^ Jeff Ross ; has impressed a lot of activists already

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We met at-Large Council candidate Jeff Ross at Club Cafe, where a short while after our interview, he attended an affair for Marty Walsh and was introduced to the gathering.

This is what candidates for Boston’s four at-Large Council seats are doing, as often and as diversely as they can. Even as a veteran worker in Boston political campaigns, Ross must do the same, and as a practiced campaigner, he knows it. He’s also ready with detailed, though usually succinct, answers to the several questions that we ask of Council candidates. Not surprising that he has gained much good press in Boston’s media.

He currently holds office, as the Democratic State Committeeman representing the State Senate seat now held by Sonia Chang-Diaz. (All elected State Committee members are elected by State Senate District at the Presidential Primary every fourth year.) He lives in the South End part of Chang-Diaz’s district — in Ward 9, Precinct 2, for political junkies — and, as he tells us, is “the first LGBT person elected to the State Committee from this district.”

He will also, if elected an at-large Councillor, be (to the best of our knlowledge),the first LGBT person to hold that Boston office.

As he represents one of Massachusetts’s most progressive-voting Senate Districts, he too holds progressive views. But the range of campaigns that he has worked on these past seven years — Ayanna Pressley, Felix G. Arroyo, Gloria Fox, for example — has taken him to old-line politics (Fox) and business-oriented mainstream (Pressley) as well.

“I have lived in Boston for 20 years,” Ross tells me. “I grew up on the West Coast in a working class a family; my Mom worked for minimum wage; often we used an oven to heat our house.

“I was the first in my family to go to college. I was on the waiting list at U(niversity of) Penn(sylvania) but got into Northeastern. So to Boston.”

Ross’s bio answers Here and Sphere’s standard first question, “what about you uniquely qualifies you to be a City Councillor ? Thus we proceeded directly to our other usual questions.

Here and Sphere (HnS): What can you do as a Councillor to advance your concerns for the working wage that some have proposed ?

Ross : “We can propose home rule petitions and testify for them at the State House. I have testified at legislative hearings. I’m ready to do it again.”

HnS : Do you support Ayanna Pressley’s Home Rule petition (to give Boston control over its own liquor licenses) ?

Ross : “I do support it. Some neighborhoods have too many licenses, some too few. The point is to create destination neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods need supermarkets … that are within walking distance for people who go about on foot.”

HnS : Abolish the BRA or reform it ?

Ross : “reform it. Development should be neighborhood-driven. They should include affordable housing.”

HnS : Lift the charter school cap or not ?

Ross : “If we’re going to lift the cap it should be an innovation type of school, a school free of state-mandated curriculum. For the lowest-testing twenty percent of schools I support after-school programs in art, music and woodcraft. These help (a kid) to reconnect. And innovation around sports, because (these kids) need more student interaction.”

HnS : Do you favor an Elected school committee, as some are now proposing ?

Ross : “I do not support an elected school committee. The schools have improved a lot under the appointed committee

HnS : You live in the new Boston, thus we have to ask ; do you favor late night transport and a later closing hour than the current two A.M. ?

Ross : “(of course) there’s the need to extend the cloing hoyfrs in he Downtown area, Financial District, and Waterfront. The concern in other neighborhoods is the noise, though. Late night transport, yes; people who work late in the buildings need a way to get home.”

HnS : Do you agree with something Marty Walsh said, that there’s a heroin epidemic in the city ?

Ross : “There is an uptick in ‘STI’ and (as we know) Molly. And heroin (too). We need public health education in the schools, plus, (better) outreach to families. We need to have these conversations with young people. it gets back to what I said about early evaluations and early intervention as treatment and recovery. I have a family member, same age as me, who died (like that) and who needed that sort of social safety net…”

And so ended the Q and A, and both of us joined the Marty Walsh affair beginning in the next room. Jeff Ross to campaign, we to be the newsie in the room.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere