District 7: Faulk hopes former rivals will lift election hopes

Rufus Faulk

Rufus Faulk, who finished in second place in last week’s preliminary election for District 7 city councillor, is hoping that support from some of his former rivals will help him mount an upset victory over first-place finisher Kim Janey in the Nov. 7 final election.

Faulk, 34, finished with 719 votes — or 11.7 percent—in last Tuesday’s balloting, which featured 13 candidates. Janey topped the field with 1,532 votes,— or 25 percent.

The day after the primary, Faulk emailed the candidates who finished behind him to ask them for their support. “I’m trying to bring as many great people to this team as possible,” he told the Reporter this week.

According to his campaign, preliminary candidates Domonique Williams, Charles Clemons, and Angelina Camacho have already thrown their support behind Faulk. In total, those three earned 1,263 votes, still less than Janey, but Faulk said he is hoping that gives him an edge going into the final.

“Rufus is more than an advocate. He hasn’t just been telling the community’s stories, but he’s someone who has actually been part of those stories,” Camacho said in a phone interview. Camacho noted that the crowded primary fractured the district, but there is now an opportunity to come together in November.

Faulk's campaign notes that he has also been endorsed by State Rep. Chynah Tyler of Roxbury— whose district overlaps with much of District 7.

"As a constituent, I am voting for Rufus Faulk because he is committed to our community, dedicated to the progress of our community and has proven to me that he has what it takes to uphold the legacy of District 7 as our next Boston City Councilor," Tyler said in a statement.

Alfreda Harris, former Boston School Committee member and a Roxbury community leader, is also backing Faulk, as is State Sen. William Brownsberger, Rev. Jeffrey Brown and Rev. Dr. Raymond Hammond, according to Faulk's campaign.

Just over 6,000 people voted last week in District 7, which comprises of all of Roxbury, as well as parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway.

Faulk says that running for the city council in the neighborhood he grew up in, and where he is now raising his three-year-old daughter, is the obvious next step for his work in the community. “What I bring is a personal context that, honestly, hasn’t been in City Hall,” he said.

After graduating from Temple University with a degree in history and business, Faulk said he knew that he had a responsibility to come back to Roxbury and give back to the community that raised him.

When he got back to Boston in 2005, he began mentoring students at the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Grove Hall where he was once a student. But the advanced work program at the King school that had given the young Faulk the resources he needed to gain admission to Boston Latin Academy had been cut.

“I believe that education impacts everything from employment to housing— it’s every opportunity,” he said.

Faulk said he saw an opportunity gap in his district that needed to be filled, and he committed to filling it. He started working at the Ten Point Coalition, an organization that seeks to combat violence by forging partnerships with some 100 community-based organizations.

Through his work at the coalition, Faulk has engaged with youth involved with violence and shootings through a gang mediation initiative. “Your city councillor is supposed to be the first call you make, but for a lot of people in the community I have been the one bringing that to the district for the past 12 years,” he said.

Faulk has helped to develop a neighborhood-based trauma response protocol. He says he worked with City Council President Michelle Wu to raise funding for youth summer jobs, organized public safety meetings, and coordinated back-to-school drives, giving more than 500 students backpacks filled with supplies.

Realizing that he needed to gain a better understanding of public policy to do all the work he wanted to do, Faulk earned a master’s degree in urban affairs from Boston University. He now is pursuing a doctorate from Northeastern, where his thesis focuses on the impact of advanced work classes.

“Advanced work is the pipeline to the exam schools, and Roxbury doesn’t have a single elementary school that offers that,” Faulk said.

In last week’s crowded field, Faulk earned 115 more votes than third-place finisher Deeqo Jibril, but it was just enough to get his name on the ballot for the general election in November against Janey, the favorite based on her fundraising and first-round vote total.

“When we look at voter turnout, we have to look at why so many people don’t think that [voting] has any impact on their quality of life,” he said.

“As city officials, we have to do a better job of communicating what we’re there for,” Faulk said. “We need to be engaging folks in the housing developments more than anything, but I’m trying to reach out to every corner of the district,” he added.

Maddie Kilgannon can be reached at m.kilgannon.news@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter at @MaddieKilgannon