Prince: Please introduce yourself and please tell us why you are running for City Council At-Large?
MK: My name is Martin Keogh and I am running for the Boston City Council At Large. I’m asking people for one of their four votes. The reason why I am running is because I want excellent schools for my neighborhood; and safer neighborhoods. I want safer neighborhoods for my kids, your kids, and kids throughout the city of Boston.
Prince: What are your issues that you are advocating for as a Boston City Council At-Large Candidate?
MK: Number One is Safer Neighborhoods. Right now, in the last month: there was a murder in South Boston; a couple of murders in Dorchester; assaults in Beacon Hill, the North End, and Chinatown. When I get into City Council, I would like to make the effort to hire at least 300 or more police officers over the next few years. I also want to make sure that we have the funding to give police the technological tools that they need to fight crime.
For example: I want to have cameras in high crime areas so we can catch criminals right at the scene; I want provide enough money to fund the enhanced 9-1-1 system, so police can respond to the location of the phone call immediately; and, I want to see more foot and bike controls particularly in our inner city neighborhoods, where the crimes seem to be the worst. Out here in West Roxbury, the crime rate seems to be low because we do have police officers walking around on the streets. If you go out to Dorchester, Roxbury, or more of the inner-city neighborhoods, there are a lot more drugs and a lot more crime. I think if we have a bigger and higher police presence in those areas, then that will decrease the crime rates in those neighborhoods—and make that community a place where people can move-in to.
Along with safer neighborhoods, I am an advocate for schools. I want to have excellent schools in every single neighborhood. The way it is right now not everybody, who lives in the neighborhood, get the school of their choice. I want to make efforts to start building schools in every single neighborhood and I would like to have the people that live in that neighborhood have first choice in getting that school. But I would also like, for families—that don’t want to send their kids to a school in their neighborhood—to have the choice to choose a different school somewhere else in Boston. We have the space, the money, and the parents that want it.
Now if you tie both of these issues together (safe neighborhoods and better neighborhood schools), it is the number one reason why people move into a city—and it’s also the number one reason of why people move out of a city. That’s what I want to do. I want to make our city vibrant again, but particularly doing it for my little boy Nolan. He is 2 years old and he is going to the public schools in the next two years. I want him to get a school of his choice and an excellent education. I want books, arts, sports, music, etc. I want everything that a kid should have in a school—curricular and extra-curricular activities—and grow up in a safe neighborhood.
Prince: What makes you qualified to be City Councilor At Large?
MK: Well for the last 14 years, I have been an attorney who has represented kids that got into trouble with the law; and has placed them on a better path. I did that because I was one of those kids who got into trouble with the law. I learned a lot from my troubled past and I never forgotten the people who have helped me. And during my time as an attorney, I have also helped the elderly who got scammed by contractors; and those who were in danger of losing their homes—a couple of people were able to save their homes, but it is a losing battle. Prior from that, I have worked for two different City Council At-Large Councilors. I have learned to write, draft, and research legislation that contributed to the quality of life for the whole city of Boston.
I know what it takes to work at the City Council’s office—I have worked there and I have seen all the activities that go on in there. My time at the City Council At-Large office was a great experience; it has kept me in public service. I enjoy doing public service. So, if I were to put it in a nut shell, I would say, “I have the experience; I have the knowledge; and the ideas that you need to be on the Boston City Council.” This in addition to my life-long residency as a Bostonian uniquely qualifies me to be City Councilor At-Large—I have went to the Boston Public Schools and I know the streets, especially where crime is bad. I know a lot more about the city of Boston than the rest of the candidates in this race.
Prince: Tell me a personal story that has inspired you to run for office.
MK: The main reason why I’m running is because of my little boy, Nolan. When I was working for City Council 10 years ago—and even today—there are a lot of people who don’t get their neighborhood schools; and it drives me bananas. There was a time when my family was trying to get schools right next to our house, and the families that couldn’t get those schools ended up leaving the neighborhood. So my personal experience with the Boston Public School System has inspired me to help parents get the schools of their choice—I want my kid to get his school.
Prince: What promises do you hope to keep as a City Councilor At-Large?
MK: Again it goes right back to safer neighborhoods and neighborhood schools. If I get on City Council, I am going to be a staunch advocate to make sure that parents get a neighborhood school of their choice—if they don’t want one I will not force it on them. However, having a neighborhood school of your choice isn’t the only problem that we need to fix: schools need to be funded. Schools need to make sure that they have money for books, arts, sports, etc. a lot of which schools don’t have including Special Ed programs which are mandated by the state. My promise to the people of Boston is that I am going to be all about the Boston Public Schools. If your kid goes to the Boston Public Schools, I want to make sure that you have a school that you like and it has everything that you need.
The second promise I am going to make is keeping our streets safe. I think that the Boston Police are doing a good job right now but I think that they can do more. They need more police officers on the street, especially when police officers are retiring year after year or leave due to other reasons. I want them to have the technology they need to fight crime. I do not believe that we are far from other cities across the US, but I want to be sure that they are up to par with them. One thing that I would like to do [especially with the Marathon Bombing] is catch criminals within five days of sight. This will make Boston safe for everybody.
The third promise is affordable housing. We need to build schools, business districts, or even homes on land that is provided by Dept. of Neighborhood Development—which has thousands of land to build parcels on. I want to be sure that those parcels are used for a specific purpose. Let’s say that you can’t afford to buy a house because you don’t make enough money; but you make $30-$50k a year. What I would like to do is give you a piece of land and we can go to Citizens Bank to ask them to loan you money because you are qualified—you can pay that mortgage. I want you to build that house and live there. In the long run, people will be able to afford a house. So, my promise is to create more affordable housing.
Prince: What would you do to attract people from all over the world to come to Boston and invest in their American Dream?
MK: Let me rephrase that question but in a different way: “What will happen if we don’t have safe neighborhoods or safe neighborhood schools?” The answer is people will not stay here. We have the colleges; the universities; the hospitals; innovation districts; and the seaport. We have all these things to attract people, but as soon as they enter the workforce they get lured away—people are leaving our city. Five years ago, if I was offered a job in Seattle I might take off because they have a job for me. However, I now have family and I want them here in Boston. I want families to stay and raise their kids here. But the thing is that there are too many temptations for young adults and professionals to leave Boston.
So I want to make sure that we have safe neighborhoods; neighborhood schools; and affordable housing. In regards to affordable housing, you can’t live in the city of Boston, if you can’t afford $2,000 to $2500 a month minimum rent. We need more housing so people can have an affordable place to live.
Prince: Tell me an embarrassing story on or off the campaign that has reminded you that you are still human?
MK: There is probably a dozen of stories at least, but one in particular was when
I was at Darryl’s Cafe. On my way out of the cafe, [while I was saying goodbye to my friend] I accidentally walked into to the Men’s room. The Men’s room was right next to the exit door, but I happen to go into Men’s room. When I realized this, I decided to stay there for a few seconds so people would think I meant to use the bathroom instead. However, when I walked out my friend came up to me and said, “You meant to go out the front door, right?” (Laughing) And I said “Yes.”
It was embarrassing but also funny. I am one of those people that I don’t take myself so seriously, if I do make joke out of myself. There was one time when I was at Forest Hills and somebody asked me if I was running for mayor. I replied, “I am not smart enough to run for mayor but I was dumb enough to run for city council” Of course, I do not think of myself like that, but it’s an example of how I don’t take myself seriously. I am the type of guy that if you do ask a question, I will answer from the heart—sometimes what comes out of my mouth should’ve been said more eloquently. The one thing about me is that I can look at myself in the mirror, and won’t be embarrassed of what I see.
Prince: Lastly in your own words what makes, Martin Keogh so interesting?
MK: Well let me tell you this: I was born in the Mission Hill projects; I grew up at Hyde Park; and I now live at West Roxbury. For the last 14 years, I was an attorney who has represented kids that got in trouble with the law. When I was young, I got into a lot of fights in high school which subsequently made me a high school drop-out. A lot of people say, “how can you be a lawyer, if you’re a high school drop out?” My response is my mother.
She said to me, “You better get your GED, or you are out of the house!” And that is what happened: I got my GED; I went to Boston College; and I attended law school. My reason for going to law school is so I can be a criminal defense attorney to help kids who were like me. Some people, who are “good people,” do get into trouble—and they do make mistakes, including myself. If you speak to any of my clients, they will say to you that I was their best lawyer that they ever had. What I will say is that I was just doing what I would have done for myself.
My wife is from Dorchester; my little boy is two years old; and I love being a father—it’s great. There is nothing in the world that I wouldn’t do to change it. When people say, “you always want the best for your kid,” you don’t know how true that is until you have one. I want my kid to have great schools and a great experience growing up—I want this to be the best part of his life. So that is what makes me unique. I am also one of two candidates, from the 19 candidate pool, that went to the Boston Public Schools. I think that my history; my mistakes; and the progress that I’ve made, makes me a unique candidate for the Boston City Council-At Large. If you talk to someone else, they will tell you that I’m the funniest guy you’ve ever met (laughing). However, I am a pretty serious guy.
To follow Martin Keogh and his platforms go to www.martinjkeogh.com