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^ the Forum — candidates from L to R : Andrea Campbell; Charles yancey; Moderator; Charles Clemons; Tito Jackson

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Last night at least 250 voters showed up at Jubilee Church to hear the four candidates running in Boston’s only Council District contests. District 4 denizens heard from incumbent Charles Yancey and challenger Andrea Campbell. Council District 7 voters listened to challenger Charles Clemons and present Councillor Tito Jackson.

District 4 runs the length of Washington Street from Four Corners down to the Milton line and also takes in Harvard Street and a small, American Legion Highway bite of Roslindale. District 7 encompasses the entire 02119 portion of Roxbury, Blue Hill Avenue, and the Franklin Park-bordered neighborhood old timers call Elm Hill or “Sugar Hill.”

As i am writing for a Roxbury journal, I would like to report that Clemons and Jackson edified the campaign. The opposite was the case. all night long Clemons voiced positions –loudly — that are Jackson’s, constantly : better jobs and more of them for District 7 residents, a quota system so that at least 51 percent of jobs filled in local construction live in District; and “action, not talk.”

Jackson, for his part, has been the activist as well as the talker; but at the Forum, he talked, and not to advantage. To questions from the Forum moderator he gave responses inflammatory and as distorted of the facts as anything you’d hear at a GOP Presidential debate. It was difficult to hear him say that “charter schools steal money” from the City school budget and then, in the net breath say “I’m not against charter schools per se.”

Nor was it easy to listen as Jackson talked about how the Boston 2024 games bid — which he did much to wound — would have cost the city 13 billion dollars, a figure about three times higher than what even the anti-Games people cited during the 2024 debate.

For all his and Clemons’s railings at the evils of charter schools, they spoke not one word about the many non-profit education organizations — based in these two Districts, too — that every year get thousands of kids from Districts 4 and 7 from high school to employment. Nor did Clemons or Jackson seem to care that charter school cap lift is a pressing issue for school parents in District 4 especially. Do they never attend a Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative education conversation ? Were they unaware of the hundreds of parents of color who rallied at the state House a few days again support of charter school cap lift ? Jackson, at least, knows better. he attended College Bound’s graduation ceremony at the Bolling Building about three weeks ago.

Little wonder that audience member Ken Williams asked the candidates, “exactly what will you do to close the achievement gap ?”

From what was said, not much.

District 4’s two candidates performed much better. Campbell (whom i am supporting) and yancey gave well reasoned, authoritatively detailed answers to questions. Each made clear a very diufferebt vision of what the role of District Ciouncillor shoulod be. campbell sees her work as being constantyly on the move, talking to voters in her Distriuct all the time, bbringting them information aboytr what is going in around them “a week in advance, not just on the day before, as happens now.” Yancey listed his accomplishments : among them, building the Mildred Avenue Community Center and the Mattapan Branch Library (which, as he was glad to announce, is named after his formidable mother, Alice Yancey). “I will fight for you,” said Yancey.

Yancey also admitted a defeat : he has never been able to persuade a mayor to build a Mattapan High school. and, in answer to a charter school question, he cited that a larger percentage of public school graduates go to college than charter graduates : a talking point direct from the Citywide Parents Council that ignores the competitive nature of charter schools, from which many children drop out. This despite Yanc ey’s having been happy to attend the ribbon cutting for an expanded Codman academy scarcely two weeks ago.

Campbell, meanwhile, hinted at recognition or schools other than standard public. She certainly knows, having attended a Bottom Line fundraiser at Antico Forno in the North End a few months back. “poverty and race play a role in school underperfiormance in this District,” she said, “and we need to address that.” As an example, she cited the excellence of Worcester’s technology academy — a role model for what Governor Baker wants to bring to many big city school districts.

Campbell won the District 4 primary overwhelmingly; Yancey is playing a steep game of catch-up. Yet the two candidates aren’t making voters’ November choioce easy: both speak well and know their role.

The same, actually, can be said of the District 7 race ; two candidates who speak loudly and loosely with the facts, each given to showmanship — Clemons as “Brother Charles’ of 108 FM “Touch Radio,’ Tito Jackson as master of the “Tito dance,’ whose presence on youtube he mentioned and demonstrated. Perhaps it will go viral yet.

—- Mike reedberg / Roxbury Here

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