Openly gay candidate for Boston City Council
The first thing you’ll notice when you meet Francisco White is his easy smile. Soon after, you find yourself impressed by his sense of confidence and the unique point of view of this young East Boston resident who just a few weeks ago announced his candidacy for Boston City Councilor at Large.
“I’m really excited in this moment to be able to share my vision and my concerns,” he remarked during a recent conversation.
Born in the South Bronx, NYC and raised in Springfield, MA, White left home at age 17 —and was homeless, in fact—after coming out to his parents, from whom he was estranged for four years.
He dropped out of high school but persevered, quickly earning his GED. He moved to Boston in 2011 after living in Charlotte, NC for several years.
To him, Boston was the “promised land” full of opportunities, which is why he returned from the South to Massachusetts. However, he quickly realized that Boston, like many other places, has unresolved issues.
“I’ve lived in several different cities and what I’ve seen are similarities. There’s an achievement gap, a discrepancy in the level of access – for example, unequal schools based on neighborhoods; that’s pretty much similar across the country.”
Another of White’s main foci is the lack of access to reasonably-priced housing in Boston.
“[Mayor] Menino wants to build 30,000 units of housing by 2020 but only 6,400 affordable. He’s being so self-congratulatory. Because we haven’t had anyone be a voice for that, the topic has been marginalized.”
What’s unique about White is that he speaks often about inequality based on income and class rather than based on race or sexual identity. This, even though he identifies as a gay, Afro-Latino man who says he lost a job due to his sexual orientation and faced housing discrimination in Charlotte.
His short stints with AmeriCorps and MassVOTE gave him the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to him and to educate himself on civic engagement and voter rights. “I’ve learned so much from the youth of Boston.”
He is a member of the Green/Rainbow Party, which also sets him apart from other candidates. “I’m surrounded by people who share my values.” He was a registered Democrat and an Obama “Organizing Fellow” but halfway through last year’s election cycle he became disillusioned, feeling “let down” by the Democrats.
“At the local – and national – level, there is so much talk, and so much good intent, but very little action, or inadequate action.”
White confidently asserts that he would have run for city council this year even if there weren’t two open seats available. By running, he’s had to suspend his studies at Newbury College.
Already, he’s openly critical of Boston’s city councilors. “Menino wields all this power” and the current councilors fail to challenge the mayor even when they feel differently. “We have so many people serving their own interests in City Hall. Everyone has their own alliances, their own agendas.”
“This is why I chose to run.”
“I want my candidacy to inspire people to be more involved and those who are marginalized who feel they don’t have a voice; I want my candidacy to remind people of their right to vote and right to run and that we all have ideas that should be considered at the very least.”
To many voters, White will come across not as a naïve newcomer but an earnest and sincere young man wise beyond his 26 years, full of ideas you probably won’t be hearing mentioned by other candidates during the coming spring and summer months.
Visit Francisco’s campaign website at http://www.franciscolwhite.com to learn more about him and to get involved.
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