The Daily Free Press met with City Councilor-At-Large and mayoral candidate Sam Yoon last week for a candid interview. Yoon, both casual and well-spoken, voiced his lofty goals to upend Mayor Thomas Menino’s current reign. And while he talked an eloquent talk, he tended to lack the concrete solutions that would enable him to walk the walk.
Yoon’s main strong point is his strength as a community organizer. He prides himself in being the anti-politico, planning on restructuring the city’s government from the inside out by starting with their communities and working based on their needs and concerns. He also wants to close the gap between college campuses and surrounding neighborhoods, and in turn take Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes arrangements out of the backroom and into the public eye. In short, Yoon’s efforts will be concentrated on bringing together a city historically divided and bigoted, which he openly admitted is one of Boston’s most debilitating problems.
And while this all presents a tantalizing glow of hope similar to the one President Barack Obama conjured in his constituents during his presidential race last year, there remains a question mark-shaped void in Yoon’s promises: How? Some evidence found in his track record as City Councilor-At-Large seems to conflict with his campaign promises. For example, Yoon wants to integrate the college and community spheres throughout the city, but he voted for the ‘No More Than Four’ legislation, which aims to keep college students from sprawling into off-campus residential neighborhoods. And while he did admit that if he were to revisit the decision, he would have included college students and community members in the dialogue, he also held that he would have likely still voted for the ordinance.
Also, it was hypocritical for Yoon to march in last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which excluded the city’s gay and lesbian population. Yoon admits he did so, and does not regret doing so, purely because he was an At-Large candidate at the time, and it would’ve been politically irresponsible not to march. This incident, which socially transcends far beyond just a simple parade march, directly conflicts with Yoon’s claim that he wants to take the politics out of city government.
It is these types of inconsistencies that weaken Yoon’s campaign. His strengths lie in the ideas ‘- he is clearly well versed regarding Boston’s fundamental problems and their sources. But where Yoon falters is in action. His past actions erode the legitimacy of his campaign claims, and his plans for future actions if he is elected as mayor remain vague and heretofore full of holes.