4.4 min readBy Published On: August 14th, 2013Categories: News0 Comments on A message from

Jack Kelly

A few weeks back, I attended the public safety meeting in South Boston led by Representative Nick Collins, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Councilor Bill Linehan, Congressman Steve Lynch and the Mayor’s office. The meeting came to fruition as a result of the tragic death of Amy Lord, who was abducted and murdered.

While every murder and innocent loss of life is tragic, Amy’s death was ever the more appalling because of the heinous nature of the crime.  The mere fact her daily routine could end in such a horrid way, shook our collective sense of peace and safety.

The fundamental purpose of government, be it federal, state or municipal, is to provide an infrastructure that can protect us from the sometimes’ evil acts of certain people. When such an infrastructure, specifically on the municipal level is questioned or that infrastructure becomes weak, people will disperse to other places that are strong.

Essentially, or in our case, they will move out of a neighborhood such as Southie or a city, such as Boston that can’t protect them.

How we protect one another is a complicated and convoluted task.  Solutions sometimes seem so far, yet the willingness is abundant within our universal fabric of everyday neighbors.

In the case of Amy, it seems the reported perpetrator was a dangerous individual who some could question and I certainly do, his ability to freely walk amongst us. 

But something struck me as I listened to the questions posed during the meeting.  Despite Commissioner Ed Davis and District Attorney Dan Conley declaring that Amy’s death was unrelated to drug activity, many of the questions from concerned neighbors focused on the decade long drug problem facing Southie.

For a variety of reasons, too long to list in this piece, the drug problem in Southie and throughout the rest of Boston has caused heartache and neighborhood instability for far too long. Whether it be the grandparent raising their grandchildren because their daughter is an addict, a local business owner whose shop has been broken into, or a concerned parent who is afraid to have their children play in the street because of the local dealer or discarded hypodermic needles, addiction affects us all.

It is a plague that needs the full attention of the Mayoral and City Council races. I plan to give it the full attention it deserves.

When I decided to run for Boston City Council At Large, I did it with the full intention of telling everyone in Boston my personal problem with addiction.  Against advice from some more seasoned political observers, I wanted to be transparent with my addiction to Oxycontin and Heroin as a way to interject an honest and direct conversation about this scourge our city has dealt with for some time.

This is an issue that migrates into every other important topic we care about.  Public safety and education policy- reforms we all seek, in my opinion, are directly tied into the substance abuse problem.

How can we reform our schools without discussing the negative social consequences of drugs and the domino affects of violence for which they contribute to?

And how can I and other members of the new City Council and the new Mayor, pass school reforms that nudge us even closer towards neighborhood schools, if we cannot guarantee a safe and high performing neighborhood school to all residents of Boston because of the aforementioned problems?

We need to increase the presence of community health workers in schools and directly have them link with community groups who are tasked with dealing with drugs and other healthy neighborhood initiatives.

In addition, we must look at reforming our zoning code, with the help of our friends from the state such as Representative Collins and Senator Dorcena Forry to allow a specific distinction between a rooming house and a sober house.  We must model this reform off of productive, community houses such as the Gavin House and never allow unsupervised rooming houses to exploit those early in recovery looking for legitimate help, which then pose an unnecessary danger to the entire community.

We must also look at reforming our philosophy around methadone and its distribution.  As someone who believes in some harm reduction formulas, I remain unconvinced methadone has any positive effect on a person’s recovery from drugs.  It simply prolongs the condition while creating very unhealthy physical conditions for the individual.

None of this means a simple solution is present, but it is the focus, in a high profile manner in this race, which is essential.  And to be clear, many people have worked diligently to address this problem both in the community and among our elected leaders and their staff.

It is a vicious cycle that is challenging to solve, but a challenge worth fighting for. I fought this battle in my personal life and won.  There’s not only hope for individuals like me but also for the community. When this problem is solved it will benefit us all.

Together, we can make tomorrow a brighter day!

Jack Kelly is a candidate for Boston City Council At Large
For more information about his candidacy, please visit his website at: