City Limits: Meet Boston’s 2013 Mayoral Candidates
The conventional wisdom on Mike Ross, the city councilor for Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, and Mission Hill, is that he’s in a tough spot. Ross, 41, certainly has a story—his father was a Holocaust survivor, his mother is a lesbian—and after 14 years on the city council, he also has accomplishments to run on. He was a key vote to stop the plan for a new Fenway Park, at the time defying Menino. That alone should be worth a few votes from local seamheads. And his district has come through for him with fundraising: He pulled in $151,000 in June, bumping his kitty to $538,514, the third highest among candidates.
The problem with all those wealthy people in his district, though, is that they haven’t voted in great numbers in past municipal elections. Neither have the hordes of Northeastern students who live beside Ross in Mission Hill. Those groups typically come out only for national elections. Ross’s task is to rope them—and people like them in the other downtown neighborhoods—into participating in the politics of the city.
If he can, it could pay off: Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, Boston’s downtown population increased more than 50 percent. The South End was up 12 percent, the Fenway 15 percent, and the South Boston waterfront has boomed from nothing into a thriving neighborhood where people pay thousands of dollars now to live in closets (or micro-apartments, as they’re officially known). In the last presidential election, Ross likes to point out, the Seaport was South Boston’s highest-voting precinct. Perhaps more than any other candidate, Ross has tailored his message around business development as a driver for good, pointing to the effect restaurants and cafés have had in spurring the development of his neighborhood, Mission Hill. “If we can do that there, and the good people of Ashmont and Dorchester can do that there, and if the people outside of Boston can reinvent Chelsea and Everett and Medford and Pittsfield—if Pittsfield can be reinvented,” he said, “you can’t tell me there is a single street or neighborhood, anywhere in the city limits, that can’t be improved or redeveloped.”