JP’s Maya Johnson Honored in 2023 Letters About Literature for Letter to ‘The Hate U Give’ Author

A Jamaica Plain teenager was honored by the Massachusetts Center for the Book 2023 Top Honor student writers for its Letters About Literature program. This Commonwealth-wide reading and writing initiative invites students from Grades 4 to 12 to write letters to authors about the books that have had special meaning to them. Jamaica Plain resident Maya Johnson, junior at Melrose High School, earned Honors in Level 3 for her letter to Angie Thomas about The Hate U Give. Fifteen honorees, representing the top 1.5% of this year’s program submissions, were celebrated at a virtual awards celebration on May 17. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Massachusetts author Alexandra Marshall commended the students on their work and also told them, as a writer, how important it is for authors to hear from readers, because authors write “with the wish to be read.”

"As a student of color in a predominately white school, the opportunity to read and access literature that reflects Maya's experience is powerful," said state Rep. Samantha Montaño (15th-D Suffolk) during the awards.


Sen. Miranda and Rep. Montaño Share Opinions on Rent Control

After the Boston City Council voted in support of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's rent control plan, that put the home-rule petition in the fate of the state Legislature. The plan would tie rent increases to inflation with a cap of 10% for Boston apartments. The plan exempts smaller landlords and units in buildings less than 15 year olds, and about 55% of Boston's 313,000 rental units would be affected if it becomes law, according to WBUR. With the measure now at the State House, it's important to know what state legislators think about it. Previously, Massachusetts voted to ban rent control in 1994, which is why a home-rule petition is required to make it law.


State Rep Candidates Talk About Housing, Climate Change, and More

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.


JP Progressives’ State Rep Forum on May 24

All four candidates running for the 15th Suffolk District state representative seat are scheduled to attend JP Progressives' candidate forum on May 24. The four candidates are Sam Montaño, Richard Fierro, Roxanne Longoria, and Mary Ann Nelson. The forum is scheduled to occur Tuesday, May 24 at 7 pm via Zoom. Click here to register to attend the forum.


Montaño Talks About State Rep Candidacy, Tenant Protections, Environmental Justice, and More

Jamaica Plain resident Sam Montaño is running to be the next 15th Suffolk District state representative. Montaño, 32, answered questions about affordable housing, racial equity, community organizing, and more. Q: Why did you decide to run for the 15th Suffolk District state representative seat? Montaño: I have been involved in JP as a community organizer for seven years. Once I moved to JP I immediately delved into the community; I ran for the JP Neighborhood Council and won a seat, I volunteered to mentor youth at Hyde Square Task Force, I participated in the JP/Rox planning process and advocated for affordable housing as a community member and through my work, I helped bring a youth center back to Mildred C. Hailey Apartments.