Prince: Please introduce yourself and tell us why you’re running for City Councilor At-Large?
JK: My name is Jack Kelly and I am a candidate for Boston City Councilor At-Large. I grew up in Charlestown, which is a neighborhood in Boston, and I am a lifelong Bostonian. I am running for Boston City Councilor At Large because I believe that I can effectively help solve some of the outstanding issues here in the city; and be a pragmatic voice of change. I have enough experience to hit the ground running when I get in office.
Prince: What are your issues that you’re advocating for as a candidate for City Councilor At-Large?
JK: Number one, [like the Mayoral and City Council At-Large candidates] we need to fix our Boston Public School system which is definitely one of my big issues; Two, is substance abuse and violence; and three is jobs.
For the school system, I believe in neighborhood schools. I think a lot of people can appreciate that if a school is right down the street from their home, it will be the best option for their children and/or themselves. Having neighborhood schools will allow parents to be more involved in school, and kids will be more cohesive in school activities. However, the problem in Boston is that not all schools are created equal. And so the question that we continue to have for a long time is, “how do we get to neighborhood schools?” My answer is that we need to fix the neighborhoods, so we can then fix the school system. I believe that they are not two issues that exist in a vacuum; they co-exist in our ecosystem. If we fix one then we can fix the other.
Prince: What makes you qualified to be City Councilor At-Large?
JK: I am a proud Local 7 ironworker and I spent three years working in the field—it was one of biggest aids that have pulled me out of substance abuse. Afterwards I was appointed to be neighborhood liaison for Charlestown–working for Mayor Tom Menino. I spent five and a half years working in that role, from advocating money in the budget to important issues that concerned the citizens of Boston. I navigated city hall to help constituents get through a lot of the bureaucracy that existed in municipal services, which many don’t often receive. So in my opinion, that particular job in conjunction with my experience as an Ironworker [working right in the field, using my own hands] makes me qualified. Also working this past year for Massachusetts General Hospital, I helped reduce the rates of HIV and Hepatitis C in the city of Boston. So again I can really hit the ground running as soon as I’m in office.
Prince: Tell me a personal story that has inspired you to run for office.
JK: I can tell you that I have a lot of stories that have inspired me; I have been touched by the human spirit of people’s stories. But a personal story was when I was living homeless right on the corner of Kingston St in Downtown Boston—I spent six months living at that homeless shelter. However I turned my life around, and that experience has inspired me to help those who have been affected by harmful and addictive substances. I have a lot of friends that have died from substance abuse, and when I see the violence that is happening in places like Mattapan or Dorchester, I know that those people need help. Just like Charlestown and the rest of Boston, we are one issue; one community; and we are one city. I know—when I get inside the doors of city hall—that I will be no other City Councilor. I can really touch people uniquely and give them hope; and that is what inspired me.
Prince: What are your promises that you hope to keep as City Councilor At Large?
JK: My promise is that I will be an advocate for increasing jobs in the city; and for communities that need them. I will also be an advocate for people and for housing. One of the things that I can assure you, no matter what, is that I will never ever take a vote out of political cowardice. I will always [always] vote on principle and with my heart.
Prince: As City Councilor At-Large, What will you do to attract people from all over the world to come to Boston and invest in their American Dream?
JK: I will highlight everything that Boston already has to offer. We have a great city; and we have a great reputation all around the world. Every place that I have ever been to, when you say you are from Boston, people get excited—they just love Boston. Boston has a great reputation, so we need to enhance that and make sure that we are promoting it everywhere. Some of the things that the mayor has done are pretty good and all we need to do is expand on it, like the sister programs that we have now. And we must reach out to the Massachusetts Bureau of Tourism and really invest in ways to get people to come to Boston as a tourist destination.
The history of our city—which is uniquely tied to our maritime, our colleges, our sports teams, etc.—needs to be highlighted continuously to all over the world. Whether it’s an All-Star game at Fenway Park or a convention on the waterfront, we need to continue to make sure that we are attracting people to come to these events in Boston. Furthermore, we need to meet with business leaders from all over the world to have their events in Boston. There is no bigger promoter in Boston than me.
Prince: Tell me an embarrassing story that you have done, on or off the campaign, that has reminded you that you are still human?
JK: (Laughing) Every day that I wake up is an embarrassing story; and today it has actually happened to me. I had a situation this morning where I was looking for my union endorsement paper to have it sent to the office; but I could not find it. I asked my girlfriend where she put the endorsement paper, [knowing that she had nothing to do with it] but I ended up finding the endorsement in my car–I did not find it until I called the union and asked them to resend it to me. So, I do stuff like that all the time. Believe me when I say that I am human every hour of the day.
Prince: Lastly, in your own words, what makes Jack Kelly so interesting?
JK: (Laughing) What makes me so interesting? If you ask the people that I work with, they can tell you how interesting I am. But really, I think that I am a genuine person. I believe in, “what you see, is what you get.” I am not cute and I don’t play games—I am very transparent with who I am. I am running for political office, and I put on my political literature that I am a recovering drug addict–how many people will do that? I believe in that sense that I am interesting because I put everything out there.
To follow Jack Kelly and his platforms go to www.jackkellyforboston.com