With District 8 City Councilor Mike Ross forgoing a reelection bid to enter the mayoral race, longtime Mission Hill resident Richard Giordano has entered the race to succeed him.
He recently spoke with the Gazette on a range of issues, including the housing situation on Mission Hill and criticizing last year’s process around the school-move plan.
When asked why he decided to enter the race, Giordano said he could be facetious and say, “It is because I’m crazy.” But, he then said, it is the logical conclusion to 20 plus years in the public sector, including being an aide to two city councilors (Maura Hennigan and Sam Yoon), a state representative (Kevin Fitzgerald) and a state senator (Dianne Wilkerson).
Fitzgerald represented Mission Hill. Giordano had a failed bid to replace Fitzgerald in 2002 when he left the State House.
“Government is vitally important,” said Giordano, who is married to Maggie Cohn, the executive director of the Mission Hill Health Movement. “I’m not on the Tea Party side. I’m on the other side.”
Since leaving the public sector several years ago, Giordano said he has continued to be involved with Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation and Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services. He has also been managing three farmer’s markets in Mission Hill, Dedham and Hyde Park, though the latter took this year off.
Giordano said he learned during his time as an aide to city councilors that micro issues, such as fuel assistance, schools and crime prevention, are a “big, big piece of the job.” He said he has the “on-the-ground experience” with those issues.
But, Giordano said, the focus can’t be entirely on those issues, as the City Council also deals with larger issues, such as reviewing and approving the City’s budget, and should be involved with discussions over mass transit.
“If Boston is going to function, the MBTA has to be running well,” said Giordano.
For Mission Hill, Giordano said, one of the most pressing issues is the “shift created by housing or the lack of housing.” He said because of the increased student population, Mission Hill real estate prices have quadrupled or quintupled in the last 15 to 20 years.
He said real estate agents have been enticing residents to sell their properties, so investors can turn them into de facto dorms. Giordano said that the area has lost many long-term residents, including families.
“I hate to say it, but a student ghetto is close to what has gone on,” he said.
Giordano said local universities, including Northeastern University (NU), need to step up to the plate and build more dorms. He said local elected officials, such as Ross and state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, have spoken to student housing issue.
He said the NU administration “had other things in mind” besides building more dorms, but that it has “kind of come around.” But, he cautioned, even with a proposed dorm behind the YMCA, “it is not sufficient.”
Giordano said another issue for not just Mission Hill, but the entire district, is schools. He said that people on Beacon Hill want a school there and that Mission Hill is wanting for one also after two schools left here after last year’s school-move plan.
Giordano criticized Boston Public School (BPS) for the process around the school-move plan, saying, “I think we saw a lack of input and real planning.” He said parents and teachers were never consulted. Giordano also said that BPS is almost a military organization at the management level, where principals can’t complain to higher-ups without being punished.