In an effort to keep you informed, Caught in Southie will be bringing you candidate profiles for the upcoming preliminary election on Tuesday, September 26th. This is the third one in the series.
If you left your house at any point over the summer and went to any of the celebrations in the neighborhood, you probably met Mike Kelley, a passionate, engaging public servant who wants to be our next City Councilor.
Mike a twin, who grew up in Revere, began to work at age 18 for Northwest Airlines loading luggage as a member of International Association of Machinists (IAM) for almost 10 years. There Mike learned first-hand the value of organized labor and really started to see how important it was to be politically active.
While still working at NWA, Mike applied and was accepted to the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) first Youth College for Campaign Training. He then worked on Democratic campaigns, including President Bill Clinton’s Whistle Stop Tour in Royal Oak Michigan, before returning to work at NWA. That opportunity changed Mike’s life forever, igniting a passion for politics and action.
For almost 10 years, Mike Kelley worked directly for Boston Mayor Tom Menino. He started out as the Mayor’s South End and Bay Village Neighborhood Coordinator and as the Mayor’s Liaison to the LGBT Community.
Mike Kelley has been endorsed by our State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Planned Parenthood, Boston Ward 3, 4, and 5 Democratic Committees, Local 888 SEUI, and the Sierra Club among others.
Why are you running?
Growing up in public housing, I was very fortunate to have a family and community that helped me along the way. I am running for City Councilor because I want to make sure that everyone in this district has the same access to opportunity and a pathway to success that I did growing up.
I will work hard every day to make sure every school is a good school, and that every child has access to a quality education. I will continue to fight to keep our neighborhoods affordable, diverse, and safe just as I did when I was the Director of the City’s Rental Housing Resource Center. I will be an unrelenting advocate for public transportation improvements that help make our transit system more rapid and reliable. And finally, I will work hard to address issues that help improve the quality of life for all by always putting people first.
We’ve got an embarrassment of riches with a field of really excellent candidates vying for this post – what sets you apart?
My experience. For me, constituent service is at the heart of being a City Councilor. And for nearly a decade, I successfully delivered resources and services to the people of Boston from inside of Boston City Hall. First, I worked as the Neighborhood Liaison to the South End and Bay Village, and later as the Directory of the City’s Rental Housing Resource Center. No one else in this campaign has the record of successfully delivering resources and services to the community that I do. As City Councilor, I will put that experience to work for the people of District 2 on my first day on the job.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
As the City’s former Liaison to the LGBTQ Community during the late 90s and early 2000s. I was a tireless advocate for LGBTQ issues. I was on the front lines, working on issues like benefits for City employees in domestic partnerships and marriage equality. It was my honor
to play a role in those fights, and their successes remain among some of the proudest achievements of my career.
Southie’s bus situation is OUT OF CONTROL. How will you work with the MBTA to mitigate the overcrowding?
I will work with partners like Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, who has endorsed my campaign, to make sure the allocation she fought for in the State budget continues and is increased, so that we can add more busses and drivers to our most taxed bus lines. I will also advocate for improving the transportation infrastructure for all modes of transportation: walking, bikes, ferries, buses and trains. This would allow public transportation system to keep up with continued rapid growth throughout South Boston, and relieve traffic congestion. The residents of South Boston have dealt with inadequate public transportation infrastructure for too long, and that is wrong. As City Councilor I will work hard every day to improve it.
Thoughts on the Boston Edison Development?
I’ve looked at the proposal, and as it currently stands, I believe the project is too large to move forward without first laying out a transportation infrastructure plan to address concerns. With over 1,600 housing units, this project would add far too much density to an area of South Boston that is already starving for more public transportation and parking.
Moving forward with this proposal without a transportation plan would only make both these problems exponentially worse. I will also work tirelessly to ensure that the residents’ concerns are heard.
Do you think households should be able to get unlimited resident parking stickers? How do we fix our parking crisis?
No, I do not. South Boston currently faces a parking crisis, and I believe that in order to help remedy this problem we need to place a limit on the number of parking permits per household, or charge a fee for additional parking permits beyond a certain number per household. We need to make sure that new development projects in the community include ample off-street parking for their residents as well. Investing in our public transportation system helping to make it more rapid and reliable, also will alleviate the parking problem by taking drivers and cars off the road.
I started working at 14 at a local hot dog stand. I wanted a job so badly that I offered to work there for free at first, and after just a couple of days the owner put me on the payroll.
Favorite restaurant in Southie?
I love going with family and friends to Sully’s at Castle Island for a hot dog.