Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell consolidated her criticism of Acting Mayor Kim Janey Monday, objecting to Janey's handling of issues ranging from police reform to COVID-19 policy.
Campbell, appearing on Boston Public Radio, stressed credibility as a child who overcame adversity, saying she is the "only candidate that has lived almost every inequity you can think about that this city has to grapple with," and drew on her record on the Council to make her case as a candidate uniquely positioned to lead Boston.
Boston Public Radio co-host Jim Braude characterized Campbell as the most vocal critic of Acting Mayor Kim Janey, on matters like police reform and the city's COVID-19 response — both complex issues which Janey inherited from former Mayor Marty Walsh when he left the city to become the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Campbell responded that her criticism is not aimed at Janey personally but "on issues."
"I am levying criticism not at the acting mayor but on issues, right, and looking to hold the administration, just as I did the previous one, accountable — and looking for action on the crises the City of Boston is dealing with right now," Campbell said. "That of course includes the public health crisis at Mass and Cass, issues around policing reform, clearly the COVID-19 crisis we still have to grapple with and so much more."
Campbell did laud Janey for investments made on rental relief and down payment assistance but said Janey has made a number of "missteps or inaction of major crises."
On the city's COVID-19 response
Janey announced a vaccine mandate for city employees on Thursday, a decision that Campbell said took far too long.
"It would not have taken me weeks to make a decision that we should have made a long time ago," Campbell said, noting that the City Council adopted a vaccine mandate weeks before Janey implemented the policy for city workers.
Campbell said she supports policies similar to what New York City has adopted, requiring proof of vaccination for indoor settings like gyms, restaurants and museums. She also said that Janey's office was spreading misinformation around whether potential proof-of-vaccination requirements would extend to grocery stores; Janey had alluded to that being part of the policy, citing concerns around barriers to access for people of color.
"This does not involve grocery stores," Campbell clarified.
On Mass. and Cass
The area along Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, known as Mass and Cass, has become the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in Boston over the past year, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Campbell said that she grew up on Mass Ave and did not have to deal with the acute level of suffering that now exists there.
"I did not have needles in my parks, I did not have needles on the sidewalks, and I didn't have to step over bodies we didn't know was dead or alive," she said. "That's the state of affairs right now in the City of Boston, and it's absolutely unacceptable."
Campbell said she would appoint a Mass and Cass Chief with a healthcare background to coordinate all the stakeholders in the area, work to decentralize services from that area and reactivate the Long Island campus, as well as ferry service to and from the shelter that was closed in 2014.
On rent control
Fellow City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu has staked herself as the lone candidate in support of rent control. Campbell said she believes rent control is "not an effective tool" to bring housing costs down in the city, instead favoring tools already at the city's disposal.
In order to reinstate rent control, Boston would need to seek approval from the state legislature, something Campbell said there is no appetite at the state level to do.
"We can [address housing affordability and displacement] in the City of Boston so that it's not as expensive to live here," Campbell said. "There is a way to intentionally build more housing that is at affordable price points, that is for and designed for families, seniors, and be more intentional around that. The second piece of my plan talks about cutting the red tape and bureaucracy to allow for us to build that housing faster, which also would bring down the cost and meet the immediate need of families who are looking for affordable housing."