Kendra is a first-generation Black Dominican woman and was raised in Jamaica Plain. As a high school student, Kendra founded the Beantown Society, a “by-youth, for-youth” organization. She attended Goddard College for her B.A. in Radical Urban Pedagogy, an independent study focused on developing alternative curriculum for young people affected by community violence and oppression. For the last five years, Kendra has served as the Director of Radical Philanthropy at the Boston-based organization Resist.
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?
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?
I have made environmental justice one of my top priorities. Here are the plans I have laid out.
We must defend our air, water, and land from toxic polluters and climate disruption. Low-income communities and communities of color have been (and continue to be) disproportionately exposed to and impacted by environmental racism. Our economic system, divestment from public transit, and how we build our cities all undermine the planet’s life support systems and make us, our families, and our neighbors sick. Environmental justice means building a just economy, safe and accessible public transit, and environmental regulation that keeps Boston’s most vulnerable communities healthy and at the center of decision-making. I commit to bringing an intersectional climate justice approach to undertake a just transition toward a regenerative and healthy city, for our sake and for that of future generations.
In Boston, three percent of our buildings are responsible for fifty percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If we want our city to be resilient in the face of climate change and arrive at our net-zero goal by 2050, we need to accelerate decarbonization by ensuring existing large buildings reach net-zero carbon emissions. I will update the BERDO ordinance to include the use of alternative compliance payments to subsidize small businesses, landlords, and Boston Housing Authority buildings to retrofit their facilities and get to net zero.
Design a Safety Plan for West Roxbury
West Roxbury is the site of a 750-psi natural gas pipeline and a crushed stone quarry, which puts a 30-block area within a deadly blast zone without an adequate safety plan. We need to ensure that families, children, schools, and businesses in this community are safe. This requires transparent reporting on air quality, heat release mapping, and the results of the safety procedures already in place. I am currently working with local community members to engage the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Fire Department, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to ensure we have all the information necessary to create a safety plan that fits the need.
Implement Traffic Calming Measures
Boston needs to prioritize road designs that benefit the environment and work for people walking, biking, driving, and using mobility devices. Making our neighborhoods safer and more walkable will positively impact our local economy and air quality by increasing foot trac and reducing carbon emissions from transportation, which make up 30% of total emissions statewide. The city’s plan to redesign Centre Street in West Roxbury is sound and balances the needs of the business community and abutting neighborhoods while prioritizing pedestrian safety. I will work to move this plan forward and collaborate with residents to determine the need for similar measures across the district.
Experiment with Car-Free Streets
Car-free districts allow micro-businesses to set up on sidewalks or in former parking spaces and become community spaces in neighborhoods where green space and other recreational facilities are scarce. West Roxbury has done this successfully with the Shannon Shootout and Jamaica Plain with World’s Fair in Hyde Square. I will work with the Boston Transportation Department to identify streets that could close on weekends or become woonerfs and to develop an implementation plan involving Main Streets and the Oces of Arts & Culture and Neighborhood Services.
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?
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?
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?
Justice in Education
We don’t have an opportunity gap; we have an education debt. Since this country’s founding, Black, brown, and Indigenous students haven’t had access to an equitable education. For generations, Boston Public Schools have been segregated, under-resourced, and under leadership that is not representative of the communities, it serves. For that, we owe our children an outstanding debt. All students are enriched by learning spaces that are racially and socioeconomically diverse, resource-rich, and centered on the needs of students, families, and educators. As your city councilor, I will fight on behalf of all students, families, and educators to make schools more just, joyful, and connected.
Prioritize Return to Elected School Committee
An elected school committee, one that is accountable to the people it represents, will better address the needs of schools, teachers, students, and families. It’s the fundamental change we need to ensure our school districts are equitable and thriving. I will work with Councilor Edwards to expand the scope of current city charter reform initiatives. If required, I will spearhead the home rule petition application to the state legislature. Until then, our student representative must be given equal status on the committee, including a vote and stipend.
Advocate for Baseline Budgeting
Our disparate student outcomes are directly related to the investments we make in our schools, but if we plan with intention, we can fully fund our schools with substantial, well-rounded resources. In addition to an equity-based allocation of funding, we should guarantee a baseline quality of education for every school, classroom, and child. I will advocate for a baseline budget to ensure every school has the resources necessary to implement full inclusion, incorporate ethnic studies, and hire librarians, counselors, and full-time nurses.
Disrupt The School to Prison & Deportation Pipeline
By signing the Trust Act in 2014, Boston made a commitment to immigrant communities. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) ‘s ongoing utilization and the coordination between Boston Public Schools, the Boston Police Department, ICE, and deputized School Resource Officers are an offense to that commitment and further the disturbing trend of funneling students out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. I support the elimination of BRIC and the severing of ties between BPS, BPD, and ICE, including the removal of School Resource Officers from all Boston Public Schools.
Increase Budgetary Transparency
For years Boston Public Schools and the families they serve have been at odds over the budget’s realities and how they impact our students and teachers. To make the funding and process more transparent, I propose creating a Budget Dashboard that provides easily understandable information from central oce expenses and from every school in the district, including reported budget shortfalls and position eliminations by each school’s School Site Council.
Modernize School Buildings
We have neglected our school buildings for generations. The critically needed repairs, long left unaddressed, have made it unsafe for many schools to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move to implement recommendations from the BuildBPS report, we must ensure we’re doing so equitably. I will advocate for a robust investment in our public education infrastructure.
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?
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?
Several of my plans include expanding economic access across the district and city.
Invest in Voc-Tech Programing
As we rebuild our economy after the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our high schools are positioned to create new pathways for our young people. With its wealth and diversity of industries, Boston can be a regional leader in vocational and technical programs. Our high schools can be a hub of not just vo-tech training but innovation and exploration. Working in partnership with the city’s Building Pathways program and the Boston Public Schools, I will advocate expanding vo-tech instruction to all our high schools.
Support a Green Jobs Initiative
A robust green jobs initiative could expand employment opportunities for our youth and our residents who face barriers to employment. By implementing a paid training program, we can create work that will revitalize the neighborhoods these Bostonians call home through green infrastructure installation, climate-resilient design, natural spaces restoration, and community engagement. My support for Councilor Michelle Wu’s proposal to ban the use of Criminal Oender Record Information (CORI) for determination of eligibility for municipally supported jobs programs will ensure that these programs are delivered equitably.
Increase City Funding for Youth Jobs
Youth unemployment has spiked to historic levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravating the already large racial disparities that persist in youth employment rates. Investing in youth jobs represents an investment in a more equitable economic future for young people and their families and a better-skilled labor force for the city. Funding youth jobs has also demonstrated an increase in community safety and a direct decrease in violence. We must Increase City funding for youth jobs to fund 1,000 school-year and 5,000 summer jobs, expand programming to fully include 14- to 22-year-olds and undocumented youth, and direct city funding to youth-serving community organizations.
Ensure Equity in Procurement
Expanding the equity initiatives in the City contracting and procurement process to include worker-owned businesses and organizations, especially those owned by Black folks, people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ workers, will ensure these communities have equal access and opportunity to build wealth. This is why I support the demands of the Boston Economic Council of Massachusetts. I will set spending goals of 15% for Black-owned businesses and a combined 40% for women- and minority-owned businesses, including LGBTQ+ owners, and direct all City departments and quasi-city agencies to unbundle large contracts set to become available in 2021. In addition to the spending goals, I will expand support to these businesses by ensuring they can access legal assistance when navigating the application process while streamlining and simplifying it.
Further Equity in Support of Worker-Owned Businesses
Closing the racial wealth gap will require that we use an equity lens and further our economy’s democratization. Expanding the equity initiatives for worker-owned businesses, especially those owned by Black folks, people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ workers, will ensure marginalized communities have equal access and opportunity to build wealth. With this in mind, I will advocate for the expansion of the City’s Worker Cooperative Initiative to provide grants, loans, and technical and procurement assistance to start-up worker co-ops. This will also bolster support for current businesses that want to transition into a worker-owned model and companies oering employee stock ownership plans (ESOP).
Strengthen Gig Worker Protections
Boston must take action to ensure that workers’ rights are centered in our economic policy by strengthening enforcement of worker protections. In addition to City contractors, I will extend the Living Wage Ordinance to subcontractors and independent contractors. With the expansion of the ordinance, misclassified workers would receive an additional wage premium to cover denied benefits due to misclassification. We will create a Gig Worker Advisory Board to convene stakeholders, set the minimum acceptable wage and benefit standards, direct the Wage Theft & Living Wage Division to investigate whether these companies pay workers the state minimum wage of $13.50, and build a coalition of municipal leaders to develop a framework for strengthening worker rights across the city lines.
Support the Chuck Turner Jobs Act
The Chuck Turner Jobs Act builds upon his decades of work to create a more equitable Boston. I will sponsor the Act, which includes but is not limited to creating Community Stabilization Areas and Committees for any neighborhood where the median income is under $34,000. These neighborhoods will be targeted for special programs, including, but not limited to, First Source Hiring programs, training on employee rights, and access to quality jobs.
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?
Increasing access to community gardens is one of my highlighted commitments.
Increase Access to Community Gardens
Every dollar invested in a community garden yields around $6 in produce, or between $500 and $2,000 worth of fresh produce per family annually. I will work in conjunction with the Trustees, who currently manage 56 gardens across Boston, to explore where vacant lots can be converted into public community gardens in District 6.