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NEWS TO US: MARTY WALSH FOR MAYOR

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As a rule, in 15 years of existence, DigBoston has stayed out of the business of endorsing candidates. Our longstanding decision to abstain was best characterized by a cover we ran eight years ago, the day after Mayor Tom Menino won a fourth term. Fully expecting Hizzoner to wallop his challenger, then-City Councilor-At-Large Maura Hennigan, much like he eviscerated others both before and after, we ran a satirical headline silly enough to make Hub political geeks laugh out loud: “Hennigan Defeats Menino.” There was no point in endorsing one or the other. Hell–there was hardly any point in voting.

 

This time is different. As the Dig delves deeper into issues like housing violence and municipal corruption, we plan on unsheathing our contrarian or at least logical swords. That includes issuing our first endorsements ever–not just in the race to replace Menino, but also for the aldermanic and council seats up for grabs in our reader bases of Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge. For the past several months, we’ve paid as much attention to these shit fights as nearly every other entity that takes itself seriously enough to back candidates. Furthermore, we reach an important demographic that defines this city and its future–artists, students, creative professionals, young businesspeople–but that is chronically underrepresented in the local media.

As such, the Dig will no longer shirk
our responsibility to weigh in.

The marquee contest in Boston has been reassuring. While cities elsewhere are increasingly at risk of being run by libertarian posers who wish to substantially sever social services, nearly all of our original 12 candidates were somewhat sensible in such regards. From box-breaking ideas brought by City Councilor Mike Ross, to the overdue rise of former school committee member John Barros, to the sincerity of Hyde Park Councilor Rob Consalvo, the race boded well for Boston. The same can be said of the two finalists; though state Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councilor-At-Large John Connolly differ on some policy and ethical issues, they’re both upstanding and dedicated servants. Either one has the potential to competently fill the giant shoes left by Menino, the longest serving mayor in our city’s history.

Sweeping accolades aside, this was not a difficult decision. Unlike virtually ever other news outlet in town, we do not see Walsh’s labor ties as troubling. Only an asshole would deny that many unions in the public and private sectors alike must be held more accountable and kept from indirectly gouging taxpayers. Nonetheless, the wholesale bludgeoning of organized labor in the media and by Connolly has been utterly disgraceful. Somewhere in the rhetoric, large swaths of the public have forgotten that unions represent actual people, and that living wage movements are responsible for humanizing the American work week for all of us.

Walsh has weathered the attacks prudently; furthermore, he’s solemnly harnessed backing from a rising generation of young, ethnic,
and progressive Boston laborers.

Many voters who oppose Walsh still find him to be the more grounded and relatable candidate. We concur, though the enduring portrait of Connolly as a silver spoon son of gluttonous privilege is laughable. More important than his upbringing is what the councilor has done with it. As we all know from his hard pedagogical push, Connolly worked as a teacher for two years in New York, and for nearly a year in Boston. Yet while he claims to have been chiefly inspired by his classroom experience, Connolly deserted that career for law school, and later for the City Council. Both candidates are insultingly awful on education, but as the Dig noted in a news feature last week, Connolly poses a much greater risk of sacrificing union jobs and public schools to satisfy trendy baseless whims concocted by the kinds of corporate education profiteers who’ve avidly supported his campaign.

Connolly’s law career is also troubling. Though he says that he personally protected small businesses, and did plenty of pro bono work, revelations earlier this week showed that his firm, at which he was a partner until last year, defended at least one truly despicable landlord in eviction proceedings against tenants. Whereas preliminary candidates like City Councilor-At-Large Felix G. Arroyo and John Barros have stood on the front lines of anti-foreclosure actions–and Walsh has shown solidarity at pickets plus called out offending lenders like Wells Fargo by name–Connolly recently accepted $500 from the aforementioned former client of his old law firm.

Contrasts aside, Walsh is impressive on his own merits. In a day and age when an asshole like George W. Bush can pretend to do ranch work in a funny hat and cowboy boots without being universally dismissed as a fraud, it’s beyond reassuring that an intelligent working guy like Walsh can make it so far in a landmark election. We believe that everyday dude demeanor is still what a boutique metropolis like Boston needs after the intimate Menino Era. Without a true blue-collar hero in charge, the lower classes will be pushed out of this city even faster than is happening now.

Finally, we’ve been truly moved by the number of endorsements Walsh received from leaders of color–not just from fellow state reps and former mayoral opponents Barros, Arroyo, and Charlotte Golar Richie, but also from lesser known community crusaders and respected advocates like Cindy Diggs of the Peace Boston movement. Areas like Roxbury and Mattapan need extra love and care, and unlike other publications that are also run primarily by white people, we’ll defer to the front line experts on this one. With that said, elections aren’t left to experts, but rather to the few residents who care enough to vote.

If you decide to exercise your civic duty next Tuesday, we recommend Walsh.

For the Dig‘s endorsements for Boston City Council, Cambridge City Council,
and Somerville Board of Aldermen, click HERE.



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