Kelly is a 25-year resident of Boston and her parents, formerly a Black public school teacher and an Irish news reporter, raised her in New York City and Boston. Kelly attended the State University of Albany for her B.A. in Africana Studies before matriculating to Boston University for her J.D. She worked with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute to reallocate $13 million to state nutrition funding and health care benefits for low-income families. Kelly then became a founding board member of Emerge Massachusetts, which trains and supports women running for political office. She also has worked as an adjunct professor at Tufts University and Northeastern University, and as a Director of the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement at Emerson College.
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?
One answer to this question is validating and creating boundaries for what this data will not be used for, namely police (unless involved in a specific criminal investigation) or ICE databases. We need to continue a community that respects privacy for the people of Boston. Additionally, I oppose any effort to collect data to be sold to companies to gather more information about consumers — whether this is monitoring which stores people frequent, schedules and habits of individuals, or anything else that can be sold to advertisers. Overall, I support the principles laid out in the Fair Information Practice Principles to navigate a new landscape of information and technology.
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 changing climate is a crisis, and we must act now. If elected, I will be sure that developing infrastructures to protect from the effects of climate change and reduce our carbon emissions are at the forefront. I support a city-wide green new deal that creates green jobs by investing in renewable energy infrastructure, promotes environmental justice, and fights rising sea levels, particularly in our low-income communities. I support making new city-owned construction net-zero carbon emissions and opposing all fossil fuel infrastructure projects. I support the Boston Emission Stand Policy and the Community Choice Energy Policy.
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?
I will fight for increasing green spaces and planting trees in urban areas, particularly in Chinatown, East Boston, Roxbury, the North End, Chinatown, Downtown, and other areas where there are heat islands. I would support the Urban Forest Plan by fighting for funding for the plan. This is about saving the lives of all future people in this city and across the world. I will work quickly and diligently.
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 need to be at the forefront of our vaccine, climate change, and health policies. They have the knowledge and expertise to lead the way for a better future. For any policy that I support as a City Councilor, I want metrics to analyze its effect on climate through an equity lens. I would also support the mayor hiring a staff person that speaks specifically to this need.
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?
York City, I would support Boston funding advertisements with doctors that educate the public about concerns with the vaccines. Additionally, we have to appreciate that communities of color in particular have hesitancy towards vaccines due to the history of this country. I believe, in addition to hiring scientists to develop this message, we should also ask community organizers to talk to the people close to them about the vaccine and why it is important. Misinformation is spread mostly from social media. We need to utilize social trust and have members of their community speak to their concerns in a real and honest manner.
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?
We should have vaccine distribution at churches, grocery stores, schools, workplaces, and more. We should make it easy for people to access the vaccine without taking time off of work, a privilege often not afforded to people working customer service jobs. We need to fund public information campaigns to educate people about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. Additionally, we should educate people on the harms that contracting COVID-19 can cause.
To prevent future pandemics or health crises, we should maintain the practice for hygiene and social distancing. We should continue to have hand sanitizer for people to use. We should encourage mask-wearing as a principle for protecting others, modeling after AAPI communities. However, I know I do not have all of the answers. This is another reason I support centering scientists in public health issues to listen to their advice and act in an efficient manner.
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?
As the mother of a student who attends BPS school, I understand how challenging this past year has been for families all over Boston. We need to ensure that our students are prepared for 21st century learning, including access to wifi and laptops/tablets so they can complete homework at home easily. I also support increasing programs and support for children for whom English is a second language. English Language Learners, or ELLs, might not have parents who are able to help with homework at home. We need to provide assistance for those students as well as acknowledge that being an ELL student is not a detriment but a huge asset. We need to encourage bilingual students by uplifting their use of their native language at home and in classrooms. Finally, we need to prepare for the mental toll this year has taken on students. We need to increase social workers in therapists in every school in Boston.
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?
We should preserve cultural touchstones in Boston like in Chinatown so immigrants can maintain a sense of community in a new city. We should have city sponsored holidays for Ramadan, Diwali, Chinese New Years, and more so people have an opportunity to celebrate their holidays away from family. We should continue to encourage employers in Boston to sponsor visas for immigrants so they can work here while waiting for citizenship.
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?
We need to emphasize placing investments in communities of color. Often times, innovation occurs in wealthier neighborhoods. However, we have an opportunity to fund innovation due to the federal income Boston received to combat this pandemic. We can work to ensure that the economic benefits of investing in science and technology benefits all Bostonians by measuring the impact that policies have on race, gender, and socio-economic status.
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?
We should continue to fund renovations of public areas so they are more green and friendly to the public as we are seeing with the renovations at City Hall. We should increase community gardening by encouraging people to use their yards to grow produce, and sponsoring areas where the public can grow produce together if they do not have access to a yard. We can distribute seeds for free at local libraries and sponsor classes on how to maintain a successful garden. This is an issue I look forward to learning more about through conversations with organizers and scientists.