A Tufts’ political forum, a Town Hall with Mayor Curtatone, and Halloween festivities
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Tufts University’s mayoral candidate forum
The Tisch Council for Philanthropic Leadership, a Tufts University student organization, held a TCPL Somerville Mayoral Forum on Oct. 21. The event was moderated by David Gibbs, executive director of the Community Action Agency of Somerville, and the two speakers were mayoral candidates Katjana Ballantyne and Will Mbah. Over the course of the forum, they responded to questions about the climate crisis, affordable housing, Somerville’s relationship with Tufts, and more.
One topic that Gibbs raised was how an elected mayor would address the impact of COVID on working women, especially single mothers and women of color. Ballantyne said that she has started a program called Invest in Girls, because there is unequal funding at the City level. She has submitted a guaranteed income program for single led households, acknowledging that most single led households are led by women. Mbah said that he would fully fund and empower the Somerville Commission for Women, identifying resources to support women. Schools should be able to safely stay open, he said. Women should also be able to go back to work and get paid the same amount as their male counterparts, he added.
The candidates were also asked to explain how they would combat systemic racism. Ballantyne described her experience working on social and racial equity, outlining her background with community-based organizations in Nubian Square, Chinatown, and Dorchester. Mbah said that he had led the effort to create the Civilian Oversight Board, with the goal of holding police accountable. The issue to him, as a father of two children of color, is very personal, he said.
“Children should be able to see themselves in the police officers, in the schools. If they see somebody who doesn’t look like them, it’s already a problem,” said Mbah. He added, “We are living in an institution that is built on racial hierarchy and subjugation. We have a long way to go, but it’s a good first step.”
The two also described how they see the role of Tufts fitting in with the greater Somerville community. Mbah stated that the school brings diverse perspectives to the city. Ballantyne said that while she believes the university is an asset to the community, she believes it needs to make efforts to address how off campus student housing impacts the neighborhood.
“The university, what it’s able to create, [is] the vibrancy here, in Somerville, because students add that vibrancy,” said Ballantyne. She added, “I started working with the Housing League maybe four years ago, because they’re having housing problems. … At the same time, I would say that some of the policies that the university has pushed by not housing all students on campus has pitted students against our community and our families and have caused much of the displacement that we’ve certainly felt in Ward 7.”
Town Hall with Mayor Joe Curtatone
The City of Somerville will be hosting a Town Hall with Mayor Joe Curtatone, who has served the community for 18 years. The event will be moderated by Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Byron Barnett, and attendees will be able to ask their own questions. It will be held in person on Oct. 28 from 6-8 p.m. at the East Somerville Community School, at 50 Cross Street. Attendees must be socially distanced and wear masks, and there will be ventilation systems running.
“Community conversations over the years have kept me inspired and informed and I want to get out one more time to check in with the people of Somerville, thank them for all they do, and talk about where we are heading next. I may be stepping away from City Hall, but Somerville is my home, and we have so much more important work ahead of us. So I think of this not as the last conversation but rather one of many more to come in different forms,” said Curtatone, in a press release.
The town hall portion of the event will be live-streamed at somervillema.gov/virtualtownhall and available for later viewing at youtube.com/SomervilleCityTV. Live simultaneous Spanish interpretation and English captioning will be available. Portuguese, Haitian Kreyol, and Nepali interpretation can be requested in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Somerville Main Streets Halloween Block Party
On Oct. 30, East Somerville Main Streets will be presenting a Halloween Block Party and Pet Parade at Chuckie Harris Park. It will be occurring from 3-6 p.m. Participants are invited to dress up their pets and parade down Cross Street, before walking the red carpet, in front of a panel of judges. There will also be Halloween themed activities and games, such as face painting, pumpkin decorating, music, and more.
Pet Parade Schedule:
3:00 – Registration
3:30 – Parade and Judging
4:00 – Zen Dog Training Event
4:30 – Winners Announced
Come celebrate the Monster Mashed-UP!
The last SomerStreets of 2021 will be taking place at the Oct. 31 Monster Mashed-UP, outside of Union Square, on Somerville Avenue, between Hawkins Street to Park Street. It will last from 2-6 p.m. There will be two stages of music, one in partnership with School of Rock, and another curated by the PorchFest Staff. Come be a part of the Halloween costume parade led by School of Honk, and join the Rollerblading Disco Party, with DJ Brother Cleve.
Some Activities to expect:
- Face Painting by Flor Delgadillo
- Dia de los Muertos Celebration Activities with Andrea and Angelica Menchaca and food with Nibble Kitchen’s Estela Calzada
- Boston Hoop Troop and Fairy Roamers
- Handstands, juggling, acrobatics and comedy for all ages with Cate the Great
- Magician, Just Felice
- Somerville Recreation
- Ghost of Somerville Tour with the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.