By Lauren Bennett
City Councilor Josh Zakim has announced he is not seeking re-election after serving three terms on the council, which means that District 8 will see a new face next year. Zakim said he is hoping to spend more time with his family, but “whatever my next role is, I look forward to continuing to serve the public good in Boston, Massachusetts, and beyond,” he said in a Facebook post on March 21.
“To the residents of District 8: thank you for your trust, support, and friendship since 2013. To Mayor Walsh and my City Council colleagues, past and present: thank you for being vital allies and partners at every turn,” the post stated. “I am immensely proud of all that we have accomplished in three terms on the Council. As chair of the Civil Rights Committee and a past chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development, we have positively impacted the lives of residents across the city.”
Four candidates have their campaigns off the ground for District 8: Kristen Mobilia, Helene Vincent, Landon Lemoine, and now Kenzie Bok, who announced her candidacy on March 29. Vincent said that she is “grateful” for Zakim’s service in the last years “and we wish him luck in his future endeavors and spending time with his family as well.”
Vincent said she’s been knocking on between 50 and 100 doors per day, as her focus is to run a grassroots campaign, “talk to as many people as we can,” and build relationships with the community. She said she has found that a lot of people feel like they are not listened to, and a lot of people have not met their representatives. “We need to make sure that everybody in our neighborhoods understand the changes that are happening,” Vincent said. “There’s a special moment when you knock on a door and the person realizes you’re there with no agenda.”
Landon Lemoine said he is “very excited” to get his campaign off the ground. He said he’s also been doing some door knocking of his own, as well as going to local events and people’s homes to listen to how they think things can be done better. “They want change and they want people to think beyond just the next month,” he said—they’re thinking about the future of the neighborhood.
“What we see from everything is that this district is growing faster than what the city can keep up with,” Lemoine said. “It’s going to take somebody with an innovative approach.”
Lemoine is focused on “streamlining a lot of processes in the city,” so people can “get things done for themselves” more easily. “You’ve got to think about these situations differently and think outside the box,” he said.
He said that people want to hear real ideas that are going to change what they see everyday. “People are willing to make a jump and hear a new voice,” he said. “No one is looking for a seat filler.”
Kristen Mobilia said she was “surprised” when she heard the news that Councilor Zakim was not running again, but she said the news does not change anything about her campaign. Her goal is to improve civic engagement across District 8, and “make sure there are very regular conversations throughout the neighborhood,” patterning with people and organizations to create solutions.
She said she’s been doing “anything and everything” to engage residents, from door knocking to stopping to speak with them. She is having a campaign kickoff event on April 10, and is working on an aging in the community initiative, as well as voter registration at Boston Public Schools. She said she is also working towards a long term solution for the opioid crisis, as well as improving accessibility to spaces around the city and making sure that there is enough of the right type of housing for Boston’s growing population.
She also believes that childcare amenities are “really important,” as well as healthy supermarkets and “transportation that makes sense” for new buildings. She also wants to stress the importance of voting in primaries, and wants people to know that she is available by phone or to meet for coffee to discuss any comments or concerns from the community.
One of lifelong Boston resident Kenzie Bok’s priorities is affordable housing. She is the Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning at the Boston Housing Authority, according to a press release, and has “been an active organizer for progressive causes and candidates since her teens.” She was also a leader in the Community Preservation Act enactment and assisted in drafting the final ordinance, is the chair of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee, and is a lecturer on housing Justice at her alma mater, Harvard University.
“Boston is an incredible city with a proud history,” Bok said. “Growing up here I learned from my parents, grandparents, and neighbors that every generation has to play a role in preserving all that we’ve inherited, while also doing new work to ensure that these places we love remain accessible to all. For years, I have worked side by side with committed activists throughout the district on issues like public space, historic preservation, affordable housing, and responsible development. With the help of all the people who sustain the communities of this district every day, I know we can amplify an inclusive vision for its future.” Zakim still has nine and a half months left in his term, and he is excited to continue his work. “It’s an incredible district with very engaged residents,” Zakim told the Gazette. “It’s a very unique and rewarding opportunity and I certainly wish [all the candidates] well and encourage them to call people in every neighborhood.”