Noemi Ramos, director for New England United 4 Justice, encouraged forum attendees to listen to candidates’ responses closely and to hold the individual elected accountable to the promises he or she makes.
“We have a whole set of candidates that want your vote,” she said. “But just as we can vote them into office, we also have the power to vote them out of office. Our community deserves a say on the issues that impact us everyday and too many times we hear that they [elected officials] will create jobs, but we haven’t seen enough.”
City Councilor John Connolly, a frontrunner in the mayoral race, said public schooling is important to job creation, a concept he has spoken about throughout the election.
“I’m running for mayor to transform our schools,” he said. “Better Boston Public Schools are going to make people better trained for today’s economy and tomorrow’s economy, and I think we can connect our schools to employment across the city to create internships for every high school student and to start to shift those summer jobs to year-round jobs.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley spoke about his plan, titled “Better Jobs Now,” which contains 54 recommendations on how to create more jobs.
“First and foremost, what we need to do is enforce the Boston Jobs Ordinance — that law is not being enforced, it needs to be expanded, it needs to grow,” he said. “We need to find out where our job training programs are and to talk to employers about their needs.”
The Boston Jobs Ordinance was established in 1983 to increase employment opportunities for Boston residents, workers of color and women on City of Boston construction projects and to monitor labor standards on these projects.
Community activist Bill Walczak said he already created over 400 jobs in the city of Boston, and he would continue on this path by building more “innovation districts.”
“We need to recruit companies to come and create jobs in innovation districts,” he said. “Instead of a casino in East Boston, I’d like to see an innovation district there that provides good jobs with good wages and career academies in high schools that are connected to those innovation districts so that the people working are from Boston Public Schools.”
City Councilor Mike Ross said Boston should be more advanced in technical vocational education.
“I believe we need a technical vocational school that’s second to none,” he said. “… We of all cities should be able to do that and to teach our kids real skills so that they can get a job immediately out of school.”
City Councilor Felix Arroyo said he understands the struggles of many residents.
“I know what it’s like to turn on the oven for heat, I know what it’s like to boil water to have a hot bath, and I know what it’s like to need a summer job when you’re 14 years old, but I’ve benefitted from a lot of opportunities in this city and my campaign is about making sure more people benefit from opportunities like this,” he said.
Ellie Tiglao, 28, resident of Jamaica Plain, said although she was undecided, she liked what Arroyo had to say.
“It’s kind of hard because they seem to all be saying the same things, but if I had to go with my gut, [I would pick] Arroyo,” she said. “I think we need to get people out of poverty.”
Arinay Perez, 18, high school student from Dorchester, said she was skeptical about the candidates’ promises.
“I like John Barros [former Boston Public School Committee member] because he is not saying what everyone else is,” she said. “Most people were just repeating what other candidates said. That makes me feel that they are lying and that they won’t actually follow through once elected.”