Longtime Jamaica Plain resident Mary Church recently announced his first foray into running for the at-large Boston City Council race.
Church, 50, has lived in Jamaica Plain for 30 years, and lived in Allston, Fenway and Roslindale prior to JP. She grew up in Somerville, New Jersey (a different Somerville). She moved to Boston for college, fell in love with the city, and never left.
Church fielded questions from Jamaica Plain News about her candidacy, what she would do if elected and more.
Q: What is your profession?
Church: I have worked in Higher Education and Education for the past twenty years, specifically in the areas of Student Financial Assistance and Financial Aid. Some of the work that I am most proud of doing is working with first generation college students to assist them in removing financial barriers and creating access to higher education.
I’m currently the Director of Financial Aid at Boston College High School. In the past I’ve worked at Wheelock College and Northeastern University School of Law (where I managed the school’s Loan Deferral and Forgiveness Program which assists graduates in public interest work with their student loan payments). I plan on leaving BC High this month to focus on the campaign. I plan on getting a flexible job and we will see what happens after the election.
Q: What is your educational background?
Church: I actually worked at Northeastern University and received my BS/BA in Business Management. I recently completed my Master's in Education also at Northeastern with a focus on Education Administration.
Q: How many children do you have?
Church: I have one daughter who is 18 years old and has attended Boston Public Schools from K2-12 grade. She attended the Curley School in Jamaica Plain and is currently at Boston Latin School. She will be going to Northeastern University in the fall to study nursing.
Q: You recently announced your candidacy to run for the at-large city council seats. What made you want to run?
Church: It's funny. I have always been highly interested in politics. When I was younger I had the honor of volunteering for Governor Michael Dukakis' campaign for the presidency and that was such an exciting thing to participate in. With everything that is going on in our city now, more than ever, I thought why not me? I am a person who does not own a car, cannot afford to buy a home and have invested my life and resources into the city. I think I may be able to represent a slice of our population like myself, single parents, BPS families, renters in need of affordable housing and voters that rely on public transportation to navigate our city.
Q: From your tweets it looks like transportation is a big issue for you. What do you think of residents being charged money for residential parking permits?
Church: At first I agreed fully with Councilor Michelle Wu that all permits should have a charge (with exceptions like low income families) but I do understand and see that those who own one car often do need it. For example parents and families with young children who need to be dropped off and picked up at childcare and need to be in car seats. Perhaps getting the first car free and then charging for additional cars or vehicles could be a compromise that might satisfy most of our residents.
Q: What are the major issues that concern you as a candidate?
Church: Affordable housing. Making sure that developers contribute to the communities that they are coming into in meaningful ways -- parking, green spaces, supporting local organizations and schools, more access to affordable housing and increasing the percentage available for projects. More dedicated bus lanes and bike lanes. Supporting local arts and music forums so they can remain open and provide spaces that allow for artists and musicians to be creative. In the past I was a radio DJ for the local on-line radio station, WEMF, so supporting local music is a personal passion of mine. So much more but that might be enough for now!
Q: How would you address these concerns as a city councilor?
Church: As a constituent and resident of Boston for 30 years, I respect and want to hear from as many of our residents as I can and make sure that I can champion and represent our residents that may have less of a voice or access to resources they need and deserve. I think that one important thing is to listen and really understand those who maybe are against something you think is important and valuable and validating their right to their opinion and then having open dialogue to work towards a solution that will benefit the city as a whole, this may involve compromises but we are stronger working together than we are working alone.
Q: You're a Boston Public Schools parent. What is your opinion on the status of BPS and how would you improve BPS?
Church: I am lucky that I have had a very positive experience at BPS. The reason being that my daughter has had the most wonderful teachers along the way that have encouraged her and inspired me. The bureaucracy of BPS however can be frustrating and stressful for many families. For example, when my daughter was in first grade I filed paperwork to change her bus stop to her after school program and the paperwork did not go through for myself and any of the families in the same situation for two weeks. We tried working with the transportation department and they were not empathetic or supportive. We were lucky the after school center offered to pick the kids up from school and take them on the local bus to get to the program. Other working families and parents may not be so lucky in these situations.
Q: What else would you like people to know about you?
Church: As I mentioned previously, I love local music and art and my work as a local DJ has exposed me to the most amazing, talented and creative artists and musicians. These particular Boston residents just want to be able to afford to live, work, create -- in a local affordable practice space or studio -- and have an outlet to have their art and music experienced. As development continues these type of venues and spaces are the first to fall and our artists and musicians are forced to leave our city. Other cities like Salem and Providence have welcomed them with open arms and both cities have vibrant first class art and music scenes. We need to make sure we preserve what we have here so we don't lose many of our most creative residents.
I am a hat person and obsessed with Salmagundi's for Ladies and Gents (in JP) and the Galway House (also in JP) has the best wings in Boston!