Young and diverse political candidates got readers of our July 19 issue pumped up.

August 9, 2009

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Race and Gender I was proud to read about Ayanna Pressley’s at-large campaign for Boston City Council (“Young, Black, and in the Running,” July 19). So often profiles of young people seeking elected office only paint a picture of ambitious men throwing their hats into the ring. In recent years, Greater Boston has enjoyed an uptick in the number of young women serving in municipal government: Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg, City Councilor Marjorie Decker of Cambridge, and Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz of Somerville, among others. While voters should support young female candidates like Pressley for their skills and positions on the issues, there is no denying the importance of the symbolism that comes with having young women on the ballot.

Jesse Mermell / Selectwoman, Town of Brookline

I’m 25 and found Kenneth J. Cooper’s article inspiring. As a young black woman, I particularly like that Ayanna Pressley has stepped up to the plate to challenge yet another barrier in the city for women and for people of color. She is wise enough to understand and respect the value of the approaches of her elders while carving out her own approach to service to everyone in the city regardless of color and gender. After reading the article, I’m thinking I may run for office one day.

Regina Kinney / Dorchester

I met Ayanna Pressley almost five years ago, when we were presenters at the City Wide Girls Summit. Ayanna shared her story of growing up without a father and the struggles and triumphs it brought. Her perseverance resonated with me, and I knew this was a powerful woman. Since then, she has been a frequent speaker at an organization I belong to, delivering empowering messages to women to “lift as they climb.” The Commonwealth needs a councilor who stands by her word in order to be an effective public servant. It takes someone who is brave, transparent, experienced, passionate, full of integrity, and authentic. I know that person is Ayanna. Her gender, race, and age are icing on the cake.

Alicia Canady / Dorchester

As a white gay male living in the melting pot that is the South End, and as a Generation Xer myself, it was great to read about the new generation of African-Americans running for office and their philosophy of working across turfs that have traditionally been areas of division. I’d like to point out that there is also a new generation of well-qualified Hispanics campaigning for at-large council seats -- Tomas Gonzalez and Felix Arroyo Jr. -- and Hiep Nguyen is a young Vietnamese contender. This is good for Boston; the city’s future lies in the strength of its diversity.

Jeff Ross / Boston

Un-Blended Families Stefan Hogan is tender and full of compassion for a father and family that hardly deserve it (“The Son Who Wasn’t,” July 19). Charles Dickens couldn’t have written a more dismal character than the father. An adulterer, reprehensible in his weakness, who abandons a child and many years later has an incredibly limited epiphany whereby he confesses to his legitimate children they have another sibling. What makes this such a truly sad story is the second round of rejection that some of these siblings meted out. I think Hogan was lucky to have lived apart from this particular family. He shows such a generosity of feeling toward them that he could never be truly one of them.

Linda Thrasher / Wellesley

The grace and dignity with which Stefan Hogan handled his father, his father’s other families, and his father’s blatant hiding of him is astonishing and inspiring. In this day and age of so many feeling like “victims” due to imperfect family dynamics, Hogan is an example of accepting life as is and making the most of his talent and reality. I applaud him, along with his mother and extended family in Brooklyn, for living with an open heart and mind and sharing this painful story.

Candy Massard / Bourne

I am the wife of a “real” son who was told as an adult that he had a half brother, Randy, living in Georgia. Randy’s biological mother gave him up for adoption but never told my father-in-law about the child (their relationship existed prior to his marriage to my mother-in-law). While it was at first a little awkward when Randy contacted our family a decade ago, he and his daughter have grown to be a wonderful part of our lives. I would urge the Massachusetts family to get to know Stefan Hogan and give the relationship a chance.

Cate Adams / Hingham

The Real Scoops This is Boston, the ice cream mecca, and you picked 10 places (“The Best Ice Cream,” July 19)? How could you do such a disservice to dozens of other excellent choices? For instance: Down River in Essex is fabulous, using organic and home-grown ingredients; their gelato is the best I’ve had since Italy. The Chilly Cow in Arlington is unique for its wonderful real frozen custard (in many flavors). Rancatore’s in Belmont and Lexington makes delicious ice cream and some of the best frozen yogurt around. Then there’s White Farms in Ipswich, an old-fashioned ice cream stand where the kiddie size is as big as a large in most other places. And I’ve just started to scratch the surface.

Ruth Weinrib / Arlington

We are ice cream devotees in our family, and we were disappointed and almost offended that our favorite ice cream place, Erikson’s Ice Cream on Route 117 in Maynard, was not mentioned. Erikson’s is a beloved local haunt, and if you’ve never heard of it, then you should remedy that right away.

Kalyani Krishnan / Acton

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