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At RoxVote forum, residents disscuss issues important to them

Posted by Patrick Rosso  July 17, 2013 03:24 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

With plates piled high with BBQ and rice, residents talked amongst themselves at the RoxVote Coalition’s “Cook-Out with the Candidates” held Tuesday evening in Hibernian Hall.

But before the mayoral candidates could get up and give there spiel, residents were discussing what was on their minds and what they wanted to hear from the 12 candidates running to replace Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“It’s important that we have good education and safety in the neighborhood,” said Carl Vicker, a retired Dorchester resident.

Growing up in Roxbury, Vicker, who described himself as a “mature citizen,” said schools in addition to lengthening the day, need to be looking into ways to give kids a wide range of skills.

“When I was going to school we had classes like woodworking and sheet metal; we need more trades in the schools to give the kids options and skills,” he said.

Others like Patricia Courtney, a 60-year-old former teacher from Roxbury, said the candidates should look at Menino as an example.

“I think whoever is the new mayor, they are going to have to continue many of the things Menino started,” she said.

Listing a variety of issues she believed Menino was strong on, from working with the elderly to neighborhood development, Courtney said most of all there needs to be a concentration on the youth.

“It’s really about our kids,” she said. “They need jobs and if you want to keep them off the street, you can’t have them not have jobs.”

Some wanted a candidate that could bring together both the old Boston and the new residents moving into the city.

“One of my biggest issues is integrating Boston,” said Sydney Janey, a 32 year-old graphic designer from Roxbury. “Connecting families that have been here for generations to those who have just moved here is important. They buy multi-million condos Downtown but don’t come into the neighborhoods.”

Janey also highlighted the importance of development in Roxbury, but said attention has to be paid to the businesses coming into the district.

“I like the Dudley Square Municipal Building project, but we need to make sure we are supporting real minority owned businesses, not just hair salons and dollar stores,” she added.

Education and the youth also seemed to be on the minds of many as they chatted with their neighbors.

“I have a little sister who just graduated from Charlestown High School,” explained Woody Vainqueur, a 22-year-old student and Mattapan resident. “We live in Mattapan and I want to hear how they plan to improve the schools in our neighborhood, so we don’t have to go all the way across town.”

Jumaada Smith, owner of A Nubia Notion Inc., a longtime Dudley Street business, said the city needs to do more to involve the inner-city youth.

“I want jobs for our youth, but I also want them to be getting the good internships,” explained Smith. “I want them to have the internships with the big companies that will help them get into college and provide opportunity.”

Although some had already chosen their candidate, many were still undecided Tuesday, saying they wanted substance not just talking points.

“I want to see an action plan,” said Natalia Urtubey, a 28 year-old Dorchester resident and non-profit coordinator. “Yes it’s politics, but it’s important that we find out what a candidate’s plan is and how they plan to follow through with it.”

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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