For Alex Gray, BC ’06, advocating for others has been an essential part of his extensive career in public service. Gray, a Democrat, is running for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council and has the potential to be Boston’s first blind councilor.
“I think nationally, it’s good to have representation,” Gray said. “For me, I am the first blind person to be running in Boston … and I think that’s important representation, especially in these times of COVID-19. You don’t really hear much from the disabled community, but I think it’s time to bring those voices forward. And I think it’s also time to have those voices wherever decisions matter, like in my position as city councilman.”
Gray currently works as a policy analyst in the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife. He announced his campaign for city council in September 2020 and the vote for city council will be held on Nov. 2, 2021.
Under Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, he worked on starting Boston’s first Tuition- Free Community College program, committing the City of Boston to paying for up to three years of community college for eligible low-income students. Prior to this position, he worked as former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s adviser on transportation and public safety, launching a commuter rail in Fairmount.
After graduating from BC, Gray went on to serve in the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Sacramento, Calif., helping to give emergency services to the homeless. He then went on to become a legal liaison acting as an advocate and providing emergency services for the homeless for the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, which provides permanent housing for the homeless, and later attended law school at Suffolk University.
Following law school, Gray said he worked in every neighborhood in Boston, from Jamaica Plain to the South End, and said these experiences helped shape his enthusiasm for helping the city.
“I want to fight for these people and listen to their ideas and take action,” Gray said. “I want to be able to take people’s ideas and put them into action because I understand their frustration, especially in this pandemic.”
Gray said he plans to further the progress he has made with Walsh and Patrick. He also said he wants to provide good wages for Boston residents and increase access to affordable housing, especially for seniors and the disabled.
Gray said he understands that people have challenges and barriers to overcome in life and that he hopes to fight for those struggling and ensure their viewpoint is heard at council meetings.
“All people deserve to have their perspective, lived experience, and background represented,” Gray said.
As a member of the disabled community, Gray said he has witnessed how this group is affected by unemployment, access to housing, and feelings of isolation. As a result of the pandemic, forms of communication like Zoom have been more widely used.
“Some people don’t have access to WiFi or others don’t have the money to get devices that have access to WiFi,” Gray said. “And there’s even accessibility issues, like for Zoom the words don’t come on the screen.”
With his perspective on accessibility issues being shaped by his own personal experience, Gray said he wants to bring disability to the conversation.
“I mean, I’ve seen again how [the disabled community has been] affected by unemployment, taxes to housing, and how they feel isolated in society,” Gray said. “And, I want to change that and bring their perspective and have their background represented.”
After going blind due to a genetic condition at 11 years old, Gray said it taught him to become a good listener. He said he developed his skills by listening to sports games. This laid the foundation for him to make a career out of listening to others and hearing their stories.
“It’s really helped me to make a career out of listening and hearing other stories, and really understand them and genuinely hearing them,” Gray said.
Gray emphasized the need to listen to his constituents.
“Through my work with the city, I was able to listen to people and hear about their day-to-day lives,” Gray said.
Gray said he wants to provide access to resources to those who need it most, while also giving a voice to those who aren’t as well-represented in society.
“It’s time to have a voice where decisions matter,” Gray said.
Featured Image Courtesy of Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons