Alex attended Boston College for his B.A. in English, before beginning his career in Sacramento, where he worked as an Associate advocating for permanent housing solutions for the homeless in Northern California. He returned to Boston to receive his J.D. from Suffolk University, and subsequently worked in the legal department for the City of Boston. Alex served as a Policy Analyst in the offices of Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh. He is currently a Senior Policy Manager in the Mayor’s Office for Workforce Development. If elected to city council, Alex will be Boston’s first-ever blind City Councilor, and one of two blind City Councilors in the United States.
Boston Candidate Science Survey Response
Below are the survey responses from the candidate. To ensure the candidate’s voice comes through to the voters, the content of the answers are unedited.
Technology + Society
As the City uses more advanced technology to monitor city services and communicate with residents, how will you ensure citizens’ privacy rights as increasing numbers of monitoring devices are installed around the city? What will you do to make sure that the data collected will be used for the benefit of all Bostonians?
As a city, we must strike a balance between investing in modern technology to monitor services and communicate, while also ensuring that we are protecting the privacy rights of residents. I believe there should be an independent audit of the data to make sure that none of the information collected is in breach of privacy or used for any reasons beyond monitoring services and conveying communications. The city must be held accountable for any violations of the trust residents have placed in them.
What are your policy priorities to address the ongoing climate crisis? How will you ensure climate resiliency projects are distributed equitably among communities, especially in low-income neighborhoods? What are your policy priorities to protect areas of the city that are vulnerable to sea level rise (i.e. South Boston, Back Bay, Downtown, East Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, Seaport)?
The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing our city. We must fight the crisis while centering the communities that will be the most impacted. By investing in renewable energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and our greenhouse gas emissions, and funding quality and clean public transportation, we can reduce some of the main pollutants to our environment. In terms of the area’s most vulnerable to sea level rise, we should be sure to center the voices of the residents of these communities, and ensure that we are protecting their land, businesses, and homes.
What are your policy priorities to protect areas that are vulnerable to increased temperatures during the summer months due to the urban heat island effect? Given that trees and an urban canopy have been shown to mitigate excess heat, how would you support the implementation of the Urban Forest Plan for Boston?
The Urban Forest Plan is a strong step in the right direction to combatting the urban heat island effect. We must plant more trees to create an urban canopy and protect areas from increased temperatures. I would support the implementation of the plan and ensure that it has adequate funding and staffing to make it as effective as possible.
What should the role of science and scientists be in government, policy, and decision-making? How does science fit into your agenda for Boston?
Scientists are important members of our society. They provide answers to problems that desperately need to be solved. As a city councilor, I would be sure to listen to scientists, especially when they are sharing facts that are difficult to face. I believe that city policies must be based in science, whether it comes to climate, health, or anything else. I will do my best to always get my information straight from experts and pass it on directly to my constituents.
Misinformation has been cited as one of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy against the COVID-19 virus. How do you propose the City improve messaging in order to promote science-based actions and combat misinformation, not just for COVID-19, but also broadly?
In order to combat misinformation, there are a few things that the city of Boston should do. First of all, we must make sure the voices of scientists and medical experts are heard. That means that we must amplify their voices by holding press conferences and making public service announcements. We also must call out misinformation wherever we see it, whether that be on social media, from elected officials, or from members of the community. We can do that by making sure residents have access to accurate information from reliable sources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted disparities in healthcare access for different neighborhoods in Boston. As of June 29, 2021, we know that only 38% of residents in Mattapan were fully vaccinated compared to over 70% of South End residents. How can ideas about distributing vaccines, challenging misinformation related to healthcare, and tackling language barriers be applied more broadly to form a more equitable healthcare system? What policy changes should be made to both prevent and respond to future pandemics or health crises in a more effective way?
The disparities in healthcare across both the county and the city, have only become clearer in the midst of the pandemic. We must work with and empower community leaders to educate their fellow residents on the safety of vaccines and combat misinformation more broadly. In order to prevent future pandemics, we should invest money in global health systems, knowing how interconnected our world is. We also must make sure that our health care system has the resources it needs to respond to crises, such as PPE, ventilators, and adequate ICU beds. In responding to future health crises, we must have consistent public health messaging, and center the voices of scientists and doctors.
How, if at all, has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your positions on education policies? What should the City’s role be in ensuring public schools are equitably funded and serve the needs of our children?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on glaring gaps in our education system. Many students were not able to receive the same education as their classmates, due to a lack of technology, support system, or other familial responsibilities that took away from their school time. Moving forward, we must work hard to ensure that schools receive proper funding to provide their students with the resources they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom.
Boston’s technology, innovation, and scientific research ecosystem has long made it a hub that attracts a diverse group of people and talent from around the world. How can the city maintain and foster its international status as a technological hub and attract immigrant scientists to strengthen the diversity, culture, and economic activity of Boston?
Immigrants make our city stronger and are a vital part of our technological and scientific ecosystem. In order to maintain our international status, we must make our city as welcoming as possible to people from other countries. This includes creating a pathway to citizenship and visas and providing resources to people in their native languages.
What is your plan to strengthen the Boston scientific research and technology enterprise to benefit our economy? How can you ensure that the economic benefits of investing in science and technology reach all Bostonians?
Investments in science and technology benefit everyone in Boston. We should ensure that universities in the city have funding for their research and make sure private scientific and technological businesses are also able to thrive in the city. We can ensure that these businesses reach all Bostonians by providing incentives for companies to hire residents in the city, and investing the tax revenue from these gains back into our local economy.
Food + Agriculture
What policies do you propose for the City to maximize land use in the city for green spaces and community access to gardens or farms? How can your administration bring more transparency to this process and connect community groups to the resources they need to support sustainable urban farming?
Green spaces and community gardens are important tools that benefit all of our residents. We can increase access to these by making sure they exist in every neighborhood of the city, and are accessible by public transportation. We can bring more transparency to the process by having community meetings and discussions with residents on a regular basis, taking their input and feedback and putting it to action.