Boston City Council At-Large Race: Henry Santana


“I am determined to use my voice and my platform to advocate for policies that promote equity, justice, and opportunity, and to working collaboratively with everyone to build a stronger, more resilient city.”

Henry Santana.

Henry Santana, 28, is originally from the Dominican Republic, but grew up in Mission Hill.

Santana formerly worked as Director of City of Boston’s Office of Civic Organizing, and is seeking his first term as city councilor at large.

We surveyed Santana on his priorities and some of the most pressing issues facing the Boston City Council this election season, based on input from our readers.

The following responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

What are two of your top priorities that you would like to address?

My top priorities as a candidate for Boston City Council are housing and public safety.

Growing up as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, access to public housing was key to ensuring my family was able to stay here and thrive in Boston.

I know firsthand the difficulties of securing housing and will advocate for funding for affordable housing initiatives, support community land trusts, and promote policies that prevent displacement and ensure housing stability.

Gun violence has had a devastating impact on communities in Boston. I will prioritize the implementation of evidence-based strategies to reduce gun violence and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods.

This includes supporting community-based violence prevention programs, advocating for stricter enforcement of gun laws, investing in youth employment and educational opportunities, and strengthening partnerships between law enforcement and community organizations.

What solutions would you support regarding the area of Mass and Cass and the underlying issues of addiction, mental health, and homelessness?

We are seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic here in Boston, Massachusetts and across the country.

The intersecting crises of mental health, substance use, and unsheltered homelessness at Mass. and Cass area is a humanitarian issue that should be treated with care and urgency.

In order to address this, I support initiatives that prioritize access to housing and treatment for those battling addiction. This includes leveraging city and state resources to ensure access to transitional housing and treatment programs are available for those in need.

At the same time, working with neighbors, businesses and community partners, along with city agencies and first responders, is essential to ensuring the overall safety and cleanliness of the neighborhood.

By fostering collaboration, we can create a holistic and equitable response that supports individuals and addresses systemic causes.

How can housing in Boston be more affordable and inclusive of all communities while mitigating gentrification?

Public housing allowed my family to put down roots in Boston and have real stability. I want that type of housing stability for every Bostonian.

As a young person and a renter, I know we need more affordable rentals and real paths to affordable homeownership. We must leverage public and private land to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Boston should invest in a range of housing models, including social and cooperative housing, as well as supportive and low-threshold housing options for residents experiencing homelessness.

We must also require developers to build more deeply affordable units, through an enhanced IDP policy and by better enforcing our “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” zoning provision.

We should also work with owners of vacant commercial buildings to convert them to housing. To protect tenants, I will advocate for rent stabilization measures and robust tenant protections.

With the rental market continuing to push residents out, it is crucial that we use every tool available to prevent unjust evictions and unfair rent hikes that lead to displacement.

By actively involving residents in local decision-making, we can also ensure that development aligns with community needs and aspirations, while also mitigating risks of displacement.

What does the city need to do to address gun violence and improve public safety?

Public safety needs to come first in every decision we make as a city. In Boston, every single incident of violence impacts so many residents and families and ripples through our communities.

Ensuring that every resident, every family is connected to high quality resources and services is a top priority of mine.

We must also urgently work to get guns off the street while addressing the root causes of violence – poverty, lack of pathways to opportunity and systemic racism.

I will also advocate for major investments in youth programs, summer and afterschool initiatives, which are key in empowering our young people to reach their full potential and connecting them with safe spaces and opportunities.

Additionally, we need to continue to do all we can to build more trust between our police officers, first responders and community members.

Community policing models that prioritize dialogue, problem-solving, and building relationships can enhance public safety.

By investing in services, public safety agencies, economic opportunity and robust community partnerships, we can make sure residents across Boston are safe and feel safe across every neighborhood.

How would you improve Boston’s roads and public transit?

For Boston’s roads and public transit to work, we need to invest in improving transportation on a city level and advocate for an MBTA system that is safe and reliable.

As a City Councilor At-Large, I will continue to push the T for better service and work closely with Boston’s newly selected MBTA board representative, Mary Skelton Roberts, to ensure we are getting results.

At the same time, we need to make our roads safe for everyone who uses them, especially pedestrians and cyclists, through critical infrastructure improvements.

I also support active engagement with communities to provide bikes, helmets, bike share access, lessons and bike repairs for residents to encourage and empower active transit in all of our neighborhoods, especially low-income, and communities of color.

Many readers say they’ve lost faith in the Boston City Council. How would you work to regain their trust?

I am running for Boston City Council At-Large because I believe that our city needs leaders who are laser focused on getting things done and committed to creating a better future for every resident.

I am determined to use my voice and my platform to advocate for policies that promote equity, justice, and opportunity, and to working collaboratively with everyone to build a stronger, more resilient city.

My career has been dedicated to giving back to my community, helping our most vulnerable, and inspiring the next generation. I have over 15 years of experience with the Mission Hill Summer Program, have served constituents in Councilor Kenzie Bok’s office, and served under Mayor Wu as the City’s first-ever Director of Civic Organizing.

I know how local government works and have collaborated with residents, community groups, and elected officials no matter their views or positions for years across all neighborhoods to deliver excellent constituent services, organize community events, and make a real difference in the lives of our residents.

As your Boston City Councilor At-Large, I will work tirelessly to remove barriers, amplify the voices of marginalized communities, and advocate for policies that uplift and empower all Bostonians.

Together, we can make Boston a city where every resident has access to what they need to thrive. A Boston where we all work together to build the city our families deserve.

It’s time for a new generation of progressive leadership in City Hall that is focused on fighting for families and getting things done for all of Boston’s residents.

Find out more about Henry Santana on his website and social media.