Congressman Capuano and the Campaign for Our Communities

Beatrice Bell
Spare Change News

On July 30th and July 31st, Congressman Michael Capuano and Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson came to Rosie’s Place to answer some questions and have a discussion with the ladies. Tito let us ladies know a very interesting characteristic of Capuano’s — he’s among the most accessible members of Congress, and can be found strolling through the streets of Boston. A woman in the crowd even said that she’s seen and talked to Capuano in Roxbury before.

Jackson went on even further to draw a contrast between Capuano and former Gov. Mitt Romney in his story about Mitt Romney’s visit to Roxbury last month. Jackson asked the Republican presidential candidate, “What did you do, use your GPS to get here? When you were governor, nobody ever saw you here in Roxbury. Why now?”

When asked his opinion on some of the issues that the Campaign for Our Communities movement focuses on, Capuano’s responses showed that his political stance was often aligned. Both Capuano and the Campaign for Our Communities are for human rights, gun control, and affordable housing. Both were appalled by the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and call for even stronger laws to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future. In addition, both believe we should have a better education system and affordable housing in Massachusetts and throughout the country.

Next, I asked Capuano whether he was for or against the Human Rights Law that Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey fought so hard to get signed two years ago, making Boston one of a small number of cities around the world considered a human rights city. His response was, “Human rights are a gift from God that’s given to us from the time we are born until we die.”

He said (paraphrased): I am in support of everyone’s human rights because they are necessities which we were given to us from God. The right to air, water, sunshine, food and housing are all necessities, but a big problem with achieving clean air and water and affordable food, housing and transportation is the fact that we lack the necessary money to invest towards these necessities.

One woman asked Capuano how we could address the problem of abandoned homes — homes that could potentially be turned into affordable and low-income housing. Congressman Capuano’s response was: It all comes down to money again and who’s controlling the money. The only way I know to fix the problem is to raise taxes or cut the budget. The only other solution is you raise the money yourself or you vote into office somebody like me who’ll help to try to raise the money. I’m not a good fundraiser but I do okay. My first time running for office I had a 96-year-old man give me a dollar because that’s all he could afford, and I had only one politician in my area to support me. I’m sure that 96-year-old man back in 1974 could’ve used that dollar for a whole lot better reasons than giving it to me, but he did because that’s all he could afford to contribute to my campaign. I’ll never forget him. It would be nice if lots of people could contribute large amounts of money to fix up old abandoned dilapidated buildings and use them for low-income affordable housing. But people don’t do it, because either they don’t want to or they can’t.

He added: I know you’ve probably heard it before but if you don’t vote, then your voice doesn’t get heard. You want to make a real change, then don’t do like Occupy — do better. They didn’t want to get into the political arena in order to make any real change. You need to learn about the government and then take part in it. If that means in order to make change that you have to run for office, then do it.

BEATRICE BELL is a Spare Change News

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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