Tomatoes, Stair-Climbing, and Community - On the campaign trail with Kristen Mobilia

Q: You talk a lot about neighborhoods. What do they represent for you?

A: Neighborhoods = Community. I have a long record of putting residents first and strengthening neighborhood groups. When candidates greet voters, they often ask about their top concerns. I also ask about their ideas and what they like to celebrate about their community. 

All neighborhoods should have a range of housing options and levels of affordability, community centers, elementary schools, day care centers, fresh food access, ample green space, and other resources that strengthen the community and include all residents. 

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Q: What is it like being a fourth-generation Bostonian? How does that influence your personality?

A:  My mother's family has called District 8 home for four generations. I have a built-in sense of pride in Boston and a sense of duty to work for the greater good. My great-grandfather was at the opening of the Parker Hill branch of the Boston Public Library in Mission Hill, and I was at the reopening last July. It was a special moment that more closely tied the past to the present. 

I come from a long line of city hikers and T-riders. My mother passed away last year, and some of my lasting memories are of her love of family rides on the Swan Boats and of singing and playing on her guitar the "Charlie on the MTA" song. My grandfather worked at a job at Old City Hall and the new one as well, and my grandmother was quite independent, working for Filene's and Brigham & Women's Hospital—and buying and driving a car.

The women in my family have had strong constitutions and a fire in their bellies. I must have inherited a bit of that, as it is the perfect recipe for running for office!

Q: You’ve got a lot of priorities for District 8. We’d love to learn about your approach: How might you go about solving for—or taking action on—one of these priorities?

A: As a Boston City Councilor, I would advocate to bring civics lessons back to the classroom and increased civic engagement within our neighborhoods. I would secure funding for micro-learning, mentoring, and technology to further support community building.

It’s clear that not all of Boston neighborhoods’ needs are being met by current planning and development policies. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) — currently referred to as the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) — is providing neither the necessary planning nor a transparent process to keep our neighborhoods diverse and livable. With each new commercial or housing development built, it’s the residents who absorb the considerable effects—from rising housing costs, congestion, and crime, to loss of valued structures and services. I would push for the re-establishment of a City Planning Agency in order to bring back a democratic process to our city’s growth. 

Also, equity in education is essential to our success as a city. My mother was a public school teacher, and I am a product of a public school system. While we have increased the Boston Public Schools (BPS) budget the past few years, we were coming off of years of inadequate budgets, so we are still playing catch up. We need to invest in all schools across the city and be more creative about additional public uses for underutilized school buildings (one idea would be to incorporate daycare or senior centers). I would fight to raise the bar of all public schools—every child deserves a solid educational foundation. 

Q: In your experience, how important is political party affiliation?

A: For me, political party affiliation is very important as it is how I align my ideals to my vote. As I have run for office, I often am asked whom I voted for President or what party I am in. I am a Democrat, have been my whole life. I do believe that we should always work for the greater good and that all politics are local. 

Currently, under 10% of Boston voters participate in our municipal elections. That means that every vote you make counts for the votes of 10 people—that’s very powerful and it is also not truly democratic. We need to get more residents to the polls on election day and also engaged regularly in our community. Can you imagine what we could get done if even 25% of residents were more involved?

Q: With all of your responsibilities, how do you make time to unwind? And what’s your favorite activity that gets you into a relaxed mood?

A: I am the youngest of five kids, so I have always been used to large social gatherings and lots of activity. I really enjoy sharing meals with family and friends - many of those happen in my garden within the Fenway Victory Gardens. 

Taking care of my garden, which I am still doing while working full-time and campaigning, helps me melt away stress. Weeding around plants and dead-heading flowers helps me clear my mind and take a break for small spans of time. 

While I am mostly "speed gardening" these days, I am still able to reap the benefits of vibrant flowers and fresh produce, which I always share with family and friends (let me know if you'd like some, as the tomatoes are plentiful right now!) I should also mention that while running for office, I have knocked on thousands of doors, so lots of walking and stair-climbing definitely keeps me healthy on the campaign trail.

To learn more about Kristen Mobilia, visit https://kristenmobilia.com/

Chaise ConfessionalsKim Conant