BOSTON MAYOR RACE : TIME TO CHOOSE

The Primary takes place Tuesday. The deciding time is now.

To help you decide, we now present what in our view is the strongest argument for each of the nine candidates who have impressed us. Some carry more authority than others; this is inevitable, for people do differ. Still, all nine hopefuls deserve support. How MUCH support is for YOU to decide.

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1. John Connolly.

He owns the campaign’s number one issue — public school reform — and articulates an encompassing plan with passion and detail; a plan which he connects convincingly to two other issues that really matter, with solutions that he articulates persuasively : better jobs and public safety in the neighborhoods. He has broad support all across the city. He has a hip understanding of the new, burgeoning Downtown. If school transformation, cultural awareness, and support from every corner of Boston are your idea of what the next Mayor should be, John Connolly is your man.

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2. Marty Walsh

If John Connolly is a cool dude, Walsh is a hot button, a candidate of urgency. No candidate in the race matches Walsh’s civil rights record. His supporters embrace him with a passion no other candidate approaches. Walsh owns the campaign’s second biggest issue : the Downtown Building boom — which he wants extended by school construction, the potential East Boston casino, and an entirely redeveloped City Hall Plaza. He has the most forward plan for recruiting business es to locate in Boston.

Curiously, for a man so committed to a booming Downtown, Walsh seems culturally very unhip, even unaware. And his education plan seems limited compared to Connolly’s, though it has its strong points, especially on emotional and social education — very cutting edge curriculum items. Walsh has the backing of most Boston labor unions — but not the Teachers — and this has hurt him as much as helped.

Still, if extending Boston’s construction boom, bringing in new business, and having a Mayor who doesn’t view union workers as the opposition are your agenda, Marty Walsh gets your vote.

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3. Dan Conley.

He’s received almost no endorsements — Connolly has almost all of them — but he doesn’t really need endorsements. Conley is known well already and, as Suffolk County District Attorney, he represents and has been elected by the entire City. He’s even less hip than Walsh — is exactly whom you’d expect to find at a VFW Post or an Elks lodge — but makes up for it by having as progressive a record on staff diversity as anyone seeking to be our Mayor. No candidate would be tougher on reform of the City’s Police and Fire departments — both much needed; Conley displays a better knowledge of City administration, and its failures, than any of his rivals in this race. He doesn’t like casinos much but isn’t obsessed with stopping them. If thorough reform of the City’s various administrative departments is your top priority, Conley gets your vote.

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4. Charlotte Golar-Richie.

She is of course the only woman in the race and has become the top choice of Boston’s African-american political community. (Note, however, that the Caribbean Political action Committee endorsed John Connolly.) Golar-Richie has authoritative experience in Boston government, as Tom Menino’s Director of Neighborhood Development, represented Dorchester’s least politically active ward (15) in the Legislature, and worked in Governor Patrick’s administration. She has gained the support of State Representatives Moran and Michlewitz; they are actively campaigning on her behalf. Golar-Richie’s advocacy of issues often lacks depth or detail, and it’s not clear what her top priorities are — other than advancing women to top positions in the Police and Fire departments — but her broad base of support, ability to command Boston’s African-American politics, and advocacy for women moves you, Golar-Richie is your vote on Tuesday.

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5. Felix G. Arroyo.

We have known Arroyo since he was a small child growing up as the namesake son of Felix D. Arroyo, Massachusetts’ s most successful politician of Latino heritage. Arroyo has his Dad’s passion for raising the disadvantaged and the poor up into the economic mainstream; they — and the City’s children who find themselves set back in school because at home they speak languages first other than English — are his top priority for attention. He also advocates assuring disadvabtaged kids a sure connection to better jobs, and he seeks the formation of new businesses (his “invest in Boston” program, whereby banks in which Boston deposits its billion dollars are required to lend to and invest in local businesses first, has just been voted favorably by the City Council).  He speaks of securing crime plagued neighborhoods from youth violence, which he rightly sees as the result of lacking opportunity. If attention to raising people usefully out of poverty is your first priority for Boston’s next mayor, Arroyo is your man.

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6. John Barros and Mike Ross.

They’re a matched pair, really. The campaign’s two smartest and most visionary candidates forsee a very different Boston than the City we live in today, a City radically evolved in transportation, working wages, environmental green, effective housing plans for every income level, and smart entrepreneurs — all of which both men articulate eloquently and in very practical detail. The mayoralty of either would be an adventure. Hardly any City department is deployed to anything like the City they want to bring about. Voting for Barros or Ross, rather than Connolly — who would likely be the more cautious choice for voters considering these two men — depends upon how successful you think Barros or Ross would be in making their visionary Boston happen. Many voters will decide that adventure into tomorrow is needed right now. They will want to vote for Barros or Ross.

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7. Rob Consalvo and Bill Walczak.

I’ve paired these two very different candidates because both have made a single issue their campaign gravatar, and those for whom either man’s single issue is the vital necessity for Boston may want to give that issue greater attention by so voting. For Walczak the issue is stopping casinos– in particular both the East Boston casino AND the casino project planned for Everett, right next door to Charlestown — and building an East Boston “innovation district” instead. (why we can’t have both, Walczak does not say.). If you agree that a casino in Boston or Everett needs be stopped so badly that all other issues come second, Bill Walczak is your man. For Consalvo the issue is advocating the Boston Teachers’ Union (BTU) plan for Boston school reform : first principle of which is to curb, if not end, charter schools. There is much in the BTU reform plan — a ten page manifesto well worth reading from top to bottom — that commands support, especially its commitment to give all students, including the difficult kids, equal access to core curriculum attention well beyond the MCAS requirements. No one should plan a school reform that does not command the enthusiasm of school teachers, whose job is so exhausting, exciting, demanding. Those who want Boston school teachers to be heard at school reform time may think the surest way of getting there is to vote for Consalvo.

8.There are three other candidates on the ballot, good men all — Charles Yancey, Charles Clemons, and David Wyatt — but none has drawn significant voter support, mostly because each has run a limited campaign often lacking in depth beyond a demonstrable passion for issues that the major campaigns have not focused upon. You may decide to vote for one of these men. They all deserve attention to their issues : Yancey, his long experience and knowledge; Clemons, making the City administration “look like the City”; Wyatt, his skepticism about the ability of City government to do much better than it has. For us, the significance of their candidacies lies in their infusing their issues into the campaign discussion. A vote, though, seems one infusion too far in such a deep field of strong candidates.

—- 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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