Boston Mayoral Election

oct2013_bostonMayorBoston is looking to elect a new mayor in November. The current mayor, Mayor Thomas Menino has been in office since 1993 for five consecutive terms, and has decided not to run for a sixth.

In late March, Menino revealed his decision: “I’m here with the people I love, to tell the city I love that I will leave the job that I love.”

Since this announcement, there has been a flurry of movement among potential mayoral candidates who would like to take Menino’s seat. What kind of mayor will succeed Menino? He is known for being an excellent mayor, who developed many neighborhoods, touted pro-equality politics, created highly successful programs like “Boston Bikes,” and turned “Beantown” into “Greentown.”

Twelve non-partisan candidates successfully acquired enough signatures to run in the primary for the election, which was held last week on September 24th. The two candidates with the highest vote counts will now advance to the final election on Tuesday, November 5th.

Marty Walsh and John R. Connolly had the two largest percentages of votes from the contested primary, taking in 18% and 17%, respectively.

It is refreshing to see an election in which the candidates are not branding themselves with party affiliation, but rather with the issues they stand for. The non-partisan stances give Walsh and Connolly more freedom to show the residents of Boston in what direction they each believe they could lead the city.

Marty Walsh has served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1997 and “established himself as a leader on creating and protecting jobs, and growing the economy.”

For this election, he has highlighted twelve key issues on his website, several of which set him apart from Connolly. First, he wants to address the commerical sex industries by giving support to women who are trying to leave prostitution, while refocusing enforcement on “enablers.” Walsh sees another area of opportunity in workforce development; he believes that “living wages, health and social benefits, and safe working conditions” are key to having a healthy city fabric. Finally, Walsh wants to focus on access to affordable housing, which he believes is “essential to a thriving economy.”

John Connolly has been a city councillor for Boston since 2007. In this role, he set himself apart with his focuses on education and environmentalism. He held meetings with students and parents to improve the public education system, and to benefit the environment he worked to fight climate change and promote the bike program that Mayor Menino started.

Connolly’s key ideas that separate him from Walsh include reducing homelessness by funding homeless shelters and expanding mental health services available. He would also like to increase the number of public events in parks, and add recycling to all parks in an effort to make Boston greener. A final idea that sets Connolly apart is his passion for the arts. He wants to support art in Boston by increasing art education, developing live-work spaces for artists, and even, creating a Boston-level department of arts and culture.

Both candidates indicate they care about public safety, education, greening the city, improving neighborhoods, making Boston a competitive job creation market, and bettering public transportation.

Given the strength of the two candidates, I believe that whichever is elected, Boston will have found a good new mayor.