Boston voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to elect the city’s first new mayor in 20 years. After six weeks on the campaign trails with the two final candidates, WGBH reporters have produced weekly, in-depth reports on the major issues. Sarah Birnbaum has this final roundup of Marty Walsh’s platform.
You can't miss the signs in this Boston Mayoral race. For Marty Walsh, his name is plastered on store fronts and apartments- from Chinatown where friends chatter in Mandarin to East Boston where Spanish music floats from open windows.
Behind the signs, Walsh has spent six weeks repeating his message: State Representative Marty Walsh , the 46-year-old son of Irish immigrants, blue collar roots, the child cancer survivor, and recovering alcoholic. As a champion of organized labor, Walsh has campaigned in every corner of the city, and struck a chord with a trifecta of endorsements from three of his former rivals- all candidates of color.
In the preliminary, candidates of color won 9 of the city’s 22 wards. And communities of color are expected to play a decisive roll in the race.
At a forum hosted by the urban league of Massachusetts, Walsh pledged to break down racial barriers in schools, business and government:
“As mayor of the city of Boston, I’m going to make sure not that I just work with the building trades, to change the face of building trades, or change the face of organized labor, or change the face of the business community, but I’m going to work to change the face of city hall.”
Walsh's strength and his Achilles heel is his close ties to labor. Unions have pumped about $2 million into his campaign and are driving his get out the vote efforts. Critics say he’s too cozy with unions and will be beholden to them in office. But Walsh says his labor ties leave him uniquely positioned to negotiate favorable deals to the city.
Take education, where Walsh says he will negotiate with the teachers union to reopen up its contract to add hours to the school day.
"I’m going to ask the teachers union to take a look at their contract. Right now they’re in the middle of the contract. And I’m going to ask them to talk about it now, not wait until the contract expires. We need some concessions now. We need some changes now so we can move the school system along."
On transportation, Walsh says his experience as a state lawmaker positions him to win state funding from the legislature and governor’s office on transit portation projects, like better bus service in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury:
"We’ve also got to look at additional service, bus lines, and more frequent bus lines. And the way I would do that as mayor of Boston is to work with MassDOT and the MBTA to get that additional service."
On the issue of city development, Walsh wants to replace the BRA with a new economic development agency whose director would serve under a contract and be less tied to the mayor’s office.
"I think its important for the community to feel they have a voice in the BRA, and also its important for us to look at how the business community is handled, so they can really get an understanding of how the project is moving and how quickly or how long it will take to get a project from the beginning to the end."
On the issue of public safety, Walsh says education is key to reducing youth gun violence:
“I think one of the big things we have to do long term strategy is keep our kids in school. I think we have a high number of dropouts that drop out of high school, and when they drop out of high school they end up on the street, and when they drop out of high school, they have no place to turn.”
On the final day of the race, Walsh is greeting voters in the swing areas of Roxbury, Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain. He will await election results at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston.