Another candidate has entered the race for District 8 City Councilor.
Montez Haywood, a 39-year-old West End resident and prosecutor at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, will seek the seat currently held by Josh Zakim (who isn’t seeking reelection) to represent Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway-Kenmore, Mission Hill and the West End.
Born in Flint, Mich., and raised in in Antioch, Tenn., Haywood relocated to Massachusetts to attend Southern New England School of Law (now University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth) in 2001.
Upon graduating in 2004, Haywood worked as an attorney with the Law Office of Deborah G. Kohn, a small civil firm in Fall River, before joining the District Attorney’s office to prosecute domestic violence cases in 2006.
He then moved onto community-based prosecution with the Safe Neighborhood Initiative before being promoted to the Major Felony Bureau of the Superior Court, and for the past three years, he has served as a member of the Senior Trial Team.
During his tenure with the District Attorney’s office, Haywood has handled cases ranging from serious motor vehicle collisions to murder while focusing primarily on crime in the city for the past decade of his career.
“I’ve been doing this for a little more than 13 years now…and I end up seeing cyclical levels of violence,” Haywood said.
Besides traditional recidivism, Haywood observes what he describes as a “generation trap” in which children follow in their parents’ footsteps by committing the same types of crime that made their parents perpetrated earlier.
Three years ago, Haywood joined the faculty at Harvard Trial Advocacy Workshop and soon came to recognize what set many of these students apart from the young people he had encountered in the courtroom.
“Through that program, I’ve met many young men and women, some with means and some with none, but they all clearly understood that they have family support and that they are loved,” Haywood said.
Two year ago, Haywood also began participating in the Boston University’s Restorative Justice Program at Norfolk prison.
“I’ve had pleasure to return to the jail on several occasions since then, and met men who have done the unforgivable and tried to understand why they committed these acts,” Haywood said. “Their issues all stem from one of the most basic concepts of the world – hurt people hurt other people.
“After sitting with those men and hearing their stories – their parents failed them, the system failed them – I wish to attempt to break cyclical level of violence I see in the city,” Haywood said. “We need to put more emphasis on the frontend, rather than putting too much emphasis on the backend.”
Besides spending money to incarcerate or put people on probation “who are already broken,” Montez believes these individuals should instead be attended to “before they’re broken, so we’re raising the whole human being.”
Meanwhile, Haywood described the district restructuring of the Boston Public Schools as a “very flawed plan.”
“My understanding is that they began closing schools and not keeping teachers with their students, even in cases with disabled students whose teachers have helped to get them to the level of progression where they are today,” Haywood said.
Also, Haywood said the schools should function as community centers “with resources and [enough] social workers to be able to be go out into the neighborhoods and into these young people’s homes and reengage every parent or guardian of a student in the Boston Public Schools.”
Aside from ensuring the security of elderly residents as they struggle with the rising cost of housing, Haywood would also seek to address the “significant pockets” of homelessness he sees in the city as District 8 councilor.
“And when we address homelessness, we need to treat people for mental health and substance abuse issues as well,” he added.
For more information on Haywood and his campaign, visit MontezHaywood.com or follow MontezHaywoodForCityCouncil on Instagram.