City council race: William Dickerson III running for District 4

Avantika Panda, Reporter


William Dickerson III, former aide to Boston City Council, is running to be the next District 4 City Councilor, representing the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan and parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain.

Dickerson is running against at least nine candidates, including Jacob Urena, Joel Richards, Deeqo Jibril, Nikkia Jean-Charles, Trevour Smith, Evandro Carvalho, Leonard Lee, Troy Smith and Josette Williams for the District 4 seat. The incumbent, Andrea Campbell, is running for Boston mayor.

A native of Boston’s Dorchester and Mattapan areas, Dickerson has grown up valuing community service from a young age. His father, Pastor William Dickerson II, is a well-known figure in the Boston social activist community.

Dickerson, a Becker College graduate, has always been involved in serving and advocating for his community from an early age, including being a peer leader at the Tobin Community Center in Mission Hill.

His most recent work includes over two years of experience as a City Council aide. He also worked for the Boston Police Department’s B-3 area of Dorchester-Mattapan in the community service division. He currently works for the City of Boston.

The Scope spoke with Dickerson to discuss his campaign’s top issues and his plans to address them if elected. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What has your experience been living and working in Boston?

Courtesy of the William Dickerson III campaign.

Well, I come from a family of selfless individuals and leaders that taught me from a young age that it is more blessed to give than to receive. My mom and my dad always live by what they preach. And my dad, he’s [been] a pastor for many years. He’s now the Bishop of Greater Love Tabernacle Church. He definitely instilled into my siblings and me to try to help the community, help build community and connect with our neighbors. So I was very intentional for years, reaching out [and] getting to know everyone.

In terms of my experience, living and growing up in Boston has been a pleasant experience; actually, it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least, because growing up in any city, you’re going to deal with trials and tribulations. I count my blessings each day that I’m still here, still alive. 

I can’t say the same for countless friends that I have had over the years. This is tough when you reflect over your life and your journey, and then you think about those who aren’t here. 

I’m here to see the kids and raise families; so definitely, my experience in Boston has been great at some times but also has some very tragic and tough times. 

Also, just like I said, this being someone that lives in the inner-city and the different things you have to deal with as a man, [especially] as a Black man living in the city of Boston. 

What are the most important policy issues on your platform? 

One of the things we’re very passionate about is public safety. With public safety, some folks have said it is very broad. Inner-city violence —something that I definitely know — I’m looking to address it from day one. I’m addressing it now. I’ve been addressing it for years.

I’ve been at the forefront trying to speak out and really connect with young people, younger than myself. My run for City Council is to be in a position to really tap into resources, to provide for them, to show them that there is a better way to support each other on every level. No, it’s not about me. It’s not about the next person. It is about us coming together collectively to help our community address that issue. 

The second is mental health. I say the second is mental health because when you deal with public safety, you deal with inner-city violence… no matter how we look at it, it affects our mental health and is something that we all need to address. We all are experiencing mental health on some level; dealing with COVID in the pandemic has been a major reason.  

When we talk about mental health, I want to provide mental health counselors to be able to go into our schools and deal with our young people. We also need to have that same access available for our seniors in seniors homes or those home alone. They have been isolated for a year and a half. Isolation turns into mental health issues. It’s a lot of different layers to that.

I want to push that in the forefront and make sure that resources and the right money financially are being poured into helping them.

Lastly, on economic development… because we have to ensure that young people, middle-aged people, all the people…have a path to success here in Boston. When I was young, I walked Downtown Boston. I saw these nice, beautiful buildings, and I always thought to myself, ‘Would I ever have the opportunity to walk inside this building? Work inside this building?’ Many times that answer came back to me, ‘No’ because I didn’t know anyone who had worked inside some of those buildings. I want to change that narrative. 

I want kids in our community to know identifiable folks, people in our community that actually work in those fields work in those various departments. Our young people need those opportunities — internship programs and paid internship programs, so they’re actually locked in, engaged and see a path to success in that field and industry. 

What are your primary plans for the implementation of those policies and your major goals? 

If I’m fortunate and blessed to be elected as the next District 4 City Councilor, I will definitely implement those plans in my 100-day platform to roll them out. I wouldn’t want to speak on that right now, but I do have plans, and I’m a bridge-builder. 

I’m a team player. I want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and bring everyone in. So if I’m dealing with things pertaining to students and I ask these students, I want to bring these people to the table. ‘What are the experiences that you see day in and day out?’

I want to learn from them as much as they want to learn from me. I want to learn from them and have it where the situation is winnable for everyone. I’m very optimistic and excited about just trying to present a plan. 

How does your background prepare you for this job, and why did you decide to run?

I was blessed and honored to be able to work in City Councilor Michael Flaherty’s office. That helped me. If I didn’t work in City Councilor Michael Flaherty’s office, I wouldn’t be sitting here today talking to you about my candidacy. That changed me in many ways. 

It also gave me an inside look at the City Council — ​​the workings of the City Council on the day in, day out. Every day isn’t the same. It’s not like you walk in and, you know, ‘OK, we’re dealing with this.’ Every day is different. 

Just doing the work over the years and being an advocate in the community — [I’ve] always had a strong work ethic and always wanted to see things move forward on many levels. Some people might say to me, ‘You know, what took you so long?’ I hear that so, so often. But it comes down to having that moment with yourself. 

I’m a man of faith. I prayed on it. I also had to sit down with my family, key advisers and people I really trust in my inner circle and weigh the pros and cons. We’re in a fragile time in our world and society, so we need bridge-builders. We don’t need people that are going to divide us. We need people that are going to bring us together. 

That’s always been one of my strong points — bringing everyone together, having a plan of action and knowing how to execute that plan. 

What do you love about District 4, and what do you think you would want to work on as a City Councilor? 

Look, I love people. We have some amazing people, some amazing families, some amazing individuals that care about the community. Great conversation. It’s a melting pot. We’ve got people from all walks of life, all different backgrounds, racial backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, you know, so you learn from everyone you don’t get wrong. 

This is great because there’s a lot of love in our community, just many people who want to see our community grow. They work hard each day, and they want to help. They want to see our community grow on many levels, so that that’s what drives me nuts, what excites me about doing the work. I want to be the advocate, their voice for them. 

That is what is needed right now. As I said, we don’t need anyone that wants to make it about them. It’s not about me. I tell you all the time, if I wanted it about me, I would’ve joined the circus. Helping is about serving. It’s about being there to take our city, our community, our District to the next level. 

Is there anything else that you want to share that I didn’t ask you? 

I’m just very excited and passionate about this work. I don’t take it for granted. You might have some that stay away from voting, stay away from politics, but those are the people that I’m so encouraged by because I want to be able to bring them in. 

I want them to change their mind, change their mind because we need everyone voting. We need everyone fighting for our community, and we need all hands on deck. And we need those voices as those voices that are frustrated, also voices that have great ideas, great solutions on how to help move our District forward and move our community.



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