JPNC Candidates for 2023

Meet the nominated Candidates for the 2023 JPNC Election! Candidates are listed alphabetically by type of seat (At-large, Area A, Area B, Area C).

Eligible residents over the age of 16 can vote for up to 5 At-Large Candidates and 5 candidates from their Area at any of the polling locations.


Dave Baron

As a current member of the Neighborhood Council, I have worked to create a fairer, more open, and more participatory process on JP zoning matters in which all voices and perspectives are heard. I am committed to advocating for Jamaica Plain and for our priorities as a neighborhood within the City of Boston, and I am a strong supporter of local businesses and local JP events. I would also like to see more dog parks approved in JP, and on that basis my own dog Scout is supporting my candidacy in an unprecedented departure from her strict no-endorsements policy. 

Esther Belliard

My name is Esther Belliard. I’m from the Dominican Republic. I’m a single mother of two beautiful daughters & two wonderful grandkids. I’m a Christian. I’ve lived in JP since 2022. I love JP because it has a diversity of races–especially Hispanics. Currently, I’m a member of the JPNC Housing & Development Committee and Jackson Square Lifting Our Voices for Safety (JSLOVS) Building Captain. I have met with the Boston Police Dept. to discuss safety issues in my neighborhood. Plus, I’m advocating for increased funding for programs for youth/children. I want to make JP a better place to live for everyone.

Sarah Freeman

Sarah Freeman has lived in JP since 1993 – longer than anywhere else (born in Sweden, raised in Ohio).  Recently retired after 40 years in public health/epidemiology, her work, researching the role of physical activity in chronic disease prevention, ties into her personal life: former marathon runner, advocate for public health: safer conditions for walking and bicycling, for environmental health: parks, open space, trees and nature, plus environmental justice & social justice. Sarah is a member of the Parks+ Committee and attends Public Service, Housing & Development Committees & Police Procedures subcommittee. She also plays trumpet in the Metropolitan Wind Symphony.

Luke Mathew

Luke Mathew is a youth program coordinator and research assistant at the Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. Luke graduated from DePaul University’s school of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. After graduation, Luke served in the Peace Corps in rural Paraguay as an agricultural extensionist. He worked closely with families, agricultural committees, local schools, and NGO’s. He grew up in Roxbury’s Mission Hill neighborhood and holds a master’s in public health at Northeastern University. 

Purple Reign (Joanne Paul)

My name is Purple Reign (Joanne Paul).  I was born in Cambridge, MA, but grew up in Boston.  I’m a member of JPNC Housing & Development Committee, Jackson Square Lifting Our Voices for Safety (JSLOVS) Building Captain, Mass Senior Action (MSAC), Union Capital Boston (UCB), Vital Village (VVCP), Rosie’s Place Public Policy & Boston Vegetarian Food Festival (BVFF). I advocate for Seniors, Racial Equality, LGBTQ+ Rights, Veterans, Youths, Low-Income Housing, Food Insecurity, Plant-Based Lifestyles and People Experiencing Homelessness. I’ve lived in JP since 2020. I love JP for its vibrant, artistically rich and diverse neighborhoods; great restaurants, Jamaica Pond, and the Arboretum! 

Michael Reiskind

Michael Reiskind is a long-time resident of Jamaica Plain and a hard-working community activist involved in many aspects of neighborhood life. He is presently the Secretary of the Council. He also is Chair of its Public Service Committee, where he works on public safety, public works and transportation issues. He is a board member of JP Centre/South Main Streets, theJamaica Pond Association, The Arborway Committee for Public Transit, Inc. and the JP Business and Professional Association. In addition, he has been a leader working with the Boston Police Department on reform and changing their procedures.

Area A

Peter DeCotis

Peter DeCotis came to JP in 2020 to be closer to work and friends. Originally from NH, Peter loves kayaking, hiking, and everything outdoors. He is a staunch advocate for free and open access to public spaces, preservation of natural resources, DEI, and affordable housing. While searching for the best place to live in Boston, Peter fell in love with the Arboretum, the Pond, and Franklin Park. With easy access into downtown and the most friendly, eclectic people anywhere, JP became home. He is thrilled to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion for all in the JPNC.

Willie Mitchell

My name is Willie Mitchell.  I’ve lived in JP for most of my 69 years of life. I love JP’s diversity & that’s the key to keeping it growing. I’m the proud father of 3 sons & 3 daughters.  I’m retired but I worked for over 45 years as an Advertising Media Executive for radio/television. In 2020, I helped launch “Living Safely in Jackson Square” (LSJS) and then we created a coalition, “Jackson Square Lifting Our Voices for Safety” (JSLOVS).  I’m a JSLOVS’ Building Captain. I’m on the JPNC Housing & Development Committee.  I would love to represent Jackson Square & Jamaica Plain. 

Danielle Sommer Kieta

Danielle Sommer Kieta is an affordable housing consultant and small business owner. She joined the JPNC and the housing and development committee this winter. She is a life-long resident and participant in the community. Passionate about affordable housing and urban agriculture, Danielle attended Boston Public Schools and Bowdoin College. In the years since graduating, she has dedicated her time and career to community, including several local nonprofits dedicated to youth and community leadership. She believes it’s important that the neighborhood council represent and reflect the diversity of our community and is excited to continue to serve Jamaica Plain.

Renee Stacey Welch

Renee Stacey Welch has lived in Jamaica Plain in her family home on Montebello Rd from 1975 until October 2021, when she moved to her new home in Egleston. She is a 48-year resident of Jamaica Plain. Over the last 18 years, Renee has managed several financial institutions. Her passion is educating people on how to finance and manage homeownership. Renee is currently pursuing her advanced degree in Business management. Close to Renee’s heart is making the JPNC a place where all community voices are heard and represented & making JP a place where everyone feels welcomed and safe.

Area B

Lorenzo Bartoloni

Lorenzo is a lifelong Jamaica Plain Resident of over 20 years. He is currently an undergraduate student at Northeastern University studying Human Services and Psychology with a minor in Urban Studies, but lives with his family on Union Avenue in his off time. Lorenzo is currently working full-time at Fenway Community Development Corporation as part of Northeastern’s “co-op” program and would like to remain in Boston’s nonprofit field as long as possible. He is hoping to bring a youthful and progressive perspective to the Council and is a big advocate for truly affordable housing and community uplifting.

Leah Simmons

Leah is proud, excited, and humbled to be running for the JPNC. She is committed to ensuring JP remains a thriving, prosperous, and unique community – a place we all want to live. Leah lives in JP with her two cats (Moops and Ernie) and her partner (Ivan), and enjoys running the Southwest Corridor. Current Favorite JP Licks flavor: Black Raspberry Cookies ‘n’ Cream.

Paige Sparks

Paige (she/her) is running for a council seat in Area B of the JPNC. She has lived in JP since 2019 and in Boston since 2011. She joined the Council in 2022 after participating regularly as a neighbor since 2020, and has a particular interest in public safety, new development, and community engagement. She has served on the Public Service Committee (and Subcommittee on Police Procedures), Zoning Committee, and chairs the Outreach Committee. Originally from Colorado, she works in clinical research at one of the local hospitals. If elected, she hopes to continue pushing for equitable community engagement.

Ben Weber

Ben Weber has lived with his wife and two kids in JP since 2009- from renting an apartment on Cranston Street to owning a house on Spring Park Avenue. An attorney with 18 years of experience fighting for worker’s rights, he began his career providing free legal services for migrant farmworkers and has spent the last 10 years representing workers in class actions nationwide. He recently joined the JPNC and serves on the Housing & Development Committee. He is running to make a positive contribution to the neighborhood in the hopes of leaving it better than he found it.

Area C

Nicholas Chaves

Nick Chaves (he/him) is running for re-election after filling a vacancy on the JPNC in early 2022. Nick moved to Jamaica Plain in 2021 and has lived in Boston since 2014. Originally from the Southcoast of Massachusetts, Nick attended Northeastern University for his undergraduate education and is back at Northeastern pursuing a law degree. He is passionate about the environment and sustainability, public transportation, and engaging with community members. Nick is excited to continue contributing to the work of the JPNC and explore more of JP’s green spaces and restaurants (and always willing to swap recommendations)!

Bernard Doherty

Bernie Doherty was a member of the JPNC from 1985 through 1997, and during this time served as the Chair of the Zoning Committee overseeing the Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) process.  He also has served as President of the AsticouMartinwood-South Street Neighborhood Association for the past 30 years and was a founding member of the Community Planning Committee for the Arborway Yard and a member of a number of other community-oriented organizations.  Bernie was born and raised in Jamaica Plain and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Boston with a major in International Marketing.

Katherine O’Shea

My name is Katherine O’Shea, and I’m a 25-year-old JP resident running for an Area C seat on the JPNC. I’ve been living in Jamaica Plain since September. I work for an engineering consulting firm as a transportation engineer. Through my job, I’ve gained experience coordinating with private and public agencies and have become familiar with the development process. I would bring to the council technical knowledge related to traffic impact analysis, parking supply and demand, and stay up to date about progressive transportation and urban design policies. I welcome the opportunity to represent the neighborhood and initiate meaningful change.

Jeffrey Paquette

Jeff and his wife, Heidi, have lived in JP for 27 years. He can’t imagine a better place for them to

have raised their two children, benefitting from wonderful green spaces, playgrounds, sports

leagues, restaurants, and enduring friendships. Jeff has spent his career in the non-profit sector

working on a range of issues including education, affordable housing, and youth development.

He feels a particular responsibility to give back to the neighborhood that offers so much to him

and his family and wants to ensure JP continues to develop and evolve in ways that are fair and

equitable for all.

Peg Preble

Peg Preble has lived in JP since 1991. She is presently on the Neighborhood Council, and on the Zoning and Public Service committees. Peg works in the JP area as a residential electrician, and has intimate knowledge of many neighborhood attics and basements. Her love for the quirky housing stock of JP and the wish to ensure that the neighborhoods have a voice in their community drew her to the council.

Alexis Rickmers

I’ve served on the JPNC since October 2021, and I am the Parks committee chair. Since becoming chair we have hosted multiple parks clean ups; coordinated with other local organizations; reached out to the local groups to discuss the SWC bike path paving; sent a letter to the City after the assault in Franklin Park; organized a table at Wake Up the Earth; etc! I have a monthly newsletter and Instagram (@jpnc_parks). I have lived in JP since 2020, and Boston since 2017. I think JP is so special, and I try to be involved as much as I can.

Gert Thorn

A resident of Jamaica Plain since 2013, Gert plans to continue focusing on the neighborhood’s quality of life and our environment. He has served on various boards including as neighborhood association president in Brooklyn; a member of a Town Planning Board in CT, and on a historical society board. Gert is interested in ensuring that our community continues to be diverse, we improve our built environment, and provide resources to residents. Gert is an experienced architect and is well-versed in working with multiple stakeholders. He has been an advocate of environmentally-responsible design and is proactive in engaging with community members.