Jamaica Plain resident Alex Gray, who's dedicated his entire professional career to public service, is running to be a At-Large Boston City Councilor.
Gray would be the first-ever blind Boston City Councilor. Born with a genetic condition that caused him to begin losing his vision at eight, he learned to adapt to a world not designed for all people. He had to fight for himself to stay in a traditional public school while in middle school amid protests from administrators. This experience made him understand the value of special education and how important it is to students and their family.
"I wasn’t born blind, but I am proud of how it has shaped me to become the person I am today: someone who understands challenges and wants to share that experience to serve the people of Boston," said Gray on his campaign website. "It has taught me about adversity and the value of advocating for others, because my parents and my teachers advocated for me to remain and succeed in public school."
Gray currently works as a policy analyst in City Hall where he worked to start Boston's first-ever tuition free community college plan. He's also worked on creating and expanding a program providing Boston Public School students savings accounts, led city efforts to advocate for an increase to the earned income tax credit, and expanded job training for Bostonians.
"I would like to expand on the important work I have done in Mayor Walsh’s Office of
Workforce Development to develop career pathways that both pay a living wage and provide benefits to workers," said Gray to Jamaica Plain News. "As a city-wide, city
councilor, I could connect with many employers and businesses to explore ways to bring work opportunities to Boston residents throughout the city."
"From my work as a housing advocate, to my role as Governor Patrick’s advisor on transportation and public safety, to my current position in Mayor Walsh’s Office of Workforce Development, I have found that by listening to those impacted, a good policy idea can be made great and a community can begin to thrive. I know that a community can begin to thrive when policy centers on the needs of people first," said Gray.
Gray told Jamaica Plain News that he believes the top issue facing Jamaica Plain, and other places, is how to deal with and recover from COVID-19.
"It is clear that without a strong national response it falls on cities to take the
lead. In JP, we are seeing that as people struggle to find affordable
and accessible housing options during an economic crisis," said Gray. "I am also
concerned about the businesses: the restaurants and shops across our
neighborhood, that make JP such a lively place to live and that
provide jobs to our residents and that are being hit hard due to the
Powerful vigil in Jamaica Plain at the courthouse to honor an icon of the legal profession, Justice Ginsburg pic.twitter.com/5JeVpTJFBE
— Alex Gray (@alexjgray) September 20, 2020
As an advisor to former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, among policies he worked on, was the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, a community-based strategy that combines public health and public safety to deal with serious violence among high-risk, urban youth.
"In this time when we face unprecedented challenges, from the unimaginable impacts of COVID-19 to the enduring impacts of long-existing racial inequities, I know that every voice deserves and needs to be heard," said Gray. "Because it was the voices of those who told me their stories—the guidance counselor in Roxbury, the residents along the Fairmount Line, and the individuals facing homelessness - who all helped me to truly understand the important issues. I know that the best decisions are made when all voices are heard, and I am ready to make sure City Hall is listening."