By David Ertischek
Boston mayoral candidate and current District 8 City Councilor Mike Ross answered questions about climate change, Boston's schools and whether he's the candidate in the best shape.
Patch: As mayor what can you do to decrease violence in Boston?
Ross: I believe the opposite of violence isn’t peace, it’s opportunity. That’s why my public safety plan focuses on the need for more educational and job opportunities, so that we can keep kids on a path away from violence. Beyond that, we need to modernize our police department with the latest technology and do more to build relationships between the police and the communities. One way to do that is building more local police substations, especially in high-crime neighborhoods, so that people know where to find the police.
Patch: What would you do with the current school assignment plan?
Ross: We need to give it a chance to work. We went through a community process and now we need to see if this plan is workable in the long term. The real question is how we address the schools that no parents want to send their kids to. I think we do that by increasing early childhood education and lengthening the school day, starting in the communities that need it most.
Patch: How will you utilize innovative technological advancements to keep Boston being one of the most modern cities in the world?
Ross: Our city needs to be as innovative as our people. That means providing more government services online and through mobile apps, so that residents have the option of getting the services they need without having to come to city hall. That also means transparency and publishing city data so that our vibrant community of start-ups, entrepreneurs and Web developers can unlock solutions city hall hasn’t thought of. We also can’t be afraid to take the best ideas from other places. When crime was getting out of control on the Boston Common, I led a delegation down to New York City to find out how they had tackled similar problems in Bryant Park and other places.
Patch: You want to deputize meter maids. Why?
Ross: That idea came up during a forum on environmental issues. We were discussing ways to combat air pollution in Boston as well as reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Idling—leaving a car or truck parked and on—is a huge contributor to both. It’s actually a ticketable offense, but we only have a few people to cover the whole city. I suggested deputizing our parking enforcement officers to also be able to give out tickets for idling. They already are out walking the streets, and would be in a great position to tackle this problem.
Patch: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will leave the city in very good financial standing, especially considering the recent recession. What is your budgetary experience, and how will you foster financial growth for Boston?
Ross: As president of the City Council for two years and chair of the Ways and Means Committee for four years, I have extensive experience managing the budgetary process for our city in significant leadership positions. I also have an MBA degree from Boston University, which has provided me with a strong understanding of financial management issues. To foster financial growth and stability we must develop more, and faster, so that Boston can continue the great growth it’s seen under Tom Menino. More development, especially in our neighborhoods, helps us expand our tax base and also keeps housing prices from rising too quickly.
Patch: What color are your candidate signs? Why did you go with that design?
Ross: Our signs are white and blue, and besides my name they include my slogan 'Boston Smarter,' which is about using innovative ideas to create jobs, improve our schools, and modernize government. They are also vertical which makes them stand out as well. The design was a collaboration between my staff and me. We’re proud of it.
Patch: Climate change and how it will affect Boston is a huge topic for the future, what are your plans to deal with climate change?
Ross: Climate change will have a huge impact on Boston, one we’re already starting to see. If Hurricane Sandy had hit during high tide instead of low tide some experts say that floodwaters would have reached to city hall. To reduce our carbon footprint and build our city to be resilient to a changing climate we need the courage to follow through on the city's recent climate action plan, which stresses alternative transportation, making our buildings more energy efficient, and using more energy from renewable sources. We also know that climate change is here—that means looking for ways to strengthen and protect our critical infrastructure.
Patch: Do you think you're the most in-shape mayoral candidate of the bunch?
Ross: I don’t work out as much as I did now that I’m running for mayor, but I still manage to get in some yoga or a run a couple times a week. There are a lot of great running groups around the city, and I’m hoping to run with all of them before this election is over.
Patch: Anything else you'd like to tell Patch readers?
Ross: I’m running for mayor to use innovative ideas to create jobs, improve our schools, and modernize government. If you believe in that too, check out my website at mikeforboston.com and get involved with the campaign.