Ruthzee is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and was raised in Boston. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her J.D. and M.P.P from Harvard University. Ruthzee was a Judicial Intern for Judge Denise J. Casper in Massachusetts and a Political Law Associate at Perkins Coie, LLP. In 2019, Ruthzee was chosen to serve as Senior Counsel for the Warren For President campaign, before beginning her own City Council campaign. Ruthzee also is the founder of The Opening, PLLC, which provides counsel for nonprofit organizations for housing affordability agreements, political engagement, and contract needs.
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?
Privacy and protection of our residents, especially our most vulnerable populations is of critical importance to me. I would support the current surveillance ordinance proposed by City Council to ensure accountability, transparency, and oversight of the use of Surveillance technology and data by the City and all of its agencies to protect privacy, civil rights, and racial and immigrant justice.
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 support an urban-based Green New Deal for Boston. Environmental justice means having a focus on how environmental impacts disproportionately affect low-income and BIPOC residents. While keeping environment justice at the forefront, our top priority needs to be committing to 100% renewables: divesting from fossil fuels, converting our electricity to renewables, converting government transportation to electric (including our BPS buses), requiring new developments to meet net-zero emissions standards while reducing parking requirements, and converting all existing buildings and transportation to renewables.
If elected, I would double down on our environmental justice investments by looking at what the city has control over: public transportation, urban spaces, disposable good regulations, and building energy requirements. I believe that we need to grow the tree canopy in urban spaces and continue making Boston Harbor more resilient by ensuring flood protection particularly in neighborhoods that have been under-invested in.
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 believe it is the role of the government to restore faith in science and combat misinformation. Vaccine hesitancy is one of the most crucial areas where we need to combat misinformation, especially in my Hatian community and particularly in our vulnerable populations who have experienced past negative experiences with our public health systems.
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?
Investing in public health and mental health resources is critical to a strong and healthy city. COVID-19 has revealed how unprepared we are to face major health crises, and how deep racisma public health crisis itselfaffects health outcomes.
Boston is home to some of the world’s greatest hospitals, yet the disparities continue. We need to put more time investment into partnering with our hospitals and community health centers to tackle the big issues of opioid abuse, mental health resources and accessibility, and homelessnesss.
I will fight to increase the mental health resources in our schools (smaller ratio of students per guidance counselor) and help create welcoming environments to discuss mental health issues.
I will also fight for community health centers in neighborhoods that currently lack one, and partner with non-profit organizations to increase the mental health resources they are able to offer on-site to deal with trauma and healing.
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?
COVID-19 didn’t change my opinions on the needs of our education systems, but simply elucidated the disparities that already existed.
When it comes to addressing education, we need to work towards equity and excellence in all of our public schools and as city councilor I would:
Support an elected school committee for more accountability; Advocate for robust funding for universal pre-K in partnership with our family-based and center-based providers; Advocate for early college access programs for students; Advocate for emotional and tangible support for students experiencing homelessness; Advocate for extended support and smaller classrooms for vulnerable populations; Promote our schools with an assets-based approach; Advocate for making capital improvements in our Boston Public Schools; Advocate for hiring more diverse teachers that reflect the student population.; and Advocate for investment in human capital to strengthen leadership in central office.
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?
I support all policies that welcome immigrants to the City of Boston, including partnering with our federal delegation to ensure that H-1B visas are being provided and processed. We need to celebrate the diversity of the many different cultures that make up the city and foster a welcoming and inclusive environment.
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?
The benefits of one of Boston’s greatest strengths our scientific research and technology enterprise, needs to be something that all Bostonian’s can access. Specifically, we need to create welcoming and inclusive spaces for young BIPOC residents to prevent Boston’s brain drain of young professional talent and foster an environment for networking and culturally-relevant city programming.
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 be using city land judiciously to address food deserts and the existential crisis at our doorstep – climate change. This means using some city-owned lots for community-empowering urban farms, creating more parks, and expanding our tree canopy. The city must also work with the Boston delegation to enact an environmental right of first refusal when an urban wild or an undeveloped plot of land goes on the private market. I also believe we should strengthen partnerships and investments in worker cooperatives and worker-owned businesses through the Economic Mobility Lab and the Worker Cooperative Initiative To increase transparency, we need a citywide database of land owned by the city and by the BPDA, together with the proposals for the land from community and private interests.