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Boston: Mayor Wu Announces Renato Castelo as Inaugural Director of Office of Participatory Budgeting

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~ Mayor Michelle Wu today announced Renato Castelo as the inaugural Director of the Office of Participatory Budgeting. The office, created by an ordinance approved by the City Council in February 2023, will provide the structure necessary to enhance public engagement and direct involvement in the City's budget. Castelo will begin working in his role on June 20, 2023.

Mayor Wu expressed her enthusiasm for Castelo's appointment, noting his "proven track record of engaging communities and working to ensure access to the resources they need to thrive." Chief Financial Officer Ashley Groffenberger echoed this sentiment, expressing her confidence that Castelo's skills and experience will help establish a fiscally responsible participatory budgeting process that includes resident voices in the budget.

Castelo has most recently served as Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives in the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA). In his role, he has engaged residents, community organizations, City of Boston staff, the business community, and other relevant stakeholders to develop initiatives that support and empower immigrants to better integrate them into the civic, economic, and social fabric of Boston. Prior to joining MOIA, Castelo worked for nonprofit, state government, and private sector institutions over a span of 14 years. His work has centered on advancing the rights and opportunities of immigrants and low-income residents through partnerships and coalition building, community engagement and civic education, and leadership development. Originally from Ecuador, Castelo holds a Masters in Education Policy and Management from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives in Packard's Corner Allston and enjoys biking to City Hall.

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Castelo expressed his honor at being appointed to this new role with Mayor Wu's vision for furthering democratic involvement in the City's budgeting process at heart. His priority is engaging with City residents as well as members of an external oversight board composed of nine Boston residents with varied experience and expertise to create conditions for people to have a voice in budgetary decisions that impact their lives. The office will work across departments and agencies as well as external organizations with communities across Boston year-round for public involvement in budgeting.

The external oversight board will be tasked with submitting participatory budgeting project proposals to Mayor Wu for inclusion in the City's budget while also assisting with creating a participatory budgeting rule book outlining policies/procedures for this process. Five members will be appointed directly by Mayor Wu while four more will be appointed from a pool provided by City Council; all board members have two-year terms.

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The Office of Participatory Budgeting was created following approval from voters during 2021 Municipal Election who wanted direct feedback on how tax dollars are spent; it is aimed at empowering constituents alongside city officials while evaluating where resources might be most equitable/valuable. More information about this can be found on boston.gov/budget.

Filed Under: Government, City

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