andrea campbell

Read Andrea Campbell's Responses To The Create The Vote Boston Coalition's Questionnaire


Roundtable Create the Vote Boston 2021 discussion 

“Everything I’ve done has always been through an equity lens,” said Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell during a roundtable discussion with members of the Create the Vote Boston 2021 Coalition (CTV Boston). 

“I’ve worked on a whole host of issues, always with the goal, quite frankly, of pushing the city to just do more, particularly in communities that have been under-resourced and under-invested in for a really long time,” said Campbell. “Really pushing to do the work of eradicating the inequities that exist in every system, including access to education, housing affordability … and access to cultural and artistic events.” 

When asked how she would deal with the inequities that run rampant through the city’s systems of licensing and permitting for arts and cultural events, including festivals, concerts, and exhibitions, Campbell had a simple answer: “Establishing a process that everyone is aware of and sticking to it.” 

Sometimes people have to pay for police details, Campbell said. And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes a permit is issued quickly and “sometimes, well, good luck,” she added. 

“There is very little process, and it seems ad hoc,” said Campbell. Oftentimes, final approval hinges on whether you know someone who can make a call on your behalf. “When you have that relational approach for policy, you can’t be equitable.” 

So the first step in fixing the city’s broken permitting process, said Campbell, is to create a real process and then enforce it. 

Campbell, an attorney who served as Deputy Legal Counsel in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration, is a member of Boston’s new generation of political leaders who are more racially and linguistically diverse—and female—than any others in Boston’s history. When Campbell, who is Black and grew up in Roxbury and the South End, first ran for office in 2015, she took on District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey, who had represented Mattapan, Dorchester, and parts of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale for 32 years. On election night, not only was Campbell victorious, but her current colleagues on the Council and fellow competitors in the mayor’s race also made history: In her first run for office, Annissa Essaibi-George, a first generation American whose mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, defeated 19-year veteran incumbent Stephen Murphy, and Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and the first Asian-American elected to the Boston City Council in 2013, won of the most votes of everyone who ran citywide except for one person: former city councilor Ayanna Pressley, who now represents the state’s Seventh Congressional District in Congress. 

Throughout her interview, Campbell frequently referenced Boston’s new leadership and its intersectional approach to solving intractable social problems: “The inequities are long and this is our time to change that. The best thing about the city of Boston is we have everything it would take to do just that. We have the human capital, the talent, the expertise, the resources, the nonprofit community, the philanthropic community, the institutions, everything it would take. And if we do it right here in the city of Boston, we would be the first urban municipality in the country to close every single gap.” 

Campbell made her remarks during an hour-long meeting with members of CTV Boston on Friday, June 16. Participating CTV Boston members included Boston Children’s Museum Vice President, External Relations & Corporate Development Charlayne Murrell-Smith, EdVestors President & CEO Marinell Rousmaniere, Massachusetts Live Events Coalition Communications & Marketing Officer Mercedes Roman-Manson, MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock, MASSCreative Director of Engagement and Organizing Tri Vi Quach, and Open Door Arts Managing Director Nicole Agois Hurel. 

Below are highlights from the conversation: 

On supporting artists with disabilities and making the city more livable for people with disabilities (asked by Open Door Arts Managing Director Nicole Agois Hurel). 

Referring to the American Rescue Plan funding that the city will receive, Campbell said that the “one-time investment” should be used, in part, to transform the city’s physical spaces to make them more accessible to all. Her mayoral cabinet, she added, would have someone in charge of disability issues who would view all city functions through that lens and partner with experts to help the city do better. 

“There tends to still be a defensive culture within City Hall, and sometimes I think there needs to be acknowledgement that City Hall just doesn't do certain things well, but there are organizations that existed for generations that if we were to give them resources or space for true partnership and collaboration or technical assistance, we could actually get to the outcomes we want to achieve faster,” Campbell said.   

On investing $20 million in arts and culture by the end of her first term (asked by Boston Children’s Museum Vice President, External Relations & Corporate Development Charlayne Murrell-Smith). 

“The short answer is yes,” Campbell said, noting that the city’s Department of Arts and Culture is under-resourced. “It's been shocking to see how other municipalities like Baltimore have really stepped up to help cultural institutions with immediate funding. Right now our cultural institutions are sort of all on their own. No COVID relief, no funding whatsoever … So I do think we also have to be mindful that these institutions need greater investment right now, and I think there's a way to make that happen so that they're not struggling. We've really missed the mark compared to other municipalities.” 

On what the city can do to offer support to artists affected by the pandemic that goes beyond financial support and extends into mental health (asked by Massachusetts Live Events Coalition Communications & Marketing Officer Mercedes Roman-Manson).

“I love this question, it's all connected to housing, the employment opportunity, mental health, access to benefits,” Campbell said. “Coming out of COVID, George Floyd, I don't even really think we understand the magnitude of the effect it's had on all of us. … But there are little things we can do, and one specific thing … is just making sure everyone is connected to a primary care physician. Every public health professional I’ve talked to said that if this happens, you're more inclined to actually be connected to mental health services if you need them. We’re such a small city that we can actually make that happen, and the Health Commission can play a role.”   

On supporting arts education, creative youth development, and pathways to arts careers for young people (asked by EdVestors President & CEO Marinell Rousmaniere).

“One [part of this] is driving equity, so making sure, for example, that every school, every child, every educator, school leader, has access to a robust arts and culture programming,” Campbell said. “In addition to that, making sure our young people have access to all kinds of arts within their school's after-school programming … So I think it really is pushing the district to drive equity across every single school, pushing them also to really be public in that. Where does the programming exist? What does it look like? What are the gaps and how do we close those gaps? What's the timeline to do that? Who are we engaging to help us do that, and how are we holding the district accountable to delivering on that?” 

Campbell added that the city, through partnerships with private organizations, nonprofits, and other experts, could build and support pathways to cultural careers for young people: “If you want to be a singer, if you want to go into the visual arts, if you want to go into live performance, if you want to be on stage, in the back doing whatever … what does it mean for our school system to have pathways, skills development, partnerships with their local universities and colleges and community colleges, partnerships with employers while you're still within Boston Public Schools? So many of our young people can literally leave BPS and go straight into a job. Maybe they don't even need to go to college at that point and incur new debt. So we need to be really thinking outside the box on the BPS structure and how it exists right now and how we are not training and developing our young people and we're not helping them meet their dreams.” 

Final thoughts 

When she was 29, Campbell’s twin brother Andre died while incarcerated. Although they were nearly inseparable while growing up, Andrea attended Boston Latin School and Princeton University and earned her law degree at UCLA. Her brother was frequently disciplined in school and cycled in and out of the criminal-legal system. “When I first ran for the City Council, I asked one question that is still informing my work every single day, which is, how did twins born and raised in the city of Boston have such different life outcomes?” 

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published this page in 2021 mayoral candidates 2021-08-17 10:25:09 -0400

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