Boston District 6 to decide between embattled Councilor Kendra Lara and two challengers

Politics

Ben Weber and William King are both running for Lara’s seat.

From the left, District 6 candidates Ben Weber, William King, and Kendra Lara. Pat Greenhouse and John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe

Boston’s District 6 voters have an important decision to make this fall — reelect City Councilor Kendra Lara, who is facing criminal charges, or go with someone new.

Lara will face her first hurdle to reelection on Sept. 12 when she goes up against Jamaica Plain resident Ben Weber, a worker’s rights lawyer, and West Roxbury resident William King, an IT director, in a preliminary election.

The two candidates who garner the most votes will move on to compete in the general election on Nov. 7.

The district, which encompasses Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and parts of Mission Hill and Roslindale, first elected Lara in 2021. But since then, Lara’s progressive record has been tarnished by a car crash in June in which she crashed another person’s car into a house and injured her 7-year-old son.

Police say Lara was driving at least 53 mph in a 25 mph zone. Additionally, the charges revealed that she has been driving to City Hall despite having her license revoked in 2015.

These discoveries led Boston City Councilor Mike Flaherty to call for Lara’s resignation. And earlier this month, 96% of people who took a Boston.com poll said they thought Lara shouldn’t run for reelection.

Despite the backlash, Lara has stayed steadfast in her commitment to running again this fall. She has both apologized and taken steps to remedy the situation, saying that she drives to meet the needs of her special needs son now that she cannot rely on her husband to do all the driving.

The District 6 race so far

Lara is one of Boston City Council’s loudest, most progressive voices. “It’s clear my platform and my record most align with the vision of a progressive Boston,” she told The Boston Globe over the weekend.

“I hope my worst moment does not overshadow two years of a perfect progressive voting record and policies that center working people,” she told the paper.

Still, the Globe cast Weber as the progressive replacement for Lara while characterizing King as the most moderate candidate.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of policy differences — we care about many of the same things,” Weber said of himself and Lara in an interview with the newspaper.

Unlike Lara and Weber, King opposes the controversial initiative to reduce Centre Street in West Roxbury to a three-lane road, a move which proponents say would increase road safety after multiple accidents and critics say will increase traffic and hurt local businesses.

Both Weber and King say they want to cool off the drama that’s engulfed Boston City Council, with two other councilors involved in scandals this summer.

By July’s end, Weber’s campaign reported having $19,517 in the bank, while Lara’s reported having $7,909, and King’s reported having $4,082, the Globe reported. King unsuccessfully ran for the District 6 seat three times before.

Kendra Lara

Kendra Lara is the daughter of a working class mother who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, according to her website. Born in the Bronx, her family moved to Jamaica Plain in 1990, and she still calls the neighborhood home.

Impacted by gang violence in her youth, Lara became an activist, helping found the Beantown Society, which works to end youth violence, her website says. At 19, she provided trauma support to gang-involved youths with the StreetSafe Boston Initiative.

Before becoming a city councilor, Lara was the director of radical philanthropy at Noam Chomsky’s Boston-based non-profit Resist, an organization that supports left-wing justice movements, her website says. In 2021, she became the first person of color to represent District 6, and has consistently been an outspoken advocate for racial justice.

As a city councilor, Lara chairs the Environmental Justice, Resiliency, and Parks Committee and the Committee on Housing and Community Development. In these roles, she’s championed issues such as preventing displacement, increasing affordable housing, helping the homeless, and increasing green capital projects and infrastructure.

Lara has also helped lead the fight for a universal basic income pilot program, decarbonization of city buildings, rent control, protections for LGBTQ+ community members and students, and voting rights for immigrants and young people.

“Kendra uses her head, heart, and hands to push local governments to use their imaginations and resources to expand beyond the realms of possibility toward liberation,” her website reads.

William King

Born and raised in Boston, King attended elementary and middle schools in Roslindale and West Roxbury before graduating from TechBoston Academy in Dorchester, according to his website. Early in his career, he worked at Boston Public Schools as a technology specialist.

King now works as an IT director at a local conservation non-profit, his website says. He lives with his wife Domonique and their dog Brandy.

“I’ve decided to run for Boston City Council because I want to bring the focus back to where it should be, on the residents who elected us to serve,” King wrote on his website. “If elected, constituent services will be at the heart of everything I do.”

When it comes to policy, King identifies five areas of focus on his website: housing, education, public safety, transportation, and climate justice.

He said he supports policies such as reducing barriers to building new homes, rental assistance programs, incentivizing building affordable housing units and green business practices, and increasing access to early childhood education and after-school programs.

King also said he’d like to see the city invest in the reparation and modernization of school facilities, green infrastructure, community policing, and youth violence prevention programs.

Ben Weber

A Jamaica Plain resident of 15 years, Weber is a Boston Public Schools parent and youth soccer coach, his website says. He has a wife, son, and daughter, and is part of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.

Weber began practicing law 18 years ago by providing free legal services for migrant farmworkers in the South. For the last 11 years, his website says, he’s fought for fair pay for workers at Lichten & Liss-Riordan through class action lawsuits. One of the renowned firm’s leaders is Shannon Liss-Riordan, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Massachusetts attorney general last year.

At the firm, Weber has represented delivery drivers, nurses, Black and Latino Boston police officers, and firefighters, his website says. He’s also served as an assistant attorney general in the state attorney general’s office under Martha Coakley. There, he prosecuted employers for wage law violations.

On his website, Weber said his biggest focus as a city councilor would be on improving Boston schools and education equity, protecting workers’ rights and the middle class, making housing in Boston affordable, and effective constituent services.

He said he supports policies such as capping rent increases, housing vouchers, increasing green spaces, free busing programs, making all of Boston part of the MBTA’s 1A Zone, free legal services for those facing housing issues, and decarbonizing city buildings.

Weber was also announced as The Boston Globe Editorial Board’s pick for the sixth district seat on Monday.


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