You may have seen him on social media – Pat Payaso – literally a clown running for Boston City Council at-Large. Formerly Kevin McCrea – a Boston developer and former mayoral candidate, he changed his name to Pat Payaso and transformed into a clown to run for City Council at-Large. (Payaso means “clown” in Spanish.) Out came the faceprint, curly wig and big red nose and Payaso hit the campaign trail complete with oversized shoes. We recently had a little Q&A with Payaso – you can check it out below:
What inspired you to run for City Council as a clown?
12 years ago when I was running for City Council I was building the Bubbles Carwash on Southampton Street. The owner was holding a fundraiser for one of the incumbents who was not very impressive to me. I said to the owner, “Why are you holding a fundraiser for that guy? What do you see in him?” The owner said to me, “Ohhh, Councilor _____________ is a CLOWN! But I get a few of my business friends together, we each give him $500 bucks and if we ever need anything done in the City we just call him up and it gets taken care of.” That when I started to learn about how things really get done. We have a system of government here where whomever is the Mayor says ‘jump’ and the councilors say ‘how high’. We need an independent voice in government who is not afraid to not look and sound like the others, who will not be afraid to stand up and call out the $150 million dollar giveaway the City Council voted on in secret at the end of a December meeting, the pension padding, the tax breaks to the 1%, the lack of objective reason to bring the Olympics or Indy cars to Boston, or to giveaway Yawkey Way to the Red Sox without fair compensation. If I’m not afraid to campaign as a clown, you can be sure I won’t be afraid to call out other injustices to the taxpayers.
When you’re out campaigning, are you always in your makeup?
I have a number of outfits, just as we all do. I have numerous clown outfits, sometimes I’m in face paint, other times I have a mask or just funny glasses and a red nose. Most politicians take themselves very, very seriously and we laugh at them behind their backs. I’m all about efficiency, with me, the citizens can just laugh right in my face and save themselves the time and effort of pretending to be impressed.
From Universal Health Care, to schools, you seem like you really want to shake up the status quo of local government, what are your priority issues you’d like to tackle if elected?
I don’t necessarily want to shake up local government but I do want to make it efficient, honest and transparent. There are many, many dedicated public employees who I believe are not being properly served by leadership. My two biggest priorities by far are advocating for Universal Health Care for all our citizens which impacts us in so many ways from women making decisions about life, health, business, jobs and family depending on their access to health care, to the opioid crisis, to decisions for small businesses like mine, to issues facing the homeless. My second main issue, which has always been a priority for me, are the schools in Boston. I’m the only candidate who has promised to visit every one of the 125 schools in my two years. I want to meet with the parents, the students, the teachers and administration and fight out about their needs and concerns, find out what is going right and what is going wrong. I have also promised to put forth a plan in 1.5 years to eliminate the busing system we have in Boston. We are wasting far too much time, energy, money and resources busing children from one part of the city to another. We need to ensure that all schools have equitable services for the students and that parents have flexibility in choosing schools for their children if their local school is not adequate for their child. This is a long term project but if we are going to address the inequities in our society we need to be bold about acknowledging them and having objective conversations about them. The money we waste, the green house gases we emit, the traffic we cause, the time children waste on buses and the lack of neighborhood cohesion are all negatives in my opinion. If we want to be bold about the future of our city, attracting major corporations, building our infrastructure, attracting new talent, then having a great school system needs to be part of that. I’m particularly excited (as a physics and math graduate) about working with MIT to create a state of the art STEM high school like the Bronx School of Science or the Stuyvesant, both in NYC, to create a pathway to MIT and other great colleges for our youth.
The day to day quality of life issues like parking, poor bus service and density of development, are some of the biggest issues facing South Boston residents, how would you address these concerns?
The MBTA and our infrastructure are major issues and problems for many of our residents. I use the T regularly, mostly the Orange line and the Silver Line. I’ve used public trains and buses around the world and even lived in Hong Kong which has far superior public transportation than we do. Boston should be able to emulate Hong Kong and other modern cities as being simple and quick for all citizens to get anywhere in the city using public transportation. Americans should not tolerate less than the best from our political leadership.We need long range thinking and planning on both development and transportation. One of the local ideas I have is that we need to strongly enforce the traffic laws in the City. Some of the great anachronisms of Boston such as double parking on Broadway in Southie or Hanover in the North End need to be eliminated so that buses and traffic can flow. I think we need to increase ticket costs for these offenses and enforce them as they are truly wasting all of us time and money. I have been on the Silver Line many times when I’ve been delayed because of improper use of bus lanes. I advocate for the elimination of the BRA (BPDA) and getting local control over development and rezoning all of the neighborhoods in the City after getting true citizen input on how they envision their neighborhood. One of the real problems all over the city, but particularly in South Boston is spot zoning and arbitrary zoning which can quickly change the fabric of a neighborhood without citizen input. This is undemocratic and I will work to stop it. I invite people to look at my youtube channel for Pat Payaso,where former Governor Mike Dukakis and I discuss the future of the MBTA and pubic transit in Boston.
Favorite restaurant in Southie?
I have fond memories of Sunday nights in Southie back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s at a bar called O’Leary’s. There was a band that played rebel songs and traditional ballads that we would sing along to until the wee hours of the morning. The food was not something to write about, but the beer was good. Sadly, the bar and me being out on Sunday night until Monday morning are both long gone! As a son of Fitzgerald’s and Murphy’s, I grew up with corned beef and cabbage so I hardly recognize the culinary scene in Southie now. However, one of my old friends from Southie took me to Capo and I thought it was excellent.
Go to order at Sully’s?
Of course, I love Sullivan’s which I’ve been going to since I was a kid and I always get fried clams with bellies!
If elected, will you still dress up as a clown?
Once elected, I will have my clown horn on my desk at all the City Council meetings on Wednesday’s to toot loudly if any funny business with the citizens money starts happening. I will dress like a clown if needed, especially if I get wind of anything nefarious going on like the vote to giveaway $150 million dollars of our money in secret or extensions of BRA powers. But in general I will wear suits as appropriate to the seriousness of the business of making Boston an honest, transparent city with great affordable healthcare, excellent schools and a plan for the future. I invite people to read my concrete proposals and ideas here.
The general election day is Tuesday, November 7th. Polls are open from 7am-8pm. You’ll be voting for District 2 City Council, City Council At-Large and Mayor of Boston.