District 7 City Council Candidates Debate at Hibernian Hall
BOSTON/Roxbury - Incumbent District 7 City Councilor Chuck Turner faced off with challenger Carlos "Tony" Henriquez - the president of the board of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative - at a debate in front of an audience of over 80 community members at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square on Wednesday. The event was organized by a RoxVote, a "coalition of community organizations that care about civic participation in Roxbury" which includes Madison Park Development Corporation, DSNI, Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation, the Orchard Gardens and Orchard Commons Residents Association, and a number of other groups.
The District 7 City Council race is being closely watched as a test of whether residents of the district - which includes Roxbury, Lower Roxbury, and parts of the Fenway, South End, and Dorchester - are willing to stick with Turner through his ongoing fight against federal corruption charges, or will take their chances with Henriquez, who is running his second campaign for the office.
Sarah Ann Shaw, best known as Boston's first African American television reporter, moderated the debate.
Both candidates were allowed 2 minute opening statements, then answered a series of questions from the sponsoring organizations and audience members, followed by 1 minute closing statements.
Henriquez spoke first, focusing on his deep roots in the neighborhood, "So my name is Carlos Henriquez. I'm a 32-year old lifelong resident of District 7. I'm a volunteer youth coordinator here in Roxbury. And I'm also a teen program coordinator in the South End. I'm running for City Council for the second time because too much is at stake for District 7 to continue to let things go on the same way they have been. I'm running because my parents taught me the value of serving my community. I'm running because after 18 years of experience as a community organizer and an activist, and spending 3 years at City Hall working as a service director, I realize the amount of work that needs to be done from day-to-day to make the changes we need to see in our neighborhood.
"I'm running for City Council so that the third grader at Orchard Gardens or at the John Winthrop School can get the same education as a third grader that goes to school in Newton or Wellesley. So that a 15 year old can have a safe place to learn and to socialize in the evenings where they can find mentors that look like them and teach them job skills and give them opportunities; so that they can have a sense of pride and self-worth. I'm running for City Council so that parents in the community can find stable and affordable housing; so that they can focus on finding better employment and better education not only for themselves but also for their young ones. I'm running because the third grader, the 15 year old and their parents should not have to travel to and from work through streets and playing parks that are covered in grafitti, trash, glass, condoms or needles as they go to and from work. I'm running to bring these changes to District 7. I'm running because you deserve better. Because we deserve better. I'm looking to be that change. So I ask you for your support and I ask you for your vote if you're ready to see these changes happen in your community. You're ready to see these changes happen in District 7. Again my name is Carlos Henriquez and this is why I'm running for City Council."
Turner then took the floor, stressing his record of achievement, "Let me just begin by thanking RoxVote for putting on this debate so the people of our community can have an opportunity to hear both of us. Since 1966 when I moved to Roxbury, I've devoted my life to serving the people of this community. Not just District 7, but Roxbury. And, in fact, I think if you look at the record of the accomplishments of other city councilors during the last 10 years, I think that I can say in all humility that I've been the most active and effective city councilor - serving not just the people of District 7, but the people of the city as a whole. You know, I've been the only councilor to provide a full-time office for my constituents. So they wouldn't have to go downtown to get services. I've sponsored 6 pieces of legislation that have become laws - including one on the CORI that has been a national model for municipal legislation related to the CORI issue. During the last 5 years I've led 3 fights against the attempts of other City Council members and the mayor to bring back neighborhood schools. 3 years ago I worked with Jamarhl Crawford and the New Black Panther Party and the ACLU to successfully turn back a police invasion program. I fought for 8 years around the issue of the Biolab, against the Biolab. I think I have continued to provide the same leadership during these past 10 years that I provided in the 33 years before that and I think that's why I deserve your vote for City Council. Thank you."
The debate continued for over an hour - covering a broad array of topics. The candidates will have one more go-around before the November 3rd election on October 28th at 7 p.m. at the Vine Street Community Center.
Audio from the event follows below.
The 1 hour 10 minute audio recording of the debate can be played directly on this page or downloaded from the Internet Archive audio service in the free software Ogg Vorbis format. Download the free software VLC Player to play Ogg Vorbis files on your own computer. (Note: the last few minutes of the debate were not recorded.)