Jack F. Kelly III (as his name will appear on the ballot), 32, spoke with West Roxbury Patch editor David Ertischek about his views on charter schools, West Roxbury, and why he's running citywide. Kelly grew up in Charlestown, and lives there now.
Patch: How does your professional career apply to being a city councilor?
Kelly: I believe I have a diversity of experience with two years as an iron worker, which was a great blue collar job. I woke up every day, got my boots on and went to work from 7 to 3. I was the neighborhood liaison for Charlestown for the mayor... once I took the job with the mayor, my role was to deliver constituent services on a daily basis, and I provided a greater perspective to the city so the mayor could push through specific items through the budget... I work at Mass General Hospital working in the private sector, I work on reducing rates of STIs, HIV, and Hepatitis C (in high risk communities). It required a lot of planning, working with schools, community leaders - to apply a very difficult health policy.
Patch: Why are you running at-large and not district?
Kelly: Because I feel the issues I’m fighting for are applicable citywide. As a neighborhood liaison you deal with the person on the personal level, but see the person in a broader discussion. I feel my biographical background helps with dealing with city issues across the city. Problems aren't in a vacuum, I look at the city as a microcosm. If one neighborhood in the city is weak then other parts will become weaker over time.
Patch: What do you think of the current school assignment plan?
Kelly: I think it’s a step in the right direction. The school assignment plan is a very convoluted issue... My philosophy is we want to have neighborhood schools (so we need to) get us to a point where parents feel they have a good option to send their kids to a neighborhood school.
Patch: What about lifting the charter cap?
Kelly: I don’t want to lift it right now. I’m not reflexively against charter schools in general. But I’m open to lifting it in the future. But I want to make sure we're addressing equity concerns like that if a kid doesn’t finish at a charter school and goes to a Boston Public School - does that money stay at the charter school, or go to BPS? Charter schools have done good things and can be options. I need to see more evidence for lifting (the cap).
Patch: What’s the biggest issue in Boston?
Kelly: Schools. I also think the issue is violence and substance abuse. Those issues go hand-in-hand in having a healthy, good school system. If our neighborhoods aren’t healthy... We need to address gun violence and substance abuse problems. There are too many people shooting each other and shooting heroin.
Patch: What has surprised you the most on the campaign trail?
Kelly: How similar most people in Boston are regardless of culture. We have lots of things in common, and agreement on more things than (people think). There’s a perception that different neighborhoods have different opinions. The truth is, I find, we have the same issues - schools, violence, the economy - people want the same thing. They want to be safe, to make sure their kids are safe, and if they have children that they can go to a good school, and not take two hours to get there. And (everyone wants a) good opportunity to have a good job. That’s a commonality across the spectrum. We need to focus on what brings us together, and not what divides us.
Patch: What colors are your signs? Why?
Kelly: My signs are blue and yellow. I picked them because I went to Malden Catholic before I transferred to Matignon High School, and I used to like their colors. I also ran the Boston Marathon this year... I wasn’t able to finish. I stopped at BC. It really had a profound effect on me. They're not completely the colors of the marathon. My blue is darker.
Patch: Are you running the Boston Marathon next year?
Kelly: Yes I am. I got invited back. I was supposed to announce my candidacy after I ran and crossed the finish line that day, but because of what happened I didn’t announce until a month later. I didn’t think about my campaign until a long time after the bombing happened.
Patch: Tell me about your experience and thoughts of West Roxbury. What issues do you see in West Roxbury for residents?
Kelly: I think the issues in West Roxbury are very heavily focused on the school system. People want to make sure the school system gives them the opportunity to send their kid to a good school. A lot of people move to West Roxbury... it has a suburban feel to it, and then you can’t send your kid to local school. Like many people I see how beautiful it is – that it’s nature focused. An issue some people were worried about recently is people coming in and cutting down trees. We have to make sure we preserve the nature of not only West Roxbury, but in Boston. We have to make sure we can preserve nature.
Patch: Anything else?
Kelly: I’m someone who’s going ot work hard. I'm a genuine person and I want this job. The Boston City Council needs fresh blood.