Six Quincy City Council candidates attend forum as November election looms

Six candidates for Quincy City Council’s three at-large seats participated in a multilingual forum at North Quincy High School on Oct. 11, answering questions regarding education, public safety, transportation and tax ahead of the city council election in November. The forum was translated into Cantonese and Mandarin.

A forum for Quincy councilor at-large candidates took place Oct. 11 at North Quincy High School. (From left) Steve Tougas, Margaret LaForest, Nina Liang, Anne Mahoney, Dan Raymondi. (Image courtesy of Valerie Li.)

The candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot are Noel DiBona, Nina Liang, Margaret LaForest, Anne Mahoney, Dan Raymondi and Steve Tougas. Candidate Stanley Dong Fang Xiao had the fewest votes from the Sept. 12 primary and will not go on to the general election.

Language accessibility was discussed, due to the increasing number of Asian immigrants in Quincy, who comprise almost 30 percent of the population

“I want to encourage more Asian Americans to apply for jobs with the Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and all sorts of public works,” said DiBona, whose mother is of Thai descent.

Liang, who comes from a Chinese immigrant family, greeted the crowd in Toisanese before switching over to English. “We are here to build the City of Quincy into a more diverse community and we should bring more funds to find translators into public works.”

DiBona and Liang share the distinction of being the first Asian American city councilors in Quincy when they were elected in 2015. Current at-large councilor Joe Finn has decided not to run.

Tax breaks were another forum topic. “We need to bring a residential tax break immediately for people who live here. It doesn’t matter how much it would be,” said Mahoney, who is on the school committee.

Mahoney suggested filling up empty storefronts with retail businesses to help bring in more taxes. “We are building a lot of buildings but we are not filling them,” she said. “We are spending more than we are bringing in and those empty buildings can help with commercial taxes in Quincy.”

Liang also supported bringing more businesses to boost tax revenue. “We need to push for big offices and companies to generate more commercial tax so we have a bigger budget to fix infrastructure and build schools,” she said.

DiBona supported lower property taxes for residents, but added tax cuts should be a “balancing act” so the city could continue providing public services. “On the South Shore, kindergartens could charge up to $4,000 per year per child. But in Quincy, it’s all free. We don’t pay for trash [pickup] because the tax pays for that. I’m going to help with lowering the tax for you but you will need to keep the public services intact.”

LaForest of Ward 1 said to “look at the new apartment buildings and think about whether we should be taxing them at the residential rate or the commercial rate.” Apartment owners and renters could potentially generate more tax revenue for city infrastructure.

Aside from tax plans, candidates also discussed improving transportation. “I want to make sure our roads are maintained better than right now. Our traffic situation is a mess and the developments needs to do more for us.  It’s great to have development in certain sections of the city but they need to do more infrastructure repair for us,” said Raymondi, former commissioner of the Public Works department.

John Brothers, former executive director of Quincy Asian Resources (QARI), moderated the forum.

The event was organized by QARI with Asian Community Development Corporation, South Cove Community Health Center and Massachusetts Asian and Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network (APIs CAN!).

Most of the audience was of Asian descent; many used the provided translation headsets. The election will be on Nov. 7. For more information, please visit www.quincyma.gov/govt/depts/city_clerk/election/polling_places.htm

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