The four candidates for the 15th Suffolk District state representative seat discussed their leadership style, the housing crisis, pandemic, climate change, and more during an online JP Progressives forum on May 24. The four candidates Richard Fierro, Roxanne Longoria, Sam Montaño, and Mary Ann Nelson will face each other in the primary election on September 6, and the winner will advance to the general election on November 8.
With the scheduled moderator Julio Valero unable to attend the forum, Vanessa Snow (from Mijente and RTCV), Cindy Lu (from JP Progressives), and Melissa Beltran (from JP Progressives) moderated the conversation between candidates. The forum consisted of candidate opening statements with their top three priorities, in-depth and rapid-fire questions, and candidate closing statements. Below is a summary of each candidate’s opening statement, responses to in-depth questions, and closing statements.
Below is a full recording of the forum.
Candidate Opening Statements:
Fierro is a graduate student at Northeastern University studying public administration. He spoke about his time working for Boston’s 311 constituent services office, the governor’s operations office, and Boston’s Elections Department. “Although I am not originally from here, I have grown to love the city and beautiful Jamaica Plain, and I am proud to call myself a Bostonian,” Fierro said.
He said that Massachusetts “must create an example for the rest of the country and push comprehensive legislation for green energy and climate resilience, for addiction and recovery services, for housing stability, and for universal Pre-K and tuition-free community college."
Fierro’s top three priorities are climate change, child care and education, and affordable housing.
“I’m running for state representative because I know who is affected when systems fail and I want to use my lived experience to be part of the solution,” Longoria said.
Longoria spoke about her experience working within former Mayor Marty Walsh's administration as Director of Youth Homelessness Initiatives and how she “saw how we need elected officials who understand firsthand the challenges facing our city and its residents."
“I will build coalitions to help achieve the rent control, climate justice, transit funding, and the criminal legal system reform our city and state desperately need,” Longoria said.
Montaño opened their speech with a brief acknowledgment of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Montaño then introduced themselves as a “queer, nonbinary Latino who uses she/they pronouns.” They spoke about their experiences that informed “two priorities: housing and substance abuse and recovery with mental health investments.” In addition, Montaño prioritizes environmental justice and “holding space for communities of color as they navigate this quickly changing climate.”
“For the last eight years, I have been deeply engaged in JP, from advocating for and leading community processes for affordable housing as an organizer with JPNDC to working with Mildred C. Hailey [Apartments] youth in supporting them in their successful campaign for a youth center and painting the unity mural that you see on 273 Centre Street in response to the gun violence that happened,” they said.