Saturday, May 02, 2009

Taking it to the Streets

I spent a good deal of time in my neighborhood this past week, and I spoke to a number of my neighbors.

The 2009 local campaign season has started. The first step for a candidate (even one running for re-election) is getting on the ballot, and this is done by filing nomination papers. A nomination requires a certain number of signatures from voters, and the amount depends on the office sought. So starting on Tuesday, various candidates and their volunteers have been on the streets of Boston looking for signatures from eligible voters. If you see someone with a clipboard approaching you this weekend, chances are they are not trying to sell you something. They just want your "John Hancock." The signature period ends in about two and a half weeks.

On Tuesday, I was on the streets in Beacon Hill collecting signatures for Mayor Menino. Earlier today, I went door-to-door asking for signatures for my City Councilor, Mike Ross.

In between those two activities, on Thursday I went to a Beacon Hill Civic Association Founders Club event, where I listened to my State Senator, Sonia Chang-Diaz.

Collecting signatures is hard, but it gives one a chance to talk to people one-on-one (to the extent they don't think you are a sales person). I also spoke to a number of active neighbors at the Founders Club event.

I learned quite a bit about the general attitude of the neighborhood. Here goes:

-- Trash, trash, trash. I have commented here before that the neighborhood looks pretty good right now. Yet many people I talked to cited with disgust the trash problem on Beacon Hill. Last month at the Beacon Hill Civic Association it was reported, based on a recent new-members event, that trash remains the number one issue in the neighborhood.

-- What about us? I get the sense that everyone on Beacon Hill feels as though elected officials, in general, have forgotten about them. I must say that Beacon Hill can be overlooked; many campaigns I have been a part of lump Beacon Hill in with the Back Bay, which I dare say is a faux pas. Given the relatively small size of each neighborhood, such a grouping makes sense, and certainly demographically Beacon Hill and Back Bay are similar, but the geography of the two areas is different, and the two neighborhoods differ in their policy priorities.

-- Petty corruption is bad, bad, bad. I am not really sure what progressive means or whether I am one, but certainly Beacon Hill yearns for a clean political process. And for that reason, residents here tend to clump anyone in office with the petty corruption they read about in the papers. Isn't "Throw the bums out?" one of the primary themes of a progessive? I sense a lot of this emotion lingering from the overwhelming enthusiasm for Chang-Diaz last November (She was the candidate who ousted the tarnished former Senator Dianne Wilkerson). The now-Senator Chang-Diaz, who as I noted previously came to an event I attended on Thursday, cleaned house on Beacon Hill in the election results.

By the way, while I am very biased, I was very impressed by Senator Chang-Diaz. She spoke with authority backed up by a thorough understanding of the issues, even specific figures related to the budget. The crowd (which included some Republicans) received her warmly.

NOTE: I don't necessarily agree with what I observed in the neighborhood, as noted above, but it's what I heard and witnessed. Don't shoot the messenger!

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