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This four-part white paper series was created by the Boston Area Research Initiative to provide our city’s next mayor with the perspective of members of our academic community. We stand ready to assist the mayor as experts, residents, and stakeholders in Boston’s future. We invite all readers to consider how Boston can continue moving forward by learning about the challenges confronting Boston in Transportation, Public Safety, Climate Energy, and Housing.

Papers were invited and reflect the views of the authors. They are not intended to reflect the views of their institutions, nor BARI members generally. Special thanks to Katharine Lusk at Boston University, Dan O’Brien at Northeastern University, and Michael Johnson at the University of Massachusetts Boston for spearheading and editing this series


What the Next Mayor Needs to Do about Boston’s Transportation Crisis by Justin de Benedictis-Kessner (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) and Kathryn Carlson (Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, Harvard University).

To move forward on any of the challenges confronting Boston, we have to think about how we are — physically — getting there. Climate energy, economic recovery, and racial inequity all intersect with transportation. Thankfully, the transportation conversation has evolved over the last few years and the next mayoral administration is well-positioned to embrace the intersecting implications of this policy issue. Contact Justin de Benedictis-Kessner ( with any questions regarding this paper.

Public Safety

Advancing Public Safety In Boston an Agenda For The Next Mayor by Jack McDevitt, (Northeastern University) and Janice Iwama (American University).

This white paper is intended to provide a historical overview on policing in Boston, a summary of the current threats and challenges facing the City of Boston, and recommendations for the next Mayor of Boston on how to improve public safety for all individuals who live, work, and visit the city. Contact Jack McDevitt ( with any questions regarding this paper.

Climate and Energy

How The Next Mayor Can Accelerate Boston’s Equitable Clean Energy Transition by Rouwenna Altemose (All In Energy & Browning the Green Space), Jacquie Ashmore (Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy & Browning the Green Space), Cutler Cleveland (Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy), Jeannie Ramey (Climable), Gabe Shapiro (All In Energy & Browning the Green Space), Mary Wambui (Planning Office for Urban Affairs & Browning the Green Space), Jen Stevenson Zepeda (Climable).

This paper expressly seeks to answer the question: How can Boston’s next Mayor equitably and rapidly accelerate the city’s clean energy transition to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and fossil fuel emissions for our city and region? It examines both near and long-term opportunities, including existing programs that would benefit from a rigorous evaluation, new investments, and the added supports needed for community-based efforts. Contact Cutler Cleveland ( with any questions regarding this paper.


What the Next Mayor of Boston Needs to Do about the Affordable Housing Crisis by Keren Mertens Horn (University of Massachusetts Boston) and Meghan Elizabeth Kallman (School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, University of Massachusetts Boston)

Boston is currently experiencing two overlapping housing crises. The first is an immediate crisis due to the pandemic and ensuing recession. The second derives from a long period of tremendous economic growth across the region that outpaced regional housing production. This paper expressly seeks to answer the question: How can Boston’s next Mayor improve affordability, stability, and equity in the city’s housing market? Contact Keren Mertens Horn ( with any questions regarding this paper.

Prior to this white paper series, BARI hosted its keynote conversation at the BARI Conference 2021: Building Back Smarter with four candidates for Mayor of Boston on the role of data, technology, and research under their administration, and how the research community would be able to contribute to their priorities. View the Session.