A little Q&A with Mayor Marty Walsh!
You’re an extremely popular Mayor – were you surprised to be challenged?
Absolutely not. Democracy is the foundation of our system. I look at this election, and every election, as a great opportunity to talk about our values and our progress, in making sure every resident has a good quality of life, every child gets a strong education, every family can find an affordable home in a safe neighborhood, and every worker can find a good-paying job.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your first term?
The one that stands out for me is that we effectively ended chronic veterans homelessness in Boston. These are people who sacrificed for our country but had been suffering out on the streets for a long time. I’ve visited some of those veterans in their new apartments, and life-changing doesn’t begin to describe the impact. In all we’ve housed over 1,100 formerly homeless people. We have a ways to go on the homelessness issue, but we are on the right track.
I’m also very proud that we were able to create Boston’s first citywide plan in over 50 years. Boston was a city without a plan for far too long. I’m even more proud that we did it by asking Bostonians what they wanted, and got 15,000 responses. The result, Imagine Boston 2030, is a roadmap to the future that goes beyond downtown. It’s a citywide plan for all Bostonians, no matter where they come from or what neighborhood they live in, to share in Boston’s success and have a great quality of life.
I’m proud of how we took on our most pressing challenges. We made record annual investments in the Boston Public Schools, and started a 10-year, $1 billion plan to build new school buildings. We responded to a historic housing shortage by building affordable housing at a record pace. We made unprecedented investments in Boston’s parks, so that we now lead the nation in access, with 98% of Boston residents now living within a 10-minute walk of a park.
I’m especially proud of how the Boston Police Department, at a time of national tension, became a leader in building trust with the community. Both violent crime and property crime have come down each year.
In general, I’m proud of how we’ve treated everyone equally. Whether you live in South Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, Beacon Hill, or Back Bay, we all deserve great neighborhoods and a chance to succeed. This is the Boston I believe in and the Boston we’re fighting for. It’s a Boston for all of us. And all means all.
Southie’s bus situation is OUT OF CONTROL. How will you work with the MBTA to mitigate the overcrowding?
I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, and I know getting around in our city isn’t always easy. It’s a huge quality of life issue, and good transit is often the key to opportunity. I’m committed to making Boston’s transportation system more reliable, more accessible, and safer.
The MBTA is run by the state, but we provide a big chunk of the system’s revenue, and we are advocating all the time for Boston’s needs. I’ve called on the state to enact a comprehensive, fully funded plan to move the MBTA into the 21st century, with a focus on smarter bus routes, more dependable trains, and new connections for neighborhoods that aren’t getting a fair deal.
We’re also ensuring long-term improvements ourselves. Our comprehensive transportation plan, GoBoston2030, established the goals of 1, ensuring Boston residents live within 10 minutes of a public transit stop; 2, reducing traffic fatalities until they are entirely eliminated; and 3, cutting Bostonians’ commute times by 10 percent. We have dozens of projects already underway that move us toward those goals.
Thoughts on the Boston Edison Development?
After the South Boston Edison Power Plant site sat dormant for decades, providing little economic activity for South Boston and its residents, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) launched a community-based planning process to determine the best use for the site. Throughout that process, we frequently heard that the site offers tremendous potential to revitalize this area in South Boston.
The current proposal would rehabilitate and redevelop the site over a 10-year period. Over the past several months we have heard the neighborhood’s concerns relative to density and transportation, so in the months ahead the BPDA will be asking the developer to look at the density of this project, as well as solutions to address potential traffic challenges. It is still early in the public process for this project, and I encourage anyone interested in it to attend future public meetings to learn more and offer feedback.
Do you think households should be able to get unlimited resident parking stickers? How do we fix our parking crisis?
Everyone who lives in Southie should have access to a parking pass for residential parking.
I know parking is a challenge in South Boston. We’ve taken steps, with developers, with government agencies, and with city systems, to ease the crunch. Parking is part of the long-term transportation picture addressed by GoBoston 2030. In this plan, we heard from thousands of residents who wanted more options to get around. For this reason, we have created the Drive Boston and car and bike share programs and are continuing to work with city agencies like the Elderly, Disability commissions and the Boston City Council. We recently held a hearing to address the needs of our residents and will continue to work hard to ensure that the residents of South Boston see improvements when it comes to matters of transportation.
We know your administration is very concerned about rising sea levels and climate change – especially with what we are seeing in Houston and Florida. How can we prevent Boston from suffering the same colossal damage if we are hit with such a storm?
As a coastal city, Boston must be a climate champion. Climate change presents a unique threat to the health, safety, and jobs of Bostonians now and in the future. But it’s also an opportunity. We can create good, green jobs and we can save money through energy efficiency. I’ve made climate action a top priority and we have made real progress in making Boston a more resilient city. In the process, Boston has become a national and global leader. We have a cutting-edge Climate Action Plan for saving energy and money. Each year since 2014, Boston has been ranked the #1 city in the country for energy efficiency by the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy. And at the Paris Climate Summit two years ago, we won the international award for community engagement in our Greenovate Boston initiative.
In many ways, the waterfront is the key, and South Boston is a great example of why, from Castle Island all the way to Fort Point Channel. Our waterfront is historically our greatest asset as a city. It needs protecting now and for future generations, not only because it’s such an incredible resource, but because it’s what will protects us from sea level rise. The Climate Ready Boston report shows how rising sea levels and storms are likely to affect Boston, and guides how to prepare for the impact. A resilient waterfront is also central to Imagine Boston 2030, our citywide plan.
Our responsibility is to keep turning these plans into action. Climate change knows no borders — we are working with neighboring cities and towns, and with national and global networks of cities, to address the impacts we face together. It’s a long-term effort. with the ultimate goal to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. If we take the right steps today, the next generation will be able to build on the work that we’ve started.
My first job was as a doughnut finisher at the Dunkin Donuts in Andrew Square . Although the job wasn’t glamorous, it taught me a lot about hard work. I wouldn’t call myself a baker, but I surprised myself with my new skills — something I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t taken this job. My days would start early in the morning, way before our store opened , and you know how early Dunkin Donuts opens. My shift would consist of getting the doughnuts ready for sale, accept shipments, and prepare the doughnuts with fillings, frostings, and decorations. When I go to donut shops now, I often think back to the hours I spent there as a teenager. It’s funny to see how some things change but some things stay the same.
I don’t take my first job experience for granted, because some young people in our city don’t have that opportunity to break into the workforce. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in workforce training and summer youth jobs, so that every young person in this city has a chance at to learn good work habits and new skills. Everyone’s career needs to start somewhere.
Favorite restaurant in Southie?
That’s one question I’m not going to answer. There’s a lot of great restaurants in Southie.
Go to order at Sully’s?
Hot dog with onions and ketchup, and clam strips.
To learn more about Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign visit here.