Prince: Please introduce yourself and tell us why you are running for city council at-large?
AEG: My name is Annissa Essaibi-George and I am running for city council at-large because I feel that there is a void at city hall. I am a mother and a Boston Public School teacher; and there are currently no mothers or teachers running for Boston City Council or sit at City Council At-Large. And lastly, I am a small business owner here at Dorchester (MA).
I think those three things specifically make me a great candidate for city council at large and that is why I am running.
Prince: What are your issues that you are advocating for as candidate for City Council At-Large?
AEG: The first issue that is most important to me is Public Education. I was a Boston Public School teacher, specifically in the High Schools, and I feel that the conversation of what we been having in the city over the last few years has not been a good conversation. We need to have a good analysis and assessment of what’s happening in the high schools. To believe it or not, we have 25 high schools in Boston; because none of our big high schools have been built around smaller schools. Since we have spent our time talking about the assignment process, which is a good conversation to have, we haven’t yet to talk about what’s happening in the upper grades: post-sixth to eight grades.
Other issues that are most important to me are small business and economic development in our neighborhoods—I think the Boston Main Streets Program, in particular, has been very good for the city. There are many pockets of empty store fronts in small business communities that have been left behind. And, I think that a strong economic plan for the city of Boston—which relates to small businesses–would really help a lot of our neighborhoods come along. Small businesses are the backbone of America and are certainly the backbone of Boston’s neighborhoods.
The third most important thing to me is public safety. We really need to get our community policing priorities in order: from gun violence to petty crimes that affect the quality of life.
Prince: What makes you qualified to be city councilor at large?
AEG: I think my three biggest experiences in my life are my qualifications as city councilor—number one, is a mother. As a mother, those experiences are invaluable: having kids that are enrolled school, having children that play in our parks, in our playgrounds, and in our streets. These experiences give me a very unique special outlook on what’s happening in our city.
Also my experiences as a Boston Public School teacher—teaching in high school for 12 years. I have had day to day contact with our youth in the city of Boston and I know the operations of a school system–which makes me very qualified.
Then lastly is Public Safety. My home has been broken into twice—once I caught the man in my own home. My business has been vandalized; my windows have been shot out. And so, these experiences and my experience as a small business owner, is what qualifies me as Boston City Councilor-At Large.
Prince: Tell me a personal story that has inspired you to run for office.
AEG: Well what has inspired me for running for office are a couple of things:
One, there is a lack of women in the race and it’s important to me that the races really reflect what our community looks like. We have a population that is basically 50% women and 50% men, but it is not reflected in the electorate. And so, that has inspired me, to step up and run.
What also inspired me are my children: my own children and my students. It is important to be a role model; it is important to step up and fill a void that you can fill—I believe I can do that. Then lastly what also inspired me is my personal experiences like for example public safety. When my home was broken into the first time, I actually caught the man in my house and I was very angry and upset; however, my neighbors and I were able to catch him, and put him behind bars. Again I feel those experiences have really created who I am as a person today.
So those are things that have inspired me: to step up and act, And that is what I am all about.
Prince: What promises do you hope to keep as city councilor?
AEG: I do not have any specific promises other than advocating for the residents of Boston. I will advocate for the youth of Boston—specifically the high schools and the teenage population because I feel most connected with them. I promise to be an honest person. I promise to be a hard worker—I am already a hard worker in my own rights. And I promise to be an advocate for the city of Boston.
Prince: As city councilor what would you do to attract people from all over the world to come to Boston, and invest their American Dream?
AEG: I think that Boston is certainly considered an international city—we are known throughout the world for having the finest universities and the finest institutions in terms of hospitals, art, culture, etc. However, what I will do to heighten our level, on the international arena, is work to create an environment where our most “at-risk” neighborhoods—most neglected neighborhoods—are lifted up to the same stance as Downtown Boston. I want our visitors to not just stop at the seaport district or Faneuil hall. I want our neighborhoods to be attractive and safe for everyone to visit.
Prince: Tell me an embarrassing story–on or off the campaign–that has reminded you that you are still human.
AEG: Well my four kids remind me on a daily day basis that I am not the only one running for office—there are other people running for the four at large seats. (laughing) So I suppose that it is not so much as an embarrassing reminder but a reality check. I have four boys—one that is eight and triplet seven year olds—and they are pretty upfront with their opinions on, “who will be elected?” or “who the competition is?”
Prince: Lastly in your own words, what makes Annissa Essaibi George so interesting?
What I think makes me so interesting is my story and my history: my Dad is from Tunisia and my mom is from Poland (they met in their early 20s), so I have a very diverse and ethnic background. I am very much of a Dot Red or a Dorchester girl [born and bred in Dorchester]; and married to a Dorchester native. So I have a very typical Dorchester story, but a rich ethnic background which I am very proud of.
I think what also makes me unique is the idea that I’m willing to take risks and I am willing to step out of my comfort zone. Teaching is a great career and I love being a teacher—I intend to teach again, either after I win the city council at-large seat or someday in the near future. It is something that I love and will do again. Furthermore, I strongly believe that one can teach while being an elected official—not formally. As long as you’re an elected official you are always giving back to the community: helping young people, being a good role model, and being a responsible advocate for young children.
Then lastly what also makes me unique is I own a small business store; and I teach knitting and sowing—that is an industry that not so many people participate in. So that too is what also makes me different.
To learn more about Annissa and her platforms go to: www.annissaforboston.com