Get off the pot!

Walsh and ConnollyWell, it’s time for the PI to make a decision on his favored candidate for the Mayor of Boston…or not. Last night, a young woman from Hyde Park braved the fall chill to become the eighth Marty Walsh visitor to our door since the primary. She stood on the front steps and read our names off of an iPhone that apparently identified us undecided folks leaning toward Walsh. Can an iPhone ever be wrong? She was not a volunteer, but a paid canvasser with Working America, a labor-created political action group that is supporting Marty. I have no problem with Marty getting support from labor groups like Working America, although I do wonder about some of the late money that flowed into the campaign.

Our visitor arrived shivering, so we invited her into the house to warm up a bit. She had her script, but she quickly went off script to share that she is particularly impressed by Marty’s commitment to get construction jobs for women and minorities and his support for the struggles of people fighting addiction. Liz and I both said that we don’t doubt those commitments and consider them to be very important. But I went on to offer my now-tired questions about Marty’s perspective on the schools, and Liz expressed some of her fears that a Walsh administration might not be able to escape the old politics of patronage in Boston. Our visitor agreed that these were important issues, but hoped that we’d see a way to make a final decision for her organization’s candidate. She brought up the next address on her phone before going back out into the cold.

Strangely, we’ve had no personal connection to Connolly’s campaign, but have a much stronger personal connection to him than Marty Walsh. Campaign visits matter, but so, too, do personal connections…

not cynicalNo Connolly campaigner ever made it to our door, but the candidate, himself, came in after a party across the street (at a house now sporting a Connolly yard sign) in early October. As a city councilor and as a parent, he has taken the time to learn about how the BPS really works. The group, Quest, has some of its roots in a house meeting with Connolly, the councilor, in April 2012. I respect Connolly’s knowledge of and commitment to the schools, but I think his conclusions about what will move the BPS forward are simply wrong. He has hitched his wagon to a national educational reform movement that I believe is doing a lot of damage to urban public school systems around the country and I fear it would have some of the same effects here.

Both candidates have made compelling statements about affordable housing, youth employment, economic development, public health and many other issues that are important to Liz and I. Despite the efforts by both the Globe and the Herald (not to mention many of my friends) to distinguish the two candidates, I don’t see a huge difference between them on policy, including education policy. Much has been made about the class difference between the two of them: Marty, the working class hero and John, the politically-connected, Harvard-educated lawyer. They absolutely do come from different class backgrounds, but Marty has lived a life of social mobility that has put him in a different position today. Class background once would have meant everything to me, but I guess I’ve had enough working-class disappointments to make that less of a reflex reaction today.

Wayne and FrogSo, on the way to Connie’s soccer practice, I’ll go by our polling place at the union hall on Colgate Rd. tonight. Connie will go into the polls with me and she’ll mark the ballot as she always does. We’ll first vote for at-large city council candidates and, perhaps, a council candidate from this district. Then we’ll have one more conversation before I tell which of the mayoral candidates to mark. Connie likes both the candidates, but the fact that Connolly came to our house won her over to the councilor’s side. I won’t be voting for someone who is with me on this issue I’m most passionate about, but I will vote (and assume a measure of responsibility for) a candidate who says he’s committed to making Boston work for ALL its people. At least I’ll be off the pot…

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6 Comments

Filed under Just Parenting

6 responses to “Get off the pot!

  1. Angela

    PI, when the Walsh campaign talks about their interest in ALL of Boston, I know they are excluding me and my neighbors. At the risk of being dismissed as an example of a stereotype I’m attempting to overcome, I will say that I cannot vote for Mr. Walsh because his campaign has completely written off the downtown neighborhoods where I live. We are considered too prosperous and apathetic to be courted, much less listened to. No one would argue that the concerns of the wealthier neighborhoods should occupy the attention of City Hall in equal measure to intractable challenges with roots elsewhere in the city. But the downtown neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway/Kenmore, West End, etc. are not just businesses and landmarks and a parade route for our victorious sports teams – there are real people and families here. Walsh may be a stand-up guy on his own, but the reverse snobbery of his campaign has inserted a divisiveness that speaks poorly for his potential administration. I believe John Connolly will be the better steward for all of Boston.

  2. Thanks, Angela. I wish more people would respond here. I’ve gotten many comments to me, personally, but you’re the first to offer your thoughts here. I think Walsh is honest about his interest in becoming the Mayor of all of Boston, but I agree that his campaign and his independent supporters haven’t always projected that. For me, personally, it is a tough one. I feel that downtown has made out pretty well over the Menino years, so I think it is refreshing to see a campaign focused more on the other neighborhoods, but I do understand your concern.

    • Angela

      PI, don’t make me talk about my go-to issue of the lack of public elementary schools in my BPS desert. I became aware of your blog sometime after Mr. Menino made his ‘neighborhood schools’ speech in January 2012 and I sought to become more educated about BPS. Now that we are both drinking the cod liver oil that is BLS, I am ever more the devoted reader. The tone of your blog has kept out the snarkiness that is too common in online back-and-forth these days, so I do wish your readers would share the wealth with others and comment online too. Go get that red-white-and-blue sticker.

      • I’m happy to hear you talk about your desert, or any other desert! I should say that the private comments are all telling me to get a life and say something that tries to convince others on an important issue. I guess I should rename this, “Hand-wringer Imperfect.”

  3. Laura

    PI, here is another perspective — I’ve just read this article today:
    http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2013/11/03/boston-mayoral-race-greg-selkoe-endorses-john-connolly-for-mayor/
    It will be exciting to see what happens, whatever the outcome of the election.

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