we have a crumbling school facilities. infrastructure. yes we have work to do around our transportation budget and making sure that that $137
million that we spend on transportation is invested in student facing services. we've got a great deal of work to do. so much of that i have started as a member of the city council . work that we have achieved that we've gotten done. the task list is long. put a teacher and a mother in charge and we will get that done. moderator: do you hear something you want to respond to? >> i'll just add that we can talk about big picture policies in the schools. we can talk about all the structural changes that we need. but at the end of the of the day , when your kids are in the school system, it is the little details that sometimes can have the biggest impact. that feeling of anxiety you feel when it is 80, 90 degrees outside and you're trying to fill up the water bottles to send them off to school because you know that the water fountains don't work in the school, or worrying about whether a bus might come on time , if at all. we need to get the operations right so that we can do all of the rest of it as well. moderator: i've got to take our break but i have time for one word answers. just yes or no question.
do you have confidence in the current superintendent? >> i'll make sure that the mayor and superintendent partner together. >> i have confidence in the superintendent in partnership with me as mayor. moderator: candidates, take a breath, take a sip of water. after a short break we will continue for those of you watching us on wbz tv. we invite you to continue watching on cbs in boston. just had to our website. we'll be back. ♪ welcome back to the first boston mayoral debate. we continue now here on cbs in boston, wbz news radio 1030 and c-span. candidates, in a new poll, 71% of black voters and 61% of latino voters said reforming the boston police was a major
priority. but 65% of black voters and 63% of latino voters also said getting tougher on crime was a major priority. we will start with you. give us a specific example of how you plan to meet both of those needs at the same time. >> well, i think it's actually one of the most important responsibilities that i have as mayor of this city. we need to ensure that our city is a safe city and a just city . that work is incredibly important. we need to make sure that we have a police department and the public safety agency that is responding to the needs of our city's residents, but that it is also transparent, that it is also accountable, that it is also diverse and reflective of the city it serves. that is central to my work that -- my work. that has been central to my message, although some of that gets left out of of many conversations. we've got so much work to do to
fulfill what i call the promise of community policing, where our communities, our community based organizations, our city's residents are in partnership with our police department and that they are present, that they are engaged, that they are doing the very important work of keeping our city safe. i believe in investing in public safety, not defunding our public safety agency and the work that we need to do as a city. moderator: one minute. >> as you mentioned, our residents are very concerned and what boston needs right now is solutions be it -- solutions. not soundbites, not scare tactics. we need to make sure that we are doing the work in community, and i've been proud to lead the work on the council of ensuring that our crisis response focuses on the public health as a major way that we are leaning into safety. i am the caregiver for a mother who lives with mental illness. i have been in the situations with loved one as the police were called in an episode of mental illness and to feel the
, terror standing next to her of what might go wrong in an instant with an armed law enforcement officer. begging to make sure that she went to the hospital instead of the police station. we need to ensure that our resources are being spent in the right way, delivering services our residents need. we need that public health led response. we need accountability when it comes to budget as well as misconduct. we need transparency across our department. i will ensure that the choice of the new police commissioner is one that will deliver urgently on reforms that are needed to the structures, the culture of our department, and get going right away on that underlying barrier that holds much of this back. negotiating a new police union contract. moderator: all right. i just want to clarify something before you move on. you mentioned defunding the police, that's a very charged term. are you saying that's what you perceive your opponent as calling for? >> yes. moderator: go ahead. >> so very first, i'd like to say that michelle has not led on
the reforms that are necessary, especially as it relates to a mental health response for our boston police department in responding to the needs of our city's residents. when i joined the council in 2016, there were two best clinicians associated with this work. i worked with our former colleague to ensure that there are four. two cycles ago, i work to ensure that there are 19 clinicians doing the very important response of assisting our city's residents in need. this has impacted the experience at mass and cast. we still have a great deal of work to do in mass and cast especially as it relates to women who are victims of violence. there's still a great deal of work we need to do and expanding the best clinicians across the boston police department in partnership with bmc, but that is the work that i've led on as a member of the boston city council. i will also say we don't need to wait for a new commissioner to put in place the reforms that have been recommended by the boston police task force.
that accountability task force has recommendations that are in place today, waiting for implementation on day one with or without a commissioner. we can put those recommendations in place and i am committed to doing that. moderator: equal time. >> i am grateful for the counselors leadership and advocacy to make sure that we have grown the number of clinicians and was proud to support those efforts, but going from 2 to 19 clinicians, when we have hundreds of thousands of residents across the city needing services, calling for crisis response, that often includes situations that we are not delivering the right services. we need to be fearless in reaching for the scale of change that our residents deserve. there have been far too many headlines about how deeply we need reforms when it comes to policing in boston. i will ensure that this city continues to lead the way in demanding justice and healing and doing so in partnership with community. that means leaning in on the pilot that i'm proud to see mayor janey already moving
forward for a co response model for response that centers mental health clinicians and crisis response. but the bottom line is that the task force's recommendations echo the audit of the police department conducted many years ago, which echo the demands of our residents over decades and generations. what has been holding us back is political will to see changes at the scale that we need. i'm the only candidate who has put forward a specific plan on how to negotiate that collective bargaining contract that will embed accountability and transparency. moderator: well, let me ask you for a clarification. i'm sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you. is there a serious difference between your position and that of your opponent? >> there are differences. this is a big difference when it comes to the vision for how public safety and public health in the city will move forward. we have had many votes on the city council where the two of us have been on different sides, of
whether we are moving towards reforms that build trust and bring people into the conversation, ensure that we are not pitting safety against justice, and this is a situation where we need to lean into the scale of change unafraid of what our residents deserve. moderator: go ahead. >> so i'm not sure whether michelle answered the question regarding defunding the police, but what i will say is the co response model that is in place today that has been championed by the acting mayor is a product of my work on the boston city council. we have those co responders in place today, we have the crisis intervention training in place today because of my work on the city council. that has created an opportunity for me to understand that work very clearly and to be able to lead on that work as mayor. again, we do not have to wait for these reforms. it is up to the mayor to get it done and i will starting day one as mayor of this great city. moderator: a final word and that i want to move on. >> i've had many conversations with mayor janey and colleagues and proud to have the mayor's endorsement and support in this
race to continue building on what the city has been doing. this is an issue where other cities are ahead of us, where cities around the country have started to have a response to create a different response to crisis that centers public health. not only slowly growing something that we have been working on here, but truly delivering the services that are -- at our residents need, which would not only help us meet people where they're at, but also reflect more responsible budget and use of resources so we can free up our resources in the ways that our residents actually need. moderator: all right, go ahead. >> i have one more thing to say. it was last year's budget which we had a critical vote that counselor wu voted against. if that budget failed, we would have lost 43 emts and paramedics which are so critical to our , response here in the city of boston in the middle of a , pandemic when people are sick, people are not well, people are afraid and in crisis.
those paramedics and emts are also a very important partner in that co response model. if we want these activities, these actions, these decisions to succeed, we need to invest in them. it takes money, it takes dollars and it takes decisive decisions to make it happen. moderator: that was a very specific claim that begs a response. >> that's simply not true. again, we don't need scare tactics in the city of boston. we don't need false choices that pit our residents against each other or underestimate what is possible for this city. we need to be leading the way in ensuring that we are getting to the root causes of violence in our communities and ensuring that we are building trust with community members when it comes to safety and healing and public health. i will make sure that everyone is part of this conversation, sees themselves reflected and that we are moving in the direction with urgency on what we need to change. moderator: i will give you 15 seconds. >> that urgency for me is day one of my administration. we have to put those recommendations into place. if we truly want greater accountability, greater transparency and greater
diversity within the boston police department and we have to , commit to the men and women who are doing the very important work, especially as it relates to ems, especially as it relates to mental health clinicians in this city and doing such amazing work. moderator: the same for you if you want it. >> we have seen differences in votes between the two of us on the stage, we have seen differences in approach when it comes to how we should fund and move forward. i am fighting for a vision of public safety and health in boston that goes to the root causes of what our communities need in partnership with each one of our residents. moderator: you both mentioned this question of whether or not police should be responding to what are essentially mental health calls. uh, and this next question is kind of related to that. we received a number of suggested questions from viewers about quality of life issues ranging from loud late night parties to unsafe trash dumping , to dangerous behavior by dirt
bikers, atv's and bicyclists. what's wrong with the status quo of how the city deals with these kinds of issues and what exactly are you going to do to change it? one minute please. >> in many of these situations it shouldn't be armed law enforcement officers who are responding to the situation. we need a response for community members but moving towards a , public health led approach, moving towards a community uh de -- community de-escalation, trained approach will ensure that we are freeing up resources and policing to where we really need those resources. you can talk to residents across our communities and hear that response times often aren't what residents need and and doesn't inspire confidence that the police force is necessarily waiting and ready to respond in the way that that our residents deserve. and so we need to ensure that we are directing our dollars to the right places. we need to invest more in the in the system of public safety and public health together. but that means very being very intentional about how our
resources are used, and especially to look at those instances where we could be freeing up our resources and allocating them much more efficiently. moderator: one minute. >> i am committed as mayor of the city to do that very important work around quality of life issues here in the city of boston. when we think about some of the challenges that each one of our neighbors are facing, whether family, whether young person, whether one of our senior citizens, we have so much work to do in each one of our neighborhoods to provide the appropriate response. when family members, when loved ones, when our city's residents, old and young are calling 911, they are looking for help. they are not looking for a delayed response. we need to make sure that our police department, we need to make sure that our mental health providers, we need to make sure that our 311 call center is equipped to respond to the needs of our city's people. and too often, if our city's residents are waiting and waiting, it has turned into a crisis. we need to make sure that we are protecting the well being and
safety of all of our city's residents during that time. moderator: rebuttal. >> investing our resources in the right ways means being proactive about these issues and not just having a reactive approach in city government. in many cases, it is too late by the time someone calls, if we could have helped avoid a situation with housing being lost or a mental health situation, getting intense. we need to be providing mental health supports for our residents across the city. with every bit of the infrastructure that we're touching people's lives. through our schools, through our community health centers, through public housing. boston should be wrapping our residents around with services. that is the bread and butter of what it means to be in city government, that you don't have to choose between getting it right at the ground level for the day to day needs of our residents and ensuring we're getting to tackle systemic root causes equal time. -- causes. moderator: equal time. >> i want to say, boston needs to wrap those services around its people. that is what i have done as a
city council. i've worked to ensure that we are supporting our community health centers on the longest serving member on the board of directors for dot house health and i'm grateful for that , opportunity to serve in that capacity. i have done the work to make sure that we have mental health supports in each one of our boston public schools. i am doing the work to make sure that we have a mental health co-response when a family member is calling 911 for help. and through that effort, i've also worked to make sure that we have a clinician in the 911 call center that is trained to respond for our high utilizes of 911 to be more proactive. we can talk about the work or we can do the work. i am committed to doing the work that i have led on as a member of the city council. moderator: i'm going to again exercise my discretion to step in here because i think this kind of veered off into a different discussion than the question raised. we're talking about quality of life issues. you both know the broken windows theory of community policing, that if a window gets broken on a block and you let it stay broken, it can lead to further deterioration and crime on that block.
if there's calls on a summer night about, you know, gangs of kids on dirt bikes, keeping people awake and terrorizing the residents of the city, let's start with you. will the mayor wu exert a zero tolerance policy on these? what will you do differently? >> look, here's another example of how we can't be reacting to a situation where our systems in fact have already failed. the city of boston has buildings, we have services, we have resources, we should be making sure that our young people have somewhere to go to safely have fun into the night. there are buildings and community centers that don't close at 3:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., but that we are putting resources into partnering with community led organizations to ensure that we are building those spaces and building community. because ultimately, that is what the root causes of violence of safety are, is connecting our residents with opportunity and making sure that we are giving our young people every possible
chance. >> i think it's also important for the mayor of this city, the chief executive of the city, the leader of the city to also do the little things that maybe aren't considered broad vision or big goals or fancy. we need to fill potholes, we need to repair sidewalks. we need to make sure the trash gets picked up and the lights get turned on every single evening. that we are fulfilling not just the basic city services, which lead to a high quality of life in this city, but that we are responding quickly in doing that work. it's not fancy, but it's important. moderator: briefly, please. >> each one of our plans that we've put out comes from the little details that are affecting people's lives and that are stressing boston residents across the city. when i talk about a boston green new deal, that means doubling the number of street trees in boston so that we are providing temperatures that are livable,
that we are cleaning the air. when i talk about a green new deal, it's shifting to electric school buses to get diesel pollution out of the lungs of our young people in our neighborhoods. this is about the day to day that we can only fix if we're actually getting to the scale of where the issues are across the city. moderator: all right, let's move on to another issue again, we're talking about city services and to some extent, we're talking about finances and how to pay for all this. each year, the city of boston asks for voluntary payments in lieu of taxes from tax exempt local institutions that benefit from city services. but the response falls well short of the the voluntary goals the city sets. the most recent report shows out of 22 schools and colleges, the city asked for payments, only three paid 100% of the requested amount, more than half paid 68% or less and three paid zero. is that good enough for you?
and if it isn't, what will you do to squeeze more out of them? >> there is a commercial sometimes on that talks about is that good enough? that is not good enough. that's why over the course of this campaign, i've made a few promises that i am able to keep, and one of those promises is in my first 100 days, i will reconvene the pilot task force that hasn't been brought together in over 10 years to renegotiate that payment lieu of taxes, to reevaluate property values, to make sure that they are fulfilling the commitment to community benefits in a way that includes community discussion and work and that we are looking at jobs. our city's residents need access to the workforce, need access to employment, need access to to hi, -- high livable wages in , this city. and i want our nonprofit partners, our institutions in the city and cultural institutions to do that work. that's why i've committed in
that first 100 days to bring them together to do that. >> i fully agree that we need accountability for our large partners across the city and that conversations about paying a fair share and chipping in for resources, especially when there's tremendous pressure on housing in the city, when we don't see enough on campus student housing and other conversations need to be direct and need to be immediately. -- the immediate. i want to point out that there are many, many resources that we're leaving on the table when we don't have a proactive vision for how city government should be pushing and leading the charge. in my time on the council, we passed legislation that would ensure that the money that the city's bidding, the contract dollars on the order of $660 million dollars a year, that this would be equitably spent going to locally owned , businesses, going to businesses owned by black and brown entrepreneurs. we have already started to partner with hospitals and universities to ensure that the spending that these neighbors and large anchor institutions are doing also reflects and feeds into that vision so that we can just multiply the impact
these institutions -- the impact. these institutions are not only providing services like healthcare and education. they are employers in the city, they are spending money in our economy. we need to make sure that there is a vision where we can all work together. moderator: rebuttal, briefly. >> we also need to make sure they're inviting our kids for admission. i had the honor to attend boston university for free because my dad was a security guard there. as an immigrant, he came to this country looking for opportunity for himself and for his children and that opportunity to work , there so that his children could attend that university was a tremendous benefit to me and our family. it's also important to make sure that my dad, that employees at boston university and any institution like my dad don't , have to work doubles to put food on the table for their families. we need to make sure that it's not entry level jobs and implement opportunities, that it is mid-level executive and leadership. >> this is an opportunity right
now as we are reshaping our economy as we're thinking about , the future for each one of our institutions to be partners. we need to have conversations for example, as changes are , happening in boston it was , years of advocacy and conversation with our large institutions there that have finally led to a decision to take down that highway structure that had been dividing our communities and keeping people apart, committing to funding a more sustainable, more livable way of transportation and connecting communities. that needs to be the conversation where the mayor of boston isn't just sitting back and leaning in to ask for payments now and then, but ensuring that we're having that larger conversation about how we grow together as a city. moderator: alright, i do want to move on here and try to fit in one more question. we'd be remiss i think if we didn't mention of the pandemic that's been smothering our economy and frightening many bostonians. according to city health officials, 72% of city residents have had at least one dose of
the covid vaccine, 65% are fully vaccinated. to reach the relative safety of so-called herd immunity, we need to be, it is estimated, up around 85%. we're not even close. eileen writes in with a question, "are you satisfied that we're doing everything we can to reach herd immunity level, and if not, what are you going to do about it?" >> thank you, eileen. this is this is continuing to be a top urgent priority. we are still very much in the midst of a global pandemic and i have spoken out forcefully that we need to ensure every possible place we're providing , protections for our workers and for the general public. especially as we're getting close to seeing the vaccine approved for younger children. our boston public schools must be that platform where we are reaching every single family from all generations. using that bit of connection to community everywhere we can find it. again, through schools, through community centers, through public housing to ensure that we
, can close these gaps and make boston a city where our economy doesn't have to be pitted against public health because we are ending this pandemic. >> i agree very much with michelle there. we need to meet our city's residents where they are. we got to get shots in arms. we've got to make sure that the information and the education is shared widely and in culturally competent ways using the language is that our city's residents speak, and that we as a city are establishing pipelines of trust, communication, knowledge, information with our city's people and workforce to share how important this is if we are to keep our economy going. moderator: you both ok with this week's suspension without pay of dozens of city workers who failed to meet the deadline for getting a vaccine? >> we need to ensure that city government is not just protecting our general public and constituents and our workers, but setting the tone for what it means to have that accountability.
we will ensure that we're closing that gap and moving quickly to help support city workers and all community members who still need to be vaccinated. one example of how to do so is really partnering with community led organizations. the black boston covid 19 coalition has done an amazing job ensuring that we were closing gaps in some of our communities that had the greatest burden from covid-19. that should continue to be the model that we are leaning in not only with requirements, but to supporting community. moderator: equal time. >> i want to say i'm disappointed and hopeful that we can get through that number. just over 800 city employees who have not yet been vaccinated. but i want to use this moment in time to thank the men and women who work for the city of boston , who have been on the front line, who have been present, who have been engaged, and who have been doing the very important work during what's been a terribly scary time. as mayor, i will work with you to make sure that we have open lines of communication, that we have opportunities to discuss
what worries you, and that we can work together to establish the trust necessary to make sure that you are doing all you can to be healthy. i want you back to work. i want you back engaged with our city's residents. i want you back providing the critical services that you do every single day. we need you vaccinated, we need you back to work. moderator: all right. we don't have a ton of time left, but i'm going to squeeze one more, because i am the moderator and i can. we will start with you. was marty walsh a good mayor, a bad mayor or somewhere in between and what will be the , biggest difference between your mayoralty and his take -- and his? take about 45 seconds. >> i think mayor and now secretary walsh was a good mayor, especially thinking about the end of his time leading this city through a pandemic, through an uncertain time, through scary times. what i bring that's very different from marty walsh to the table is my 13 years of experience in the classroom, my work building a business, my
efforts as a member of the city council leading on issues like family homelessness. there's so much work we have to to do -- to do, to continue, and i look forward to doing that as mayor. moderator: same question. >> mayor walsh is a strong leader for our city and we are also excited to see that boston is represented with his leadership at the federal level. over the last decade, boston has seen tremendous pressures going on our residents. the housing crisis, the pandemic jobs, transportation system, our , schools. i will make sure that we are not just continuing to take baby steps towards where we need to go, but lean into the power the city government has to bring everyone into the conversation and deliver on the scale of changes, the bold changes that we need in this city for this generation, but for future generations as well. moderator: candidates, thank you both. that concludes tonight's debate . and now a reminder to all of you who vote in the city of boston . early voting begins on saturday
, october 23, and runs through friday, the last day to apply october 29. for a mail in ballot is wednesday, october 27. you can drop off those ballots in any city of boston dropbox up until 8:00 p.m. on election day, november 2. the polls are open from 7:00 until 8:00. cast your vote and then watch it count. thank you