Winnie Eke

https://www.winnieekeforcouncil.com/

Winnie has been a resident of West Roxbury for almost 30 years after immigrating to Boston from Nigeria 34 years ago. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy, masters degrees in education administration and community health education, and a bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry. She has worked as a medical technologist and is currently an adjunct professor at Boston College. She has had many community leadership positions including as a board member for the Parkway Community YMCA, an executive member of Healthy Roslindale, and as an executive member of the Boston Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.


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?


There are laws protecting citizens’ privacy. These laws must be adhered to. To ensure that the city does not use data collected inappropriately, I will advocate more penalty in addition to any penalty for misuse of date. I will advocate for a specific office to warehouse data for the city. I will encourage educating citizens on how to check for misuse of their information and provide steps to report such misuse.

Residents must be informed when their data are needed for activities in the city and be given the option to opt out.

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)?


First, is reducing our use of sources of green house gasses. Converting all school buses to electric, retrofitting all old buildings and government building to lower energy use. Protect wet lands as carbon sinks and replant trees as they get older. Encourage use of solar and wind energy.

Climate resilience must consider areas that have been neglected, starting from Roxbury, and Mattapan areas. We must revise our ideas about building development and not including trees or parks and gardens for shades and the aeration that these provide. We must use data in all our plans as this is the only way to make sure there is equity in our communities.

Protection: Redesign existing infrastructure-add bumps and berms. For new development, build on elevated stilts with windows that can close during sea rise or flood. Build elevated landscape or sea wall that can act as both barrier and surface for play. Save and plant more trees.


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 plan to support the plan already in place. However, I will advocate that tree planting and greening be done in areas that need them the most first before attending to other parts of the city. I will advocate for the use of professionals who will recommend specific trees for their benefits as well as how to treat diseases. I will advocate for use of greens on side walk instead of cement. I will advocate for the reduction of of impact of development in urban areas. Trees could be saved or replanted after each development.

Implementation:
First, by promoting the plans through meetings with constituents to explain the goals of the plan. Educate and promote benefits of trees and greens and encourage individual responsibility in promoting good health. Advocate for a department to be in charge of trees and greening in the city.

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?


They provide the basis for most policies-health, agriculture, environment, elder care, finance, transportation, housing, crime, etc.

Science will form the basis of my thinking and policy, from education, to health, housing etc. Science will provide the evidence and the data on which I will work from.


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 should reach out to communities in the city. Every group is peculiar in its own way and should be treated as such. In essence, the city should work on reaching people in their own enclave with specific message, answering their questions and clarifying their misinformation.

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?


First, there should be a manual for epidemic/pandemic preparedness for the city. The city must be prepared at all times and ear mark centers and interpreters for communities for all emergencies. The Department of emergency preparedness must train community members who will interpret the message and information as needed. When there is preparation, then misinformation is reduced.

The health Commission and Emergency preparedness should work together in all emergencies. Manual must be written and distributed to all departments in the city. The Community Outreach department should be delegated to reach out to communities/churches/Mosques, and Temples. Respected and well-known persons in each community should be integrated into plans for all future pandemic/epidemics and health crises. Manual should be translated to languages in the city.

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?


COVID-19 did affect my position on education. The Pandemic did exacerbate the learning gap, with children from low-income families bearing the brunt of the disease.

The city needs to see fund the schools based on their needs. Schools with neediest students should have teachers who are reliable and have the resources to serve those children. Essentially, the resources should follow the needs of each school.

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?


I will advocate that the city recruit promising international students and apply for visas for them upon graduation. If students are in Boston with a scholarship from their country and show willingness to work in the city, the city can arrange with the country to refund the scholarship. That way, the city maintains the good relationship with the foreign country.

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?


I will advocate for more resources for STEM education. I will advocate for city scholarship for students who excel in STEM. I will work with my colleagues and reach out to the state legislature to encourage internships for high school and college students in STEM companies.

Since science and technology are making life easier for people, I will work with all council members to advocate for benefits. These include: making internet accessible to all, ensure that telephone prices are affordable, insuring that our handicapped residents are able to access and meet their needs, homes are comfortable to live in at all times at a reasonable and affordable rates, especially for our elderly and low income residents, and new innovations in health care are accessible to all.

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?


I will propose “green infrastructure”, a landscape approach suggested by Mell (2017). This approach encourages multi-functional and connected approach where gardens, ponds, parks, side walks can be connected, including spaces in new development that could be connected to side walks.

Having meetings with residents and giving information as well as processes needed to support urban farming. In addition, there should be a website for resources for urban farming, easily accessible to all via City of Boston Website.

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