WE PROFILE THE BOSTON CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES : MARTY KEOGH

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^ at his recent fundraiser in Hyde Park

Marty Keogh is no stranger to those who follow Boston city politics. We remember him from when he served Peggy Davis-Mullen as her City Council aide back in the 1990s. He stayed with her through 2001.

Today, the Mission Hill native — “a projects kid,” as he puts it — whose family later moved to Hyde Park — lives in West Roxbury. He’s a practicing attorney — since 1999 — and married to Pamela Corey Keogh (from Lower Mills/Dorchester), has a young son, Nolan, (and an addition on the way), and is running for one of the four city-wide council seats that Bostonians will elect when they go to the polls to choose a new Mayor.

Keogh, like all his City Council rivals, is under no illusions about Council candidates’ struggle to get some voter attention. he knows that voters will focus almost entirely on the mayor campaign — as they must. He has no choice, then, but to campaign a good seventeen hours a day, everywhere in the city that he can find a spot to meet and greet, and anywhere that he can talk to a gathering. Indeed, as we do a question and answer with him in his profile, he is on the move, driving from shaking hands in East Boston to doing the same in South Boston — and points in between.

We asked Marty to answer the seven questions that we pose to all the at-large City Council candidates. What follows is, in effect, a conversation.

Here ad Sphere (HnS) : What in your loife makes you iunqiuely or especia;y qualified to be an effective councillor ?

Keogh : “Public service has been a part of my family’s history for well over fifty years, and I was taught that helping even one person in need was for the greater good of all… I got my first taste of helping people while working for the Boston City Council, serving as the Chief of Staff to (Peggy Davis-Mullen).

“I was in charge of constituent services, researching, writing and filing legislation that originated out of the concerns of these constituents, and implementing, delegating and overseeing the everyday duties that are required to run an effective city council office… actively coordinated and participated in neighborhood meetings throughout the city and served as the direct liaison between (her) and the community on many important quality of life issues.

“I then went to law school and for the last 14 years I have fought to help hundreds of juveniles and kids who had legal problems, elderly residents who have been victimized by scam artists and homeowners who were in danger of losing their homes. I often made little or nothing for my services, but the public servant in me found it difficult to turn a person in need away.

“I will always have the experience, energy and compassion to help people in need, and I hope to carry on this passion if elected…”

2. HnS : What are your two top priorities to work on if you’re elected ?

Keogh : “…I want safer neighborhoods and excellent schools in every neighborhood.
“Part of the reason people settle in a particular neighborhood is because it is safe, and it has excellent schools for their children that they can walk to.

“To the contrary, without safe neighborhoods or neighborhood schools, parents will leave that neighborhood just as quickly. It really is all about our kids, their education and their safety.

“As part my safer neighborhoods effort, I would like to see the Boston Police add 300 more “walking” police officers on the streets, fund the police budget to bring modern crime fighting technology to every officer, and place surveillance cameras in high crime areas in an effort to deter or catch criminals.

“I also want to start the process of building new schools in every neighborhood of the city where they are needed. Right now, there are still kids who don’t have books and cannot get the school in their neighborhood. I want to make sure that we have enough funding to buy new books and supplies, and to put arts, music, sports and special-ed programs back into every school.

“…also want to create a trade shop in every high school, because I know that not every kid wants to go to college, and that some kids want to enter the work force. My goal is to keep kids in school, and keep families in the city. Safe neighborhoods and neighborhood schools will help to accomplish this vision.”

3. HnS : casino vote : citywide or East Boston only ?

Keogh : “I am in favor of a Casino in East Boston, and an “East Boston only” Casino vote, because I recognize that this proposal will create jobs, revenue and capture Massachusetts money that will otherwise be lost to Connecticut. My decision shall rest upon the vote, intent and wishes of the East Boston residents.”

4. HnS : school reform : longer school day — yes or no ? Do you favor any of the other reforms in (John) Connolly’s agenda ?

Keogh : “I am in favor of longer school days, but only if teachers are fairly compensated for their time.

“It would be unfair to force teachers to work a longer school day without being properly compensated. As it stands now, a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the final bell rings. Teachers often work late and/or at home to prepare curriculum, tests and correct papers long after the school day ends, so as to be ready for the children the following day.”

“While I think that all of the Mayoral candidates have excellent ideas for the schools, the bottom line is that I believe in the Boston Public schools, and I believe in neighborhood schools.

“If the next Mayor wants to build more neighborhood schools, help decrease the dropout rate, make students proficient in all areas of education and bring sports, arts, music, trade schools and special-ed programs into every school, then you can be certain that they will have (in me) at least one friend on the city council.”

5. HnS : Charter schools : lift (the) cap ? partial cap (lift) ?

Keogh : “I am not in favor of lifting the cap on Charter Schools… I share the concern of most Boston parents that some Charter Schools are not inclusive enough because they do not accept special-ed kids or kids that can’t meet their educational criteria.

“I think that the Charter Schools we have now are doing well and that parents are satisfied with the education that Charter Schools provide their children, but I am also cognizant…that the Charter Schools are depleting much needed funds and resources from the Boston Public schools budget.

“I am one of only two city council candidates who actually attended the Boston Public schools and I believe we can make our public schools better.”

6. HnS : BRA : replace (it) ? Reform (and if so, in what ways) ? Should there be a separate board for planning (as some Mayor candidates have proposed) ?

Keogh : “The BRA has done a tremendous job transforming our economy, neighborhoods and skyline since the 1960’s, but the BRA needs to be more accountable and more transparent to the public it serves.

“Does that mean the BRA should be abolished? The answer is no.

“But the BRA needs to involve the public, and conduct all meetings, even if on the internet, that are open to the public.

“I don’t buy the baloney that we can’t get rid of the BRA because it is an agency mandated through the state legislature. We can, but when has the City Council actually ever tried to get rid of the BRA?

“The new City Council, if we work together, can make changes or recommendations which would, at a minimum, expose any conflict even if we have no power to stop the conflict. Through Home Rule Petition, the City Council could also recommend changes that would abolish the BRA or create a planning board separate from the BRA, as was the case prior to 1960.

“Or we could draft legislation that requires approval of any BRA project be brought before the City Council for complete review or ratification.

“But before we condemn or condone the actions of the BRA, we need to compare the pros and cons of having an independent redevelopment agency versus not having one at all. The entire reason the BRA was created was to end stagnant growth, urban blight and decay, which, for decades, was caused by the politics and inaction of the city’s leaders of the 30’, 40’s and 50’s.

“One area I would like to see the BRA focus on would be on inner city development as opposed to development among our city’s waterfronts. I love the way the city’s skyline looks, but I would love to see our inner city neighborhoods given as much attention as the Seaport District.”

7. HnS : Marty walsh says ‘there’s a heroin epidemic in the city now.”
Do you agree ?

Keogh : “I agree that there is a heroin, oxycontin and overall drug epidemic in the city of Boston and beyond.

“It is pretty clear that we have to offer help to drug users to get them off of drugs, but a much stronger emphasis has to be put on incarcerating the people who actually deal those drugs. I was impressed with the recent coordination of the many police agencies who tracked, found and arrested everyone connected with the Marathon bombings. It was through the concerted effort and sharing of information of all of our police that this happened in such a short period of time. It proves that good police work can yield great results and it helped put the public’s mind at ease.”

“If posible, I would like to see this effort re-created to reduce the amount of drugs, guns and violence, particularly in our inner city neighborhoods.”

HnS : thank you, Marty, for your thorough and detailed responses.

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^ answering a supporter’s question, at his Hyde Park “time.”

We summarize : Keogh’s responses make clear that he is as serious as a serious candidate can be. And that he will not be easily rolled in a candidate debate, or in Council meetings if elected. Fun is fun, and nobody we have met in this campaign is more fun to be with than Marty. And when there is business to attend to, Keogh is all business. It will be interesting to watch him bring his thorough preparation and fighting intensity to a Council debate this Fall.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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