I am running for a seat on the Boston City Council because I truly believe in the power of government and public policy not just to sustain people, but to uplift them.
Newcomer David Halbert of Mattapan hasn’t run for office before, but he’s no stranger to politics, having worked for two Boston city councilors and former governor Deval Patrick. He’s staked out perhaps the most nuanced and thoughtful platform of any of the first-time candidates. He wants to establish a co-op program for high school students to develop job skills at city agencies, and to reconstitute the council’s post audit and oversight committee to step up scrutiny of city services.
Like many council candidates this year, Halbert says housing affordability is the city’s biggest challenge, and that he supports denser development. He also says that asking Boston to solve the housing crisis on its own is unfair, and that he wants to be part of the regional conversation to break down barriers to housing throughout Greater Boston.
I have spent a lifetime putting my values into action serving others, working to improve my community, and heeding the call of civic duty. I have consistently sought out opportunities to help others, whether successfully changing state policy to increase student representation on the Board of Higher Education as a college student; serving constituents as a staff member for elected officials like Boston City Councilors John Tobin, Sam Yoon, and Governor Deval Patrick; or working to help community organizations like East Boston Main Streets and the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts meet and exceed their goals.
Now, I’m hoping to put my experiences, education, and work ethic to use in service of my fellow Bostonians as an at-large member of the Boston City Council.
I am running for a seat on the Boston City Council because I truly believe in the power of government and public policy not just to sustain people, but to uplift them. I believe this because I have lived this story. As the son of a newly single mother with three kids and questions about how she would make ends meet I remember how support from government programs helped keep food on the table and gave our family the breathing room we needed to find our way.
Government provided a new career for my mom, one that brought us to Massachusetts. It gave my sisters and I educational opportunities from elementary school through college; and provided 2 of the 3 of us with careers in public service - just like our parents. It was a government program that provided a pathway to home ownership for my wife and me - a home that became the key asset allowing us to grow as a family and find a way to stay in Boston.
At point after point my life has been shaped by government. But I know that government does not happen in a vacuum; it is the manifestation of the intention of those crafting it. If it wasn’t for someone taking the time to work with our family when I was a child, there was no food assistance for us. If it wasn’t for the intention and effort of people managing programs as we were growing up there would not have been good schools and safe streets in our neighborhood. If not for people long ago believing that government had a role in providing higher education opportunities for everyday people, I would not have a college degree and a fulfilling career in public service.
I have a lifetime of experiences impacted by government, by those in government service whom I will never know but whose work has had a deep and profound impact on my life. Whether working to support our schools so that they can be and do their best; focusing on ways to ensure that all streets are safe, regardless of neighborhood; creating pathways to economic prosperity for all Bostonians; or breaking down barriers to bring government closer to citizens; I will work everyday as a member of the Boston City Council to show my gratitude through service defined by character, creativity, and courage. At every point in my adult life I have chosen Boston. Now, with your help, I ask Boston to choose me.
September 12, 2019
Over the course of this campaign there has been a significant amount of discussion about how to reform the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) process between the city and its major non-profits, with a particular focus on Boston’s colleges and universities. These calls for reform stem from the fact that Bostonians have felt PILOT has not lived up to its promise of creating better, more engaged &responsible civic partners out of these institutions. We can make PILOT work better, but only if we take a new and more creative approach in how we think about and execute it.
At its core PILOT asks for two things. The first is direct cash compensation to the city. This is based on valuations equivalent to about 12.5% of what they would have paid in real estate taxes in fiscal year 2009. This is an area where we consistently see underpayment of the already significantly discounted rate. Everyday taxpayer’s rates are calculated on values today, what we ask of these institutions should be as well. We should be asking for more and receiving it.
The second is “community benefits” that institutions provide. Organizations have been given wide latitude in how to define and value these, with some being of broader utility to the city than others. This is where we have the greatest ability to make change. Which is why I have proposed a plan for targeted local procurement as a new component of the community benefits portion of PILOT.
This proposal provides an incentive to institutions with PILOT agreements to purchase their goods and services directly from small businesses in Boston. Specifically the incentive would credit every dollar spent at a recognized small business, plus an added percentage bonus, towards the requested PILOT community benefits contribution. If these organizations patronize businesses owned and operated by historically under-invested groups (women, people of color, veterans, persons with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, etc.) that percentage would be increased accordingly.
This plan works because it changes the tone of the PILOT conversation from its current orientation, where the city and institutions face off as combatants, to one where they are working together to direct resources into neighborhoods and uplift local small businesses – which are vital for community health and development. It also works because the scale of the needs of these institutions is typically larger than any one small business has capacity for, which helps ensure that more of them have opportunity. This is the kind of approach to creative policy making and collaborative problem solving I want to bring to the City Council.
I look forward to hearing your feedback on this important issue. Reach out to us on social media using“@VoteHalbert” and at firstname.lastname@example.org.