For O’Malley, it seemed like a homecoming. The incumbent City Councilor already knew many of the seniors in attendance and was even greeted with hugs and kisses by a few of them.
O’Malley, who grew up in Roslindale and currently lives in Jamaica Plain, explained to the residents that he has been active in the community since he was a 14-year-old bagging groceries at Roche Bros.
Since taking office in 2010, the incumbent said he has been in support of the Quality Choice Plan for student assignment reform to improve Boston Public Schools, said he helped fund two knew classes of police recruits, and has worked closely with Boston’s Main Street district to expand small business development.
“When I first ran for this seat, I remember knocking on doors and the most often repeated phrase that I would here in West Roxbury was, ‘we have too many banks on Centre Street.” And we do… but now we’re seeing some great restaurants and other small businesses,” O’Malley said.
Valerio, who lives in West Roxbury, focused on introducing himself to the group of over 30 seniors who were in attendance in the Holtzer Auditorium, explaining that he came to Boston 14 years ago from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
As the father of two children who attended Boston Public Schools, the City Council challenger said he is running as a parent.
“I’m running to improve the quality of Boston Public Schools,” Valerio. “I’m not running as a politician, but I’m running as a dad.”
Valerio said his main goal is to create more classrooms for elementary schools, hire more teachers and have fewer students per classroom by reducing the amount that city is spending on bussing students.
O’Malley and Valerio also said they would each focus on improving public transportation for senior citizens after some at the Deutsches Altenheim German Centre had problems with applying for The Ride.
Although the crowd was small and their speaking time was brief, each candidate said that Friday’s session was beneficial to his campaign.
“I heard a very positive response in terms of votes,” O’Malley said. “A number of people told me that they already voted for me, which is great. To me this was just like talking to a bunch of friends. I worked with the majority of the people in this room on constituent service issues, senior issues in the last three years and I’ve done it because it’s the best part of the job- getting to help people.”
Valerio said the conversation was a great way to express his message to voters.
“They are my neighbors and I see them when I go to the YMCA or the Roche Bros,” Valerio said. “This is my neighborhood and I’m going to do what is best for them. Many people didn’t even know me and had the opportunity to ask me questions and now they understand that I’m for improving the school system… and creating programs for seniors.”
O’Malley and Valerio, who each said they respect each other, will face-off on the ballot on Nov. 5.