Eric Porter is running for City Councilor in District 9. He grew up in the metro Detroit Area and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California before moving to Allston, almost 25 years ago. He has worked owned businesses in many different industries, including a call center and a closed captioning company.
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?
The city will be monitoring services but more importantly monitoring the citizens themselves. I am a strong advocate for privacy, and would examine how this data is being used and raise a red flag to make people aware of any violations of privacy that I see. It is unrealistic to suggest the data will benefit ALL Bostonians, if someone is committing a crime, and the technology is used to stop the crime, clearly this would not benefit the criminal.
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)?
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 climate concern has been trifurcated so a more specific question would need to be made.
You would have to cite which “climate resilience projects” you are referring to.
I don’t believe there is scientific evidence to support that climate concern/crisis targets low income neighborhoods as you are suggesting, nor would the distribution of such projects equitably be neglecting such areas. Generally a municipality would implement a pan-neighborhood plan to ensure the whole city would benefit from environmental projects. However, once implemented it would make sense to evaluate each neighborhood to see if specific support would be needed to help with implementation/adoption in that community.
As a city councilor for Allston-Brighton, I will not be representing the coastal neighborhoods but would would support fellow councilors that do.
What should the role of science and scientists be in government, policy, and decision-making? How does science fit into your agenda for Boston?
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?
I support empirical decision making which would be based on science rather than emotional decision making. I think supporting decisions with facts are extremely important and as Boston has a massive breadth of sciences at its disposal, the incorporation of such is a huge advantage. To be able to reach out to the community to get: research, data, white papers, science studies, etc. is extremely powerful.
You would have to be specific about which “misinformation” you are referring to. The misinformation ranges from unfounded hypothetical antigovernmental conspiracy theories to medical doctors providing their research as opposing views. If “misinformation” is anything you do not agree with, than I am a bit concerned with your definition and declaration. It’s not science if we can’t reasonably question it.
But in fairness to science and complete disclosure of this question, a proper scientist would acknowledge these several options for anti-covid-19 shot options: only one is a vaccine and the others are mRNA gene therapies (as I understand it); all of which are currently still experimental and not approved by the FDA. So a science minded person could accuse your question as having “misinformation” in it.
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?
This question make a massive non-scientific assumption that there is a correlation between socioeconomic conditions and the ability and/or willingness to take the therapies for Covid-19. I personally take offensive that you are accusing my fellow Boston Government and private healthcare workers of neglecting a neighborhood because of socioeconomic conditions without the data to support it. I wager that any interested person in Mattapan could have as easily gotten a shot as someone in the South End. Additionally you have a clearly bifurcated socioeconomic class in South End due to the large number of subsidized housing there, which could be studied to prove (or disprove) that socioeconomic and/or geographic conditions playing a roll in the acceptance of covid-19 therapies for an equal (not “equitable”) playing field.
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 pandemic has made me reconsider the Prussian school model that we have been using for only 100-150 years to consider new approaches in education especially in the light of new technologies and the roll that adults will be taking on in the future as employees. I think we are going to see some massive changes and opportunities for eduction.
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?
It saddens me that you ask about immigration rather than encouraging local students to excel in STEM programs. The H1B visa program as well as school recruiting internationally are accommodating the overseas science population extremely well. But we are failing to develop our own students to flourish in the sciences. By definition as a city councilor, my job would be to represent the residents of Allston-Brighton, not overseas people. I challenge to you also represent the students and people of Boston and put greater effort into helping them develop and achieve employment in the sciences by making them your first concern and question. As a science minded person, I will put a great deal of time trying to point students in this important direction for their lives as well as the lives of the people around them.
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?
Allston-Brighton has some strong science development areas that will benefit from the science and act as incubators for new businesses. As a life long entrepreneur, I have a personal interest and a broad knowledge base for the development of companies. I would spend a great deal of time trying to help flourish this sector of our economy. The benefits for all of the residents are numerous from high paying jobs, to increase of disposable income going to the community, additional support for and from other business in the community all of which spreads across the community in the form of financial, education, and societal benefits.
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?
This is unfortunately posed as an assumptive question rather than open-minded discussion question. I do massively support green space and have fought for the last 4 years for it. However, it seems to be merely a talking point and not actually realized on a reasonable scale. With the approval of 11,000 new apartments, which seems to take priority over green space, we have very little improved green space and lost much preexisting green space.
I support urban farming, but before we promote urban farming we MUST promote education about raised beds and clean soil. Boston soil can be very polluted full of a wide range of hazardous things. I recently had a conversation with a leading New England environmental company about this topic to briefly familiarize myself with the basic DOs and DON’Ts related to using soil in Boston.
I am struggling to see where there is a lack of transparency on urban farming in the city, I find it hard to believe this information is being obfuscated for some reason. Promoting these programs and connecting groups would help flourish individuals use of land for productive food creation. I have grown food on my properties in Allston for 20+ years off and on.