City Council Candidate Chat: Angelica Addivinola
David S. Bernstein: Why are you running, in what I believe is your first time running for office?
Angelica Addivinola: Yes, this is my first time running for office. I decided to enter this race because I am confident I can do a good job on the City Council advocating for the people of my district. This is an unusual and unique municipal election here in Boston. We’ll have a new mayor, and a bunch of city councilors are vacating their seats as well. So there’s a good opportunity for many new people to get in, and hopefully bring positive change to local government. I think I have the skills and experience to be able to listen to my constituents, to their concerns, and bring their issues forward.
What do you feel are the key things that a councilor, and a district councilor in particular, need to do?
I think that the job of city councilor is not to bring their particular agenda or plan, and push it through, but rather listening to your constituents and learning what’s really important to them. Then you build the connections between parties, and you find and implement approaches that offer effective long-term solutions to problems. There are 70,000 people in the 8th District, and it consists of several very diverse neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its specific needs, and concerns, and priorities. We have families within all income levels, and all professional and cultural backgrounds. So, as a city councilor, I want to work with matters involving education, housing, and public safety. I am also concerned with quality of life, and opportunities for cultural enrichment, infrastructure, transportation, things like that. I will work on achieving these and other objectives for the district, and I want to do it in a budget-conscious, and financially responsible manner.
You said it’s important to listen to the people of the district. As you’re campaigning, what are you hearing from them? Anything different from what you expected?
There are some issues that I wasn’t aware of, but when I talk to people in the district, there are several themes that keep repeating over and over. Schools, or actually the lack thereof, is the most painful and pressing issue. I hear about it all the time, especially of course from families with children. It is problematic for all of Boston in general. District 8 is affected by this more than any other district in the city, and it’s definitely something I would focus on right from the beginning. Another very important issue for people that I hear is affordability of housing. It’s a big issue for District 8. It’s important for us, to be able to retain population, especially young professionals and families. We have a very tight market here, and we have a limited inventory of reasonably priced housing units. The inventory growth doesn’t keep up with the demand, and it drives up the prices, for both owning and renting. There has been a lot of growth in the Fenway neighborhood, but prices went up even there, and now less people can afford it. We need to be able to bring developers, not only for luxury housing, but more affordable housing as well. And we need to continue to work with local large universities, so they build more on-campus student housing, to take pressure off the rental units.
I was just going to ask about the relationships with the universities—there has been some work done in building dorms, but you feel the City Council needs to keep the pressure on for them to do more?
Yes. More work needs to be done. And it’s of course not just the city councilor who can do that. Aside from housing pressure, there’s a lot of complaints from people about nuisance from students. District 8 is actually fortunate to have the number of large universities that it has, because they do bring economic activity and employment, and they bring people to the area. But this benefit comes with an associated problem of potentially destructive activities in the neighborhood, increased noise level, and other concerns for public safety and well-being. Schools like Suffolk, Northeastern, Fisher, and Back Bay, they all plan for expansions, and this would all come at a cost for our neighborhood if we don’t mitigate these issues. There is progress, like you say, that is always taking place. These schools are meeting with groups representing the neighborhoods, and these are important steps. But more conversations need to take place to be sure to protect our neighborhoods and families from the adverse effects, and nuisances, and inconveniences associated with our universities. We need to be good neighbors to each other, and as district councilor I would definitely facilitate these connections and conversations.
You started off by saying that you were confident in your ability to represent the district; can you tell me a little bit about the experiences that have prepared you for it?
In the past I worked in the travel industry, and this gave me the abilities and the skill to listen to people, and be a problem-solver. I’m confident I can be very effective on the city council. I can be the voice of District 8. I want to work on behalf of residents of District 8, and families, to protect their interests, through a collaborative process, where I will listen, and understand the issues. I will bring stakeholders together, and together we can craft an optimal solution that will satisfy all the parties involved. The last several years I primarily worked in my husband’s businesses, so I have business experience, and I definitely have problem-solving skills.
You haven’t been raising or spending money, so I’m interested in how you are getting word out and campaigning?
No, I specifically did not raise money for this campaign, because I want to make it about my candidacy. I meet voters in the area, either door-to-door or in small group gatherings. I introduce myself to them, I tell them about what I’m running for, what I stand for; I let them ask me questions, and talk to me, communicate their concerns and their issues to me, so I can learn about these things, and so I can propose solutions, and tell them that I care about that as well, and I would work on these issues, if they give me the chance and their vote at the election.
Mike Ross, who is running for mayor, has been the district councilor there; is there anything about how he approached the job that you admire, or that you would try to do the same—or different?
I think he was a good city councilor for our district. I think he did a great job, but many councilors did a great job for their districts and for the city. I do think Mike Ross was a great councilor for the district, but I would have my own style.
I am guessing that you are not of Italian-American heritage like your husband. Are you from Russia?
I’m from Ukraine. I went to college. My education is in the hospitality and tourism industry. I met my husband, Frank, in Ukraine, 11 years ago. We lived there a few years, and had our own business. We had a travel business there. Then moved back to Boston.
Read more Boston City Council Candidate Chats. This interview has been edited for length.