I have been a community organizer since junior year, back when I was a student at Brookline High School. During my Junior and Senior year, I volunteered at the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project and The City School. For three summers starting in 2012, I strengthened my leadership skills through the Summer Leadership Program at the City School, where I learned about privilege and the ways systemic oppression affects us on varying levels.
I was also a part of the Affordabili-T Coalition, the driving force that convinced the MBTA to implement the youth pass. The youth pass officially became a reality for all of the youth in Brookline and the city of Boston to enjoy. While in college, I worked with Boston Mobilization and led weekly workshops at the Brookline Teen Center, working with youth from the Center and Steps To Success to learn about systemic oppression, leadership, and workforce development.
Since then, I was a youth organizer at Youth Justice and Power Union, a HEARTT team member at BAGLY, and a board member at Zero Debt MA, where we fight to make higher education free in the state. I am currently working towards becoming a BAGLY board member and an alumni mentor in Steps To Success.
Aside from my social justice work, I began volunteering and canvassing for Nika Elugardo in 2018 for her first race for state representative of 15th Suffolk. After she won, I decided to pursue political work to understand and learn more. I then became a paid intern for Shannon Liss-Riordan in her first race for U.S. Senator. While she did not win, she offered me a role as a paralegal at her law firm. As a paralegal, we led class action lawsuits against massive corporations that were exploiting their workers, such as Uber and Dave and Busters. During the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, they allowed me to work remotely and to work part-time so I may finish school.
In 2021, I finally completed college and was able to look for my first full-time job. Luckily, I still had Nika Elugardo’s contact. With an email I almost didn’t send out of fear it would be ignored, she quickly responded, and from there, an opportunity to be her Legislative Aide opened. For all of 2022, I was Nika’s aide, learning about the job and the level of dedication needed to one’s district. I was lucky because I actually lived in 15th Suffolk (before redistricting). In that year, I focused on building trust in my community. I wanted to make sure that they knew they could always get a response from me.
For 2023, Sam Montaño, the newly elected State Representative of 15th Suffolk, saw the level of work I put in as Nika's aide, and offered me a role as their aide. I now work for the only nonbinary person of color in the state legislature. It has been a huge blessing, but I know, while my journey has been long, there’s still so much to learn and do.
My Perspective on the Issues:
I believe that housing is a human right, and with a growing population, we need more multi-family housing in Brookline. Current interest rates are so high that more and more families are abandoning their homeownership dreams and joining an already crowded rental market. We are facing a displacement crisis, with many families dealing with housing insecurity. Development should prioritize affordability in order to combat displacement and housing insecurity. With a mixed-income approach to development, we can insure that every family, regardless of socioeconomic status, has a home in Brookline. Homeownership is also a very important part of the equation. Homeownership is one of the best ways of building generational wealth, and if we want to combat the racial wealth gap — we need to advocate for homeownership.
Public community discussions are the best ways to organize and plan such developments. It would allow civic engagement and transparency between leadership, developers, and the community, while all voices are heard. This community engagement could allow business owners to share concerns so that whatever happens, their needs are always in consideration. Finally, I agree with the MBTA Communities Act proposition. For one, we need to obey the law. Secondly, this provides the opportunity needed for more developments, particularly affordable units.
Climate Change and Transportation
In my work as an aide, I have worked for leaders that have fought and advocated for more climate change initiatives, such as the HERO Act. As a community organizer, I advocated for more and better public transportation, which is a huge key in social justice and climate change. Proximity to public transportation is essential for working communities, youth, elders, and folks with disabilities. Additionally, I'm a huge advocate for biking. Having safer bicycling accommodations wouldn’t just be beneficial, but it is absolutely necessary. It is one of the key ways for us to cut down on fossil fuel emissions and promote health. I’m happy Blue Bikes racks are appearing around the town, with two in my precinct. It’s a great way to commit to climate change. Additionally, companies like Blue Bikes also create revenue for the town. By promoting biking, we also promote physical activity, health, and wellness. And finally, as a mode of transportation, biking is another form of accessibility across town, one that is less dependent on fossil fuels. This is just from a program like Blue Bikes. By having an intentional desire to create more bike paths and infrastructure that is focused on pedestrians and bikers, the town would be promoting health, town equity, and a better environment. Finally, climate change and the environment are tied to public safety and health. We cannot take care of ourselves if we do not take care of our public parks, the transition from gas to electric, and make sure that our homes and developments are built with modern-day HVAC systems.
Racial Equity and Justice
Brookline has a long and tumultuous relationship with race, racial justice, and racial equity. As a person of color with an immigrant background, I have been a victim of both micro and macro aggressions. This experience was not limited to one area, I experienced it in our schools, in our housing system, in our business models, and even in how we outreach. However, in the last decade, I have seen great efforts to amend this within town meetings. These changes have brought race and racial equity front and center in town meeting discussions.
While the Commonwealth has a long way to go, I believe Brookline can be a major pioneer in the work. However, we need to be dedicated to the change, not swerve when nerves and discomfort arise. Racial justice isn’t about feeling comfortable, it’s about doing what is right. This is especially true now that there’s a rise in racial violence across the country. It is for this very reason, I am against the limiting of marijuana licenses. In 2016, when question 4 was on the ballot and passed, it officially legalized recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years and older. A main point made by advocates and the town was the promise of racial equity and business opportunities for black and brown business owners. Since then, Brookline has yet not fulfilled its promise to do so. As someone who knows the history of the War on Drugs, the decades of incarceration of black and brown people, and how marijuana possession is still used to incarcerate and police black people in America, I, in good faith cannot approve of this cap. Until the town fulfills its promise and dedication to black equity in this industry, I will vote no.
Operational Override and the Pierce School
The operation override will ensure the town's most vital and important services, including the school system, are kept intact. If the override does not pass, there will be major budget cuts and services poorly funded across departments. Additionally, it could mean devastating staff and admin changes, which will result in increased class sizes. It will also mean our town's infrastructural needs won't have the proper funding, which could affect our roads and our current vermin problem.
Additionally, related to the override is The Pierce School and its renovations. It is insane how we have any public institution that is not fully accessible for folks with mobility challenges. I believe infrastructure should always be accessible, regardless of ability, so that all of our children can have a safe space to learn, grow, and become leaders of tomorrow. I also support the operating budget override. While higher property taxes are scary, I believe this small increase will allow the town to prioritize more services, committee studies, and work, and provide the town with necessary zoning reform.
While property taxes will go up, most of the homeowners I have spoken to in Precinct 5 usually agree that as long as our town's schools are taken care of, it will not be a problem for them. While I know they do not speak for all homeowners, there must be a level of understanding. Not only will our schools and teachers suffer if budget cuts are made, but many services and departments in the town will be grossly impacted. It is our collective responsibility to ensure we properly fund the town.
Interim Director of the Brookline Teen Center
BHS Educator and Community Organizer
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 2 and Candidate for Brookline Housing Authority
Board Member of Steps to Success and Brookline Racial Justice & Equity
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 5
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 2
Chi Chi Wu
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 7
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 10
Town Meeting Member of Precinct 8
Brookline Public School Educator and Candidate for TM Precinct 13
Former Town Meeting Member and Candidate for TM Precinct 7