He doesn’t see it this way, or at least that was the impression he wanted to give to reporters, but Marty Walsh spent the 2017 State of the City address making the case for keeping him around.
He laid out an agenda, in a city where inequality looms larger than anywhere else in the country, that sought to address both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, he laid out his ideas for investment in education, school buildings, and affordable housing development. On the other, he argued Boston should be a place where high-tech innovation can flourish, where big business finds it worthwhile to settle down, and where City Hall Plaza can morph into a winter wonderland.
It’s a vision, he said, of a Boston that improves in every neighborhood.
“We are a city that believes every single person deserves an equal chance to thrive,” he said. “And when we stand together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. We don’t wait for a better future, we create it.”
In an election year, those will be his priorities. And whether he’s still mayor in 2018 depends on whether voters believe he’s the best one to do the job, or whether they think that person is City Councilor and, now, mayoral candidate Tito Jackson, who, with other councilors, sat in the front row and took it all in.
When asked if he was seeking to counter Jackson, whose message has been that the city’s growth has left low- and middle-income Bostonians behind, Walsh said he wasn’t.
“I don’t counter anybody. I’ve been the mayor for three years,” Walsh said. “We’ve been doing it for three straight years and I’m going to continue to do it as mayor.”
A few highlights from the speech:
Meanwhile, online, Walsh opponents were waging a counter-offensive, flooding the official hashtag for the event, #SOTC2017, with scores of tweets using #MartyLostMeWhen. Many were familiar faces from the campaign that opposed bringing the 2024 Olympics to the city, and many of the tweets made reference to Walsh’s support for the games and the myriad controversies that stemmed from it.
In an interview, Jackson declined to describe the moment Marty lost him (he supported Walsh’s campaign in 2013), instead saying this: “I would simply say in 2013 I chose the best candidate on offer, and in 2017, I’m the best candidate on offer.”
November is coming
Support from the #10PeopleOnTwitter notwithstanding, it’s hard to ignore the evidence that this will be a remarkably challenging campaign for Jackson, given the many advantages afforded a sitting mayor. As has been noted in Boston and elsewhere, you get a pretty good boost from being able to lay out a grand vision—much of which many would-be Jackson supporters endorse—in front of the entire city like this. Tuesday night was one more chance, after a weekend of MLK Day events that featured Walsh prominently, to do just that.
But Jackson was in full campaign mode last night once the speech wrapped up and the audience started trickling out of Symphony Hall. Although they agree generally on some of the major priorities a mayor of Boston ought to have—schools, housing—Jackson says there is plenty of daylight between the two of them.
For one, he says, he wouldn’t trouble himself with dealing with helipads and big tax incentive packages, nor would he be “distracted by” ideas like Olympic bids and IndyCar races—both of which fell apart and, he says, squandered precious time and resources.
“Our city’s future was put in jeopardy based on a $12 billion party. We won’t be distracted by things like the IndyCar race which, again, put our financial future of the city in jeopardy,” he says, adding, “We have to have our priorities straight.”
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2017/01/18/state-of-the-city-2017/
Copyright ©2019 Boston Magazine unless otherwise noted.