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Cannon runs for 7th Suffolk rep. seat

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Cannon runs for 7th Suffolk rep. seat
Monica Cannon (Photo: Photo: Courtesy of the Monica Cannon Campaign)

Second in a series of articles on the 7th Suffolk District race. The first article can be found in the July 28th edition of the Banner or on our website.

Monica Cannon is the community liaison/senior youth worker for Roca, an organization that works to keep at-risk, court-involved youth out of jail, and is one of three Democrats running to for the Seventh Suffolk district state representative seat.

On the web

Visit Cannon’s campaign website: http://www.monicacannon.org/

A Boston native, Cannon grew up in Dorchester and has lived in Warren Gardens in Roxbury for the past 13 years. She attended Jeremiah Burke High School and received a degree in medical administration from Bunker Hill Community College. Cannon is engaged to be married and has five children, ages 13 to 18, three biological and two adopted.

She spoke to the Banner about her key issues, plans for action and background in organizing.

What do you hope to accomplish in office? What are your key issues?

Monica Cannon: I’m running to bring fresh ideas and make our government more accessible to residents in the Seventh Suffolk district. The foundation to economic building and community building is a strong public school system. Strengthening the public school systems is a key issue of mine, my top priority. Strengthening public safety is the other key issue of mine.

There are two bills currently in the State House. One is an Act Relative to Universal Pre-K Access. Right now 39 percent of Massachusetts third graders are not reading at grade level. Other legislation on table right now is the Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. Just being mindful of those two bills in regards to public safety and education [is important].

There’s been a lot of cuts to the budget in regard to BPS. Just having a conversation about what’s feasible and going to be productive to BPS kids across the board [can help]. My children are watching teachers being laid off and not have employment. They’re watching paraprofessionals not be there for the next year. I had the luxury of having a lot of teachers follow me through school. We need to sit down and have those conversations around budget and everything happening in schools right now.

Pre-K we need to focus on because those are vulnerable and coming in, and we need to make sure whatever decisions we make have their best interest at heart.

As one of 160 house members, how can you bring about the achievements you want?

MC: During my first term I will rely heavily on my background in organizing and cultivating relationships. Mobilizing individuals around a common goal has been a strong suit.

Those are 160 house members with unique beliefs and competing interests. The ability to forge relationship on both side of the aisle will be my priority. It will be beneficial to everyone.

In my day job I work as a community liaison. Part of my job is building relationships and building coalitions with other programs in the community and supporters, and I want to be able to do the same thing as a legislator.

What in your background has prepared you for this job?

MC: I have a long-standing record of being a community organizer. I was the executive director of Councilor [Tito] Jackson’s committee fund for six years, co-chair of the Young Adult Committee for the NAACP and I sit on Citywide Parent Council for BPS schools. Activism has been a major part of my everyday life living in the district, from community policing to education to youth development. Also, I sit on the board for Community Call, which focuses on homelessness of young people who have nowhere to go. Just making sure my work in the community translates to legislation.

Also, I host a Back to School Block Party, which will be on August 20th this year.

How and why did you first become involved in politics?

MC: A few years back there was an increase in violence in my community, and there were housing issues and we were going through a lot. My home was a crime scene. I had watched someone try to murder my son on two separate occasions.

I was able to rally the seniors in Warren Gardens, along with my pastor, and we had conversations about what was going on on the housing level and with safety. Both issues were connected because the property manager at time had received funding from HUD to ensure we had security and security cameras. We found out the money was not being used for those things, and we were able to advocate. Through a lot of sitting-down work I did with HUD, we got the property manager removed, we got security and security cameras, and a lot of the seniors who were being displaced based on management were now able to live comfortably based on the advocacy work. I realized if I was able to work with the community on that level, through Warren Gardens, I could do that on a state level.

What other activism or involvements do you have in the Seventh Suffolk District?

MC: I did a Dear Black Man campaign and able to rally 150 black men in one space. It was revolving around violence happening in the community, and we were able to come together with key goals on things that can be done on a community level. Often times we call on police and call on ministers, but I believe a lot of responsibility lies on residents to come together and come up with some strategic planning on making our community safe as well as calling upon police. With so much happening we have to take some accountability on our behalf.