Annissa Essaibi George

Annissa is a first-generation American raised in Dorchester: her father immigrated to the United States from Tunisia, and her mother from a Displaced Person’s camp in Germany after World War II. She has a B.A. in Political Science and Government from Boston University and a M.Ed. from University of Massachusetts, Boston. Annissa served as a teacher and softball coach at East Boston High School for 14 years, until she was elected Boston City Councillor At-Large in 2016. On the City Council, Annissa is the chair of the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Recovery. She also runs a yarn store, Stitch House, located in Dorchester.

Three Major Science and Technology Related Efforts in Boston:

  • Advocated for increased budget for education, especially counseling and other services specific to the needs of special needs students
  • Enacted the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health, and Recovery, which serves to increase resources to support those facing homelessness or living in a shelter in Boston
  • Increased Boston’s needle pick-up and EMS support at the South End’s “methadone mile”

https://www.annissaforboston.com/


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?


I have deep concerns about the implications that these technologies can have when it comes to civil rights, especially for Boston’s Black and brown residents. As Mayor, all of my policies surrounded by technologies will be informed by experts and community leaders. I believe that in order to use these technologies responsibly, we must be transparent and engage residents in these important conversations. I do not support facial recognition technology here in Boston.

Environment

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)?


As Mayor, I will facilitate close coordination between City Hall, developers, property owners, community stakeholders, and residents to ensure that conversations around development, climate change and sea level rise do not happen in silos. These issues are interconnected, and our responses need to be interconnected as well. I strongly believe that the neighborhoods most impacted are the ones who should be driving the conversations, because they are the experts on what their communities need. Additionally, I will work alongside developers and leverage the city’s zoning process to incentivize green, resilient, and thoughtful development across our city. We will not be successful in preparing Boston for the inevitabilities of sea-level rise and climate change unless we have residents, businesses, and stakeholders from every neighborhood in the room when we’re having these conversations. I have been a convener and a collaborator throughout my time on City Council, and I will bring those skills to the Mayor’s Office in November.


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 believe our City parks and green spaces are a critical part of the solution to dismantling climate injustice in our City. Far too many of our low-income neighborhoods are made up exclusively of concrete, and that has a real impact on excessive heat and poor air quality in those communities. By investing in open spaces and increasing our tree canopy, we can mitigate the disproportionate impact of heat islands and climate change on communities of color and improve health disparities for our historically marginalized residents. I will work with developers and leverage Boston’s construction boom to encourage the creation of green spaces in new projects to ensure that we are not creating more heat islands as our city continues to grow. This is a climate issue and a quality of life issue, and I am committed to working hand-in-hand with community members to reduce excessive heat in our most vulnerable communities.

Science

What should the role of science and scientists be in government, policy, and decision-making? How does science fit into your agenda for Boston?


I am committed to building a Cabinet, Administration, and coalition that is ready to tackle Boston’s biggest issues on Day One, and scientists will absolutely have a seat at the decision making table. I believe that in order to make Boston a better city to work, live, and raise a family for all, we need to make data-informed decisions. I am not a doctor or a scientist, and I will bring those experts into my conversations to ensure that I am making the best, most informed decisions possible.


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 City of Boston must be intentional about meeting people where they are, and I believe that we need to do a better job of disseminating information throughout our neighborhoods and be intentional when breaking down language and access barriers.

I also think Community Health Centers have a vital role to play in this space and in Boston’s public health. They provide the culturally competent care that our residents need.

Healthcare

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?


Too many of our residents have been left out and left behind when it comes to vaccine information and access. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve advocated for meeting people where they are — in their neighborhoods, through Community Health Centers, and by mobilizing EMTS — to distribute the vaccine more equitably and efficiently. This should have been a priority from that start, and I can promise that it will be a priority of an Essaibi George administration. We must conduct outreach that is culturally competent and linguistically accessible. As Mayor, I will work alongside community leaders, neighborhood physicians, and faith leaders to ensure that Boston residents are receiving information about vaccines from people they know and trust. We cannot respond adequately to this, or any crisis, if the people in City Hall don’t reflect the diversity of the communities they are serving, and I am committed to ensuring that the makeup of Boston is reflected in every level of city government.

Education

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 inequalities in and shortcomings of Boston Public Schools (BPS) have existed for a long time, and the pandemic has only made them more visible. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to reimagine our approach and ensure that all BPS students have access to a high-quality education, and that starts with closing the opportunity and achievement gap. As Mayor, I will establish equitable baseline standards and resources in event school. We must implement consistent, district-wide curriculum standards to reduce disparities between schools and ensure that every BPS school is providing high quality academics, regardless of neighborhood. This starts with establishing a structured literacy program for every child from pre K-3, and expanding and strengthening literacy testing, detection, and early intervention strategies to identify student literacy needs and increase the distribution of reading specialists in our schools.

The pandemic has also shown us how critical a role our schools play in the overall well-being of students and families, and we need to ensure that we are meeting all of their needs. We must ensure that every school has appropriate staffing ratios for nurses and school psychologists, a full-time social worker, a full-time school counselor, a full-time family liaison, a full-time homeless advocate, strong literacy services, arts programming, athletic opportunities, a library/media center, strong academic resources, English Language Learners (ELL) translators, inclusion done right, and high quality buildings. As a former teacher, I have had a front row seat to the challenges that our students and families face each day, and I am committed to making sure that all BPS students have the resources and support they need to thrive in and out of the classroom.

Immigration

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?


As the daughter of immigrants myself, I will always celebrate and embrace immigrants, their families, and the contributions they make to our city. My parents have two very different immigration stories. My mother was born in a Displaced Persons’ camp in Germany to Polish parents and came to the United States in the early 1950s. My father immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in 1972. Together, they made Boston their home and for that I am incredibly grateful. Our immigrants make Boston the vibrant and thriving city that it is, and I will do everything in my power to support them as Mayor.

Economy

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?


There is no doubt that science and technology jobs are the future of Boston’s economy, and our greatest challenge will be making sure that we are filling those jobs with Boston residents. Throughout my time on the City Council, I have been a strong advocate for expanding technical and vocational education opportunities at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and in our high schools across the city. We have a real opportunity to prepare our youth for jobs in computer science, green energy, healthcare, and other related fields. And we have the chance to expand vocational programs for adults at Madison Park to ensure that all Bostonians are equipped to take advantage of Boston’s changing labor market. As Mayor, I will work to expand workforce development within the Boston Public Schools and partner with local colleges, unions, and vocational technical programs to ensure that we are meeting the demands of our growing scientific community and keeping those economic benefits in Boston.

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?


Community access to gardens and urban farming is an integral part of food justice. We need to combat food insecurity by strengthening the Mayor’s Office of Food Access to fight for more healthy, fresh food to be available and affordable, and coordinate distribution efforts with leading advocates and organizations who are doing this work on the ground. We also need to invest in and expand mobile options that meet people where they are, such as the Office of Food Access’ mobile food truck.

Our community gardens are especially important in the areas of our city which are considered food deserts. We need to ensure that our residents know that these gardens are available and provide the resources for these spaces to thrive, and in turn, allow our residents to thrive.

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