City council race: Liz Breadon running for reelection in District 9


Liz Breadon, the incumbent candidate from District 9, is running for reelection to City Council.

Breadon is running against Michael Bianchi, who was running in a mayoral bid before joining the race for District 9; Sarah Iwany, a write-in candidate; and Allston-based entrepreneur, Eric Porter.

Liz Breadon, an Irish immigrant and member of the LGBTQ+ community, has lived in Brighton since 1997. She is a physical therapist by trade and worked for the National Health Service in Britain before moving to the United States. She also worked at Boston Medical Center and Perkins School for the Blind before becoming a City Councilor.

As an incumbent candidate, one of Breadon’s primary goals is to continue to address Allston-Brighton’s housing crisis and increase the amount of affordable housing available to its residents.

“We have a housing crisis, but I’m satisfied that for a first-term City Councilor, I’ve moved the dial on those issues,” said Breadon. “Continuing to work on affordable housing is critical.”

The Scope spoke with Breadon about her campaign this year and how she plans to continue as a City Councilor if elected. Parts of this interview have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Courtesy of the Liz Breadon campaign.

My name is Liz Breadon. I’m an immigrant from Northern Ireland, and I’m the Boston City Councilor for District 9, Allston-Brighton. I came to the United States in 1995 and settled in Boston and have lived and worked in Brighton since 1997. 

I am a physical therapist by profession; before I came here, I worked in the National Health Service in Britain. Then I came to work in the Boston University Hospital, which later became Boston Medical Center. After that, I worked in home care, where I traveled around the city and got to know a lot of the neighborhoods, and then I worked at Perkins School for the Blind for 16 years. So, I’ve had a varied career in the short time that I’ve been here.

As an incumbent candidate, how is this campaign different from your campaign in 2019, if at all?

It’s very different. The last time I was running for office, I was able to take a sabbatical basically and take time out of my regular work to campaign. This year, I’m still working as a full-time City Councilor and trying to get out and about to do my door-knocking and community engagement.

Last time, we also didn’t have to contend with COVID. Right now, it’s not anything like it was last year, but I know that some people are anxious about going to gatherings, and some people are anxious about strangers they don’t know coming to their door to talk to them. So, we’re trying to contend with those issues at the moment.

What would you say are some of the biggest things you’ve accomplished in your time in office? Has any of that affected your policy goals as a councilor in 2021?

Well, I ran basically on a ticket to increase the amount of affordable housing in Allston-Brighton because the Inclusionary Development Policy [IDP] in the city is that a big developer is only required to do 13% [designate 13% of their units as IDP units]. So, when I came into office, one of the first things we did was write a memo to developers and laid it out that we expected certain things, and one of those things was to try and get 20% affordability in projects. We’ve gotten 15%, 17%, 20%, 26%, and there’s one project that we’re working on right now that we want to get to 100% affordability. It’s still a drop in the bucket in terms of what we really need because we have a housing crisis, but I’m satisfied that I’ve moved the dial on those issues for a first-term City Councilor.

The other things we’ve managed to do there was a project for homeownership down payment assistance, and there’s a project that we supported by the Allston-Brighton CDC [Community Development Corporation] where they develop a former rooming house into fourteen Single Room Occupancy units for folks who are formerly homeless and recovering. That will stabilize housing for fourteen individuals and help them stay on their path to recovery. Very, very happy with that project.

If reelected, how do you plan to achieve any of your new goals or continue to work on your previous ones?

Obviously, continuing to work on affordable housing is critical. And another big issue right now is that last week we had the UN Climate Report come out, and I really feel, as a lifelong environmentalist, that we’re five minutes to midnight here. We have to do something urgent and dramatic to try and curb our carbon emissions and build resilient communities across the city that can sustain more frequent heatwaves. Out here in Allston-Brighton, we face the threat of flooding because we’re on the floodplain of the Charles River.

We also need to make sure that our housing for seniors and school buildings has adequate HVAC so that in the event of extra heat waves that will begin in May when kids are still in school and maybe continue into September and October, students will be able to actually be in school buildings and be able to work there.

That also involves really trying to address and build coalitions to try and address the need for a really robust public transit system. We’re building a lot of new development and new housing out here in Allston-Brighton. Between what’s already been approved and built and what’s in the pipeline, we’re looking at 10,000 new housing units, and we want to make sure that it is supported with a really robust public transit system so that we don’t need more cars in our neighborhood.

We have a lot of new industries coming in the form of biotech and life sciences coming into Allston-Brighton and across the city. It’s really important that our young people in our schools take advantage of that, and I’d love to develop a workforce pipeline to get a good science education and get into those much better-paying jobs and help address the wealth gap in our city. 

Not everyone is able to or wants to go to a four-year college, especially if it entails taking on a lot of student debt. So, getting in at the ground floor at these lab jobs and perhaps going on to further education being sponsored by their employers would be another path to advancement. Those are some of the things I’m thinking about.

Is there anything that you want to say to our readers that I didn’t ask you about?

I think we are at a pivotal moment in Boston’s history. We are one of the cities that will be profoundly impacted by climate change due to rising sea levels. We have a reckoning with the racial wealth gap that we need to address aggressively. We have challenges in our school system. There’s a lot of work to do. I am, by nature, a person who will try and build coalitions, and my focus is on getting the work done. I hope that I will be reelected and continue the work that I’ve gotten started on.


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