West Roxbury resident Bill MacGregor is one of three candidates vying for the 10th Suffolk County District representative seat being vacated. MacGregor spoke with Jamaica Plain News about mental health services, addressing the impact of COVID, and increasing homeownership opportunities.
All three candidates are Democrats, and would face off in a May 2 Democratic primary. The winner will advance to a May 30 special election, to face any other party's nominee or independent candidates, of which there are none so far.
Read a Q&A with candidate Rob Orthman here. Read a Q&A with candidate Celia Segel.
Q: What neighborhood do you live in?
MacGregor: West Roxbury
Q: What is your profession?
MacGregor: I’m currently a loan officer with a focus on helping low-income and middle class people find pathways to home ownership. Prior to that, I was Chief of Staff and Community Liaison for District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley for over a decade.
Q: Why are you running for the 10th Suffolk District state rep seat?
MacGregor: I am running because the 10th Suffolk District deserves an effective and responsive state representative that will fight for our communities. I grew up in the 10th Suffolk District, and now my wife, Lisa, and I are raising our two daughters here. I want them to grow up in and surrounded by supported, healthy, and well represented neighborhoods. I believe that my district deserves someone whose door is always open and who always has their back.
I see the issues this district and the Commonwealth are facing, and I want to make a meaningful impact: Supporting policies that address inflation and the rising cost of living; Expanding access to quality public education for families; increased funding for special education and the creation of universal early childhood care; Bringing resources back to the district to support community-based organizations and nonprofits; Increased investment in mental health services; Affordable health care and tax relief for seniors; and always providing accessible and responsive constituent services.
I'm running to help create a Massachusetts that Eloise, Millie, and all of our kids can grow up in feeling and being supported.
Q: The 10th Suffolk District became part of Jamaica Plain due to redistricting. Jamaica Plain's socioeconomics vary neighborhood to neighborhood. How would you describe the part of Jamaica Plain that is in the 10th Suffolk District?
MacGregor: Jamaica Plain is a vibrant and diverse community. It has a long history of activism and advocacy for creating a welcoming community and furthering social justice. This part of the district is home to the Arnold Arboretum and Jamaica Pond, both incredible places of tranquility and refuge for families, residents, and visitors.
I was proud to serve in Councilor Matt O’Malley’s office over a decade, where I worked with constituents across the neighborhood in Jamaica Plain, from Forest Hills to Hyde Square, communities surrounding the Southwest Corridor Park, and with businesses up and down Centre Street and beyond.
Q: What are the three biggest issues that face the 10th Suffolk District? Please provide specific ways you will work to solve them.
MacGregor: Housing and pathways to homeownership, mental health access, and early education and care are three of the biggest issues facing the 10th Suffolk District and the rest of the city right now.
Last year, landmark legislation was passed to create parity with mental health care. We must continue to address the myriad challenges related to mental health and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will advocate for investments in early education programs that provide critical relief for our families – currently, childcare costs are unsustainable for most families and force many low and moderate income residents out of our communities. We must expedite the creation of more housing stock to allow older residents to either downsize or age in place. We must also work with municipal governments to prioritize the creation of multi-bedroom housing units that allow for families to find affordable places to live.
There are many other solutions towards addressing these issues that I look forward to working on in office and collaborating with constituents and advocacy groups to solve. We can do so much more to address these challenges than we’re doing right now, and I look forward to getting to work.
Q: What legislation would you propose in your first 100 days in office?
MacGregor: I am excited to partner with advocacy groups and former policymakers, such as former state Rep. Liz Malia, to address issues like mental health and substance abuse through partnering with other states to expand licensing eligibility and increasing access to postpartum screenings for new mothers; housing development and pathways to homeownership through zoning relief and incentivizing the creation of affordable housing; and budget initiatives that will increase funding for early education and care.
Though the bill filing deadline for the 193rd session has passed, I plan on signing on to legislation that will move West Roxbury and Roslindale into MBTA Zone 1A so that Commuter Rail riders are paying the same costs as their neighbors to ride the T. I’m excited about proposals to create a senior center in West Roxbury, and will do my part in increasing support for senior care and programming. I also look forward to signing onto key pieces of legislation that protect access to reproductive health, legislation that expands green and reusable energy access and green retrofits to houses and small developments, legislation that will eliminate the dangers and exploitation of wage theft, legislation that will establish a safe patient:nurse ratio in our hospitals, and legislation that will help our school districts and colleges address rising costs of education and failing infrastructure.
Q: What prior experiences, work, and/or volunteering will help you represent the 10th Suffolk District well?
MacGregor: I served as Community Liaison and Chief of Staff to former City Councilor Matt O’Malley for over a decade. In that time, I worked to protect our environment and wetlands and secure funds for our parks and open space, I brought developers and community stakeholders together to find common ground on developments in our district, I helped expand access to menstrual products in Boston Public Schools, and worked on thousands of constituent cases -- helping my neighbors navigate their most urgent challenges. I have the policy background and constituent service experience to start this job on day one.
I also know the importance of our neighborhood groups, as I am a board member of the Charles River/Spring Valley Neighborhood Association. The work our locally elected volunteers do to advocate for their neighbors is something I’ll never take for granted.
As a loan officer, I’ve seen the way that individuals and families are struggling to find housing. Too many in the 10th Suffolk District -- and the rest of the Commonwealth -- know how hard it is to access pathways to home ownership and find affordable options for renting and buying. I have the firsthand knowledge necessary to help shape the solutions that will address our housing crisis.