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2019 Boston City Councilor At-Large      2018 Election Results & Investments

At Maria's List, we elevate progressive candidates, especially women and people of color, who promote equity, who close opportunity gaps in education and wealth creation, who promote accountability and a robust democracy.

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Amplifying New Women of Color Voices
JULY 2019

Alejandra St. Guillen

Julia Mejia

Priscilla Flint-Banks

 

website: Alejandra St. Guillen

Alejandra St. Guillen's photo

Alejandra St. Guillen
Running for Boston City Council At-Large

Election Dates: Preliminary - September 24; General — November 5th

 

The daughter of a Venezuelan immigrant father and a mother from New Hampshire, Alejandra was born and raised in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston. Her father passed away when Alejandra was 13 years old. She graduated from Boston Latin School, Wesleyan University and then City College with her Master’s degree in Education. She started her career in education: teaching at public schools in the Bronx in New York City and then Boston, where she taught at the McKinley Schools for special needs students. After four years as a public school teacher, she worked on issues of high school access at an educational nonprofit.

 

In 2006, her only sibling Imette, a graduate school student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, was murdered just weeks before her graduation by a bouncer at a bar she was at that night while celebrating. Imette’s murder garnered national attention and was part of the catalyst for passage of New York legislation requiring that nightclubs have security plans and that bouncers at bars undergo background checks.

 

“My sister was everything to me,” Alejandra said. “She looked up to me, and I felt that one of my core duties my entire life was to protect her. And the fact that I wasn’t there to do that left me with an incredible amount of guilt and an incredible amount of obligation to see that the life that she didn’t get to lead would be lived out by others.”

 

Around that time, she started working at the State House for then-State Senator Dianne Wilkerson’s Director of Constituent Services. “That was really my first entrée into the political-slash-government world,” St. Guillen said. “Service has always been my path, and though I never knew exactly what I wanted to do, I was always in that vein of ‘How can we make a difference?’ Government was just another avenue to do that, and the level of influence you can have in the state legislature is really significant.” Her work with activists at the State House led her to work for Oiste, the long-time pre-eminent political education and advocacy organization for Massachusetts Latinx community, where she served as Executive Director for three years. Among her accomplishments at Oiste, Alejandra spearheaded a statewide coalition working on 2011 redistricting that helped create twice as many Massachusetts legislative districts that were majority people of color.

 

In 2014, Alejandra went to work for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, where she created the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund which provides immigrants with volunteer immigration lawyers.

 

She has a young son Jose Alejandro with her wife Josiane Martinez.

 

Key Policy Priorities

 

Status of Seat: All four incumbents are running for re-election to Boston City Council At-Large seats. When Ayanna Pressley won her congressional seat and resigned her council seat, she was replaced by the 5th place finisher, Althea Garrison. Councilor At-Large Garrison is conservative and considered to be very vulnerable; in the 2017 election, she missed making the top four by 25,000 votes.

 

Analysis of St. Guillen Campaign: Alejandra is running a strong campaign with a lot of momentum. She’s been endorsed by organizations like UNITE HERE Local 26, the LGBTQ Victory Fund and Right to the City Vote as well as by a number of Boston elected officials including City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu; City Councilor Kim Janey; State Representatives Michael Moran, Adrian Madaro, Ed Coppinger, Nika Elugardo, Dan Cullinane, Jon Santiago, and Liz Malia and State Senator Sal DiDomenico. Of the At-Large challengers, Alejandra has raised the most money. She would be the first Latina on the Boston City Council.

 

In line with our Deep Democracy framework for giving, we prioritize supporting candidates who have the backing of coalitions of diverse, grassroots, community-powered organizations. As the only multiracial, multilingual and multi-generational political organization in Boston, the Right to the City Vote coalition endorsed two women of color in the Boston At-Large race: Alejandra and Julia Mejia (who we’ve also endorsed; see below for more about her). The Right to the City Vote coalition includes grassroots organizations like Chinese Progressive Political Action (CPPA) and Mass Alliance and the coalition was part of the driving force behind Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’ historic wins.

Endorsements

website: Julia Mejia

Julia Mejia's photo

Julia Mejia
Running for Boston City Council At-Large

Election Dates: Preliminary - September 24; General — November 5th

 

When Julia was five years old, she immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic. Because she was raised by an undocumented, single mother, she learned at a very early age about advocacy in order to put food on the table, including learning to advocate for her family with the welfare office and other government agencies. It taught her at an early age how to fight. Growing up, Julia cleaned offices with her mother and has been working since she was 12. Her first job was at an insurance agency. She told them “put together a flyer and I’ll tell everyone about you” and made $26.

 

She dropped out of school in the 9th grade but went back to Dorchester High School and became the first in her family to graduate high school at 19.5 years old. Her and her mom couldn’t afford to live in one place and, because her mom was undocumented, they had to move from place to place. Because she bounced around schools so much, she attended almost every single school in Boston. Julia was 10 years old when her and her mom finally had their own place, and one where they stayed for longer than a year and long enough for her to graduate from school. That is what has informed her life and she has dedicated her life to community since.

 

In her 20s, after college, she worked in the nonprofit sector. The only reason she graduated from high school was a visit to her school by Ms. Liz Walker, the first black reporter in Massachusetts. Inspired by Ms. Walker, Julia moved to NYC to be a reporter. She worked at MTV, where she covered a presidential campaign and worked on MTV’s Rock the Vote campaign. At MTV, she was dedicated to amplifying the voices of young people and ensuring that black and brown voices were heard.

 

In 2009, she moved back to Boston because she noticed that violence in her city was on the rise. She worked with a marketing agency, helping and training nonprofits on how to raise awareness of their issues. Then, Julia became pregnant and needed health insurance, so she went to work for Goodwill. There, she did workforce development for women transitioning out of welfare. As part of that, she created a curriculum for those women, and all the women she trained there are still employed. That’s where she learned about the education gap, because almost all of the women had an interrupted education and/or their GED.

 

Julia then went to work for the Massachusetts Charter Association as a parent organizer. Her niece was at Excel and she thought they were doing a good job. She didn’t realize how political the conversation was. While working at the Massachusetts Charter Association, she wanted to create a formal voice for charter parents and created a network. It was initially meant just for parents with kids at charter schools but after a few meetings, she knew they had parents whose kids tended all types of schools. The ballot question (Question 2: lifting the cap on the number of Massachusetts charters) was coming, so she pulled the network (CPLAN) out of the Massachusetts Charter Association but kept working with CPLAN. Charters were unhappy about that.

 

Now, the work CPLAN does with parents is focused on helping parents troubleshoot issues they are having with their district schools; they “coach them through to a win.” For example, CPLAN coaches parents to have a better relationship with administrators so that their kids stay in their schools. Through CPLAN, Julia helps schools improve in how they work with black and brown families and does parent leadership development through contracts with the Boston Public Schools and the Massachusetts Department of Education. They work with BPS’ ELL population and are working with Community Academy to redesign their governance structure and parent advisory committee in partnership with parents and educators. She serves on the BPS ELL Taskforce, which is appointed by School Committee. Five CPLAN parents have been appointed to statewide education boards.

 

Key Policy Priorities

 

Analysis of Mejia Campaign: Julia is running a strong grassroots campaign; she has a disciplined and ambitious door-knocking plan and is building the volunteer base to try and reach it. Over 40 people came to her first canvassing event. She came in second in fundraising for non-incumbents (behind Alejandra St. Guillen who we’ve also endorsed; read above for more on her), and most of her donations are small-dollar from Boston. Just like with her organization, she says she can do a lot with very little and is running a lean campaign. More financial resources would help her hire additional staff and pay for additional mailings.

 

Julia and Alejandra were the two women of color endorsed by the Right to the City Vote grassroots coalition, the only multiracial, multilingual and multi-generational political organization in Boston. In line with our Deep Democracy framework for giving, we prioritize supporting candidates who have the backing of coalitions of diverse, grassroots, community-powered organizations.

Endorsements

website: Priscilla Flint-Banks

Priscilla Flint-Banks' photo

Priscilla Flint-Banks
Running for Boston City Council At-Large

Election Dates: Preliminary - September 24; General — November 5th

 

Priscilla grew up in Roxbury’s Orchard Park housing project. She had her first child when she was 15 years old and tragically lost him in a fire when she was 19. In mourning the loss of her son, she suffered several nervous breakdowns and moved to Alaska before coming back to Boston. She worked in banking and while in banking, was able to go to Cambridge College and earn her master’s degree in business management. She tragically then lost her second son who was seven years old in a car accident.

 

She worked for the Elderly Commission at the City of Boston and then worked as a housing counselor and foreclosure prevention specialist with the Mass Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA). MAHA was formed in response to red-lining, when banks drew a line through Roxbury and signed people up for loans they couldn’t afford. The Soft Second program (now ONE Mortgage), which she worked on at MAHA, enabled people to get a special loan; one part was a 1% interest rate and another part was a lower interest rate. 20,000 people have been able to purchase homes for the first time through the Soft Second/One Mortgage program. After working at MAHA, Priscilla went back to work for the City of Boston and ran payroll and general services (payroll for retirees) for the City. After two decades there, she retired in 2010. Since then, she has been a founding member of Mass Justice and Equality and served as Treasurer and Membership Coordinator. She’s also Chair of the Boston Jobs Coalition.

 

In 2012, she co-founded the Black Economic Justice Institute (BEJI) in response to the lack of people of color and women hired for construction jobs on development projects across the City of Boston, as was mandated by the Boston Resident Job Policy ordinance. That severe lack was clear in the construction of the Bruce Bolling building, particularly because the late Councilor Bolling had originally written the ordinance. BEJI boycotted and protested at the Bolling Building for over 200 days. They brought so much attention to the lack of compliance with the ordinance that they were able to strengthen the Boston Residents Job Policy, securing an increase in the numbers of women and people of color required to be hired on construction sites in the City as well as additional accountability measures. BEJI also created the Blue Hill Corridor Planning Commission, an initiative working along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor with businesses and residents to give them a voice in the development and planning of the corridor. The Commission stopped a liquor store from opening in Grove Hall, shut down Stop and Shop because of evidence of rodents in the store, and took surveys in the corridor to find out what businesses need. It found that, in particular, they need employee development and technical assistance because small businesses have minimal capacity. In response, the Commission worked to bring city resources and services to them. BEJI also has a radio show called the BEJI Reporter that features community events, brings small businesses on as guests, and works to bring awareness to what’s going on in the community.

 

Key Policy Priorities

 

Analysis of Flint-Banks Campaign: Priscilla is a long-time grassroots activist with a deep, authentic history of fighting for equity and social justice in Boston. Our hope at Maria’s List is that community-led grassroots leaders of and from the community like her run for office. She has deep roots and relationships in neighborhoods across the city that she is working to mobilize in her grassroots-driven campaign. She is trailing other challengers in the race in fundraising and needs your help to garner the financial resources to be competitive.

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MASSACHUSETTS 2018 ELECTION RESULTS & INVESTMENTS


Here in Massachusetts, our progressive Blue Wave was led by trailblazing Maria’s List-endorsed women of color like Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Rachael Rollins (Suffolk County District Attorney), Nika Elugardo (State Representative - 15th Suffolk), Tram Nguyen (State Representative – 18th Essex), Maria Robinson (State Representative – 6th Middlesex), and Liz Miranda (State Representative – 5th Suffolk).

 

As we celebrate our victories, we also know that there is still work needed and victories to protect. While an all-time high of 28.5% of Massachusetts State House seats will now be held by women (up from 26% in 2017), women of color will only hold 2.5% of legislative seats, no change from 2017. We won the Yes on 2 (Money Out of Politics) and Yes on 3 (Defend Transgender Rights) ballot fights but lost Yes on 1 (Safe Patient Limits). And, we helped legal aid attorney Tram Nguyen defeat incumbent Republican State Rep. Jim Lyons – Massachusetts’ own version of smaller Donald Trump – in a resounding victory, flipping a tough district from red to progressive blue. Undoubtedly though, she will have a tough re-election battle in a 2020 presidential year when turnout is high in both parties.

 

Led by our Deep Democracy giving framework, we at Maria’s List will continue to invest – with early money – in the synergies: in bold, progressive women of color candidates, in the grassroots organizations lifting up these candidates and in progressive ballot initiative work.

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