Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh fielded questions from David Ertischek of Patch.com on his experiences in West Roxbury, Boston Public Schools and more.
Click here to hear state Rep. Marty Walsh, D-Dorchester, talk about what it means to be a "union guy" in the mayoral race.
Patch: Talk about your experiences with West Roxbury?
Walsh: I worked with (former state rep) David Donnelly in '97, '98 when there was a move to privatize hcokey rinks. It wasn't run by Roche Bros, and we wanted to keep them for kids in the inner city. We kept the rinks under control of DCR. Ultimately, the Roche family took control of the hockey rink. It was a win-win, you had a local business who wanted into a local organization.
Also, the West Roxbury YMCA. I’ve worked with them... being in charge of building trades, I worked with them indirectly to make sure the trades got the right prices to build the new YMCA. And the Irish Social Club when it needed help. (State Rep. Ed) Coppinger called me and I got the roofers to do a free roof, and hooked them up with electricians and wired the building. And that reinvigorated the Irish Social Club and they were talking about closing it. I have family in West Roxbury, life-long West Roxbury residents.
Patch: As mayor what can you do to decrease violence in Boston?
Walsh: That’s not a simple answer to that question. One way is improving our schools and keeping our kids in school. A lot of violence in our streets is kids who dropped out of high school. They lost every type of economic means to advance through life. We have to improve our school system. There are a couple different issues – poverty, substance abuse, mental health, lack of public health. We really need to get into neighborhoods and address issues out there. We also have to educate people who can’t obtain employment because they don’t have high school diplomas.
This poverty question is one of biggest issues. We have a big gap between the middle class and the poor and we have to address that.
Patch: How would you address that?
Walsh: The first thing is going into communities with the Boston Public Health Commission and doing survey house to house and finding out the challenges - like a political campaign. For example, (a) house where there’s no mother or father and you can identify a young person in gang culture. How do we address the roots to get someone out of the gang culture? Also, throughout the school system we need wraparound services – about 15% of kids in Boston are homeless children getting bounced around to shelters.
Patch: What would you do with the current school assignment plan?
Walsh: It's still early. I don’t believe it gets implemented until next year. The effects is to have the best opportunity to have strong neighborhood schools. Our plan is allowing for different types of schools – we still need transportation to move kids. It’s not one size fits all. Some schools should specialize in music or art, or other schools specialize in math, or specialize in languages. Ultimately, I would like to see families have their first choices to local schools, but they might like an option in another neighborhood next door. Certainly, at the high school level we have major improvement to do there.
Patch: How will you utilize innovative technological advancements to keep Boston being one of the most modern cities in the world?
Walsh: Updating the internet service. Google entered into partnership with Kansas City and in doing that, businesses are flocking from the southern part into Kansas City. There’s no reason Boston shouldn’t be looking at partnering the same... Updating our files, our technology. (In talking with) one of the seniors, they were saying they can’t get across the street because light signals are all (too fast). In 2013, we should be acting like its 2013. We have cores of young peple who go to school here but end up leaving. I lost cell phone service in Franklin Park – that shouldn’t be happening.
My girlfriend's nieces and nephews, one is 9 – give (a phone) to a 5-year-old and they could be pumping buttons. It was different when I was growing up. But I certainly know... even in the State House we just completed a new webpage. We want to change the way we do business. A birth certificate online is more expensive than going into city hall. We can print off airline tickets.
Patch: Boston Mayor Menino will leave the city in very good financial standing, especially considering the recent recession. What is your budgetary experience, and how will you foster financial growth for Boston?
Walsh: My experience is very, very deep. I’ve worked on 17 budgets in the Legislature, and I’ve helped craft them. I’ve had to make tough decisions as Boston went through bad times. We’ve gone through three bad economic times: 2001 (after 9/11), 2004, 2005 through 2008, then we were creeping out of it, then went back into it 2010. (When looking at) Economic indicators I’m not too positive about the budget for 2015, we haven’t come out of this recession yet. It's kind of like an earthquake and we’re still dealing with the aftershock. I would be a fiscal conservative mayor of Boston. It’s not my money it’s taxpayers money, and I'd be making sure every nickel and dime is well spent.
I’m creating an office of economic development to recruit businesses to Boston and also work to create businesses in Boston to team them up with partners to find them a site. Verizon is looking to move 500 call center jobs to North Andover. We should not lose those jobs.
Patch: What color are your candidate signs? Why did you go with that design?
Walsh: Red, white, and blue. When I ran for rep, my uncle Pat ran for Labors Union 223, he had red, white, and blue. I reversed his colors. We went thorugh about 30 different styles. And we still had arguments over it. It’s truly patriotic - red, white and blue for our country.
Patch: Climate change and how it will affect Boston is a huge topic for the future, what are your plans to deal with climate change?
Walsh: We're going to have a comprehensive approach, talking about the whole environmental conversation. One thing that needs to be done is educate homeowners more to update their house for energy efficiency. There is a program - Next Step Living – they come to houses and (and evaluate energy efficiency). Look at the problem when cable TV first came to Boston. We really need to give neighborhoods and education that saves their money and saves the economy. Second thing – and not in this order – is to mandate all construction to do green construction. Diesel trucks - we can’t mandate they’re not diesel, but they’re idling. We have to be cognizant of the fact these trucks idle they’re harmful and putting things in the air. These same trucks are causing high asthma rates, and we have to protect those families living in those neighborhoods.
(A good example is the new) Spaulding Rehab, which is built for a Superstorm Sandy event. That’s happening, we have to make sure all of our buildings are ready for that. If Superstorm Sandy happened in Boston, we would’ve been flooded in Dorchester and parts of West Roxbury... I want an expert in my development office that deals with green construction and green technology whether it's private or public, we should push them to what we want to see.
Patch: You’re a state rep, how would it be different from working at the State House to running City Hall?
Walsh: A completely different job. You go from one of 200 as a legislator to the chief executive officer of Boston. The benefit of being a legislator is that I have relationships in the State House and could leverage those to bring more aid to Boston through programming during the budget. And I could leverage a lot more resources to Boston. But ultimately the job comes down to protecting the taxpayers. That’s my #1 responsibility - is to protect the tax payer.