City Limits: Meet Boston’s 2013 Mayoral Candidates

As candidates scramble for votes in the first wide-open mayoral election in decades, a transformed Boston begins to emerge.


“By the way,” said Bill Walczak’s wife, Linda, nudging him while they were out canvassing, “you have to get some glasses. You can’t keep talking to people in sunglasses. They can’t see your eyes.” It ain’t easy being a first-time candidate—there are always a million little things that you haven’t thought of. On this day, though, there was good news for Walczak, the cofounder and former CEO of the Codman Square Health Center: He was walking his own turf, Savin Hill, and his neighbors seemed to like him. Linda bragged that everyone on their street was a supporter.

Having never run for office, Walczak is without a proven base, and faces many of the same challenges Barros does. But like Barros, he also knows his community well. Walking up Grampian Way toward his home, he passed campaign signs for state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, and pointed out that she beat her primary opponent Nick Collins, a white candidate, in the neighborhood, even if only by a slim margin. “It’s a major indicator of change in this neighborhood,” he said. “And we saw it happen. It was really when the three-deckers started getting condo’d. The longtime families were able to sell, got a good price for their house, and then there were people moving into the condos, and they were newcomers.”

The newcomers, by and large, are younger and have fewer kids. “One thing we noticed,” he said: “The size of the baseball league”—he made a crashing noise—“has really shrunk.”

Walczak faces the same changing landscape that all of the candidates do. It is now simply a fact of the city that we have Irish guys marching in Haitian parades, Latinos knocking on doors in Charlestown and Southie, and everybody doing their best to be the most prideful at the Gay Pride parade. (For his part, Walczak stood out by marching in a tux, rainbow sash, and, alas, sunglasses.) “This election will demonstrate whether the traditional voters of Boston still have the kind of impact that they’ve had in previous elections,” Walczak said, walking up the hill, “but since the last major election for mayor was 20 years ago, it’s going to be very interesting to see whether that shift has occurred where people are less connected to neighborhood or ethnic voting.

“So who knows, we’ll see. We’ll see on September 24.”