Michael Flaherty Announces Candidacy for Boston City Council
Running for election to one of four At Large seats in 2011
Boston, May 8, 2011: Former City Councilor and 2009 mayoral candidate Michael F. Flaherty today announced that he is a candidate for Boston City Council at Large in 2011. Flaherty was an at large councilor from 2000 to 2010. He did not seek re-election to the council in 2009, instead choosing to give up his seat and challenge Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Flaherty said he intends to apply for nomination papers at the Boston election department on Monday, May 9th, at 11:00 a.m.
"From the time I first worked on a political campaign, to the time I first ran for office, up until this very day, it has always been my desire to serve the public," Flaherty said. "I greatly enjoyed my time on the Boston City Council and believe I made a positive contribution to the city."
An ultimately unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2009 only heightened and sharpened his desire to continue in public office, Flaherty said. "But the decision to run again for an office I held for ten years was not made lightly. The demands of a citywide campaign and time away from my family were factors I had to overcome in deciding to run. But, thanks to the strong support of my family, and the urgings of hundreds of friends and supporters in every neighborhood of the city who have been encouraging me to run, I make this decision with confidence and assuredness that it is the right thing to do."
Flaherty said that dissatisfaction with the direction in which the city is heading was a major factor in his decision to return to the city council. "One thing I learned from my time on the council, and my run for mayor, is that the city and its residents benefit when the mayor and his administration are challenged by the city council," Flaherty said. "The fact is that members of the council are routinely marginalized by the mayor, kept in line by a carrot and stick approach that is counterproductive to spirited and thoughtful political debate. I know this from first-hand experience and I will be the first to admit that, during my early council career, I was part of it. Gradually, however, you come to realize that this situation is unhealthy for the city, its finances and its future."
"I truly love this city and miss serving the needs and concerns of its residents. It pains me that we continue to fail to combat at the core the spikes in gun violence and youth violent crime," Flaherty continued. "Overall statistics swing back and forth, but certain parts of our city have become shooting galleries. Residents of neighborhoods where violent crime is an almost daily occurrence deserve better than to live in fear. We need to do more."
Flaherty said that the most shocking violence in Boston is almost certainly drug related. "We have in this city an epidemic of substance abuse," he said, "particularly among our young people. Alcohol and illegal drug use are decimating children and whole families. From East Boston to Hyde Park, from South Boston to Brighton, no neighborhood has been spared. Yet I see little in the way of a prioritized, comprehensive strategy to rid our city of this scourge," he continued. "I said it before and I will continue to say it: We cannot ask the police to arrest our way out of this problem. We need to make this an issue of the highest priority and we need to do it now."
Flaherty said he and his wife have children in Boston public schools and recognize that the quality of the city’s educational system, perhaps more than any other issue, will determine whether Boston grows and prospers or will face the kind of downturn and decline that has come to characterize so many urban centers in our nation.
"School assignment policy is like a lottery scratch ticket," he said, "but it’s our children’s futures that are being gambled. I want to return to the council and help lead efforts to work with the mayor and the school department to ensure that every child in Boston will have a quality public school education. This is not something we should think of as an opportunity or a privilege. A quality public school education that will put college within reach, and equip our children with the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy, is a basic right, and we must work harder to make it a reality."
Flaherty also pointed to an opaque and unpredictable city development process, stalled projects, and high housing costs as other issues which demand the attention of city government. "A huge crater still sits in the middle of Downtown Crossing, a symbolic hole in the heart of the city. Deals continue to be made without the benefit of full disclosure, with certain favored developers being routinely green-lighted for projects that are often not in the best interests of our neighborhoods. On every important development decision, anyone who disagrees with the current administration is marginalized and vilified," Flaherty said. "Two years ago we were told that things were going to be different. But now that a fifth term is in the bank, it seems to be back to business as usual. Frankly, it’s time for the city council to put some heat on the mayor. It’s what democracy is about."
"I am running for council again not just to challenge the mayor's policies," Flaherty said. "I look forward to working cooperatively with anyone and everyone who has the ultimate best interests of our city at heart and, despite the substantive policy disagreements we have had in the past, I know that includes the mayor. But our city and its residents desperately need in City Hall an alternative voice."
Asked if a council run was merely a precursor to a possible 2013 repeat run for mayor, Flaherty demurred. "I am running for Boston City Council in 2011. Period. I want to be back in City Hall as an active, engaged and independent member of the city council, and at the heart of the debate about how we make sure Boston is a city that works for everyone. That’s why I’m running and that’s all I am focused on right now," he said.
"While other opportunities may present themselves in the future, running for mayor is a huge commitment. It took a great toll on me and my family in 2009. I know I can help make Boston better as a city councilor, however, regardless of who the mayor is."
"If and when the appropriate time comes, I will assess future political options then. But right now, it is my goal to win election to the Boston City Council in November and to get back to work for the people of Boston."
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Michael F. Flaherty is a former at-large member of the Boston City Council, serving five two-year terms beginning in January of 2001. He was elected City Council President by his peers in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. He did not run for re-election in 2009, instead choosing to run for mayor of Boston, challenging incumbent Thomas M. Menino.
Flaherty is a South Boston native and resides there with his family. He and his wife, Laurene Flaherty, have four children. Flaherty turned 42 in May of 2011.
He is a graduate of Boston College High School and Boston College, and earned his law degree from Boston University School of Law.
Prior to being elected to the Boston City Council in 1999, he served as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
Flaherty is an attorney, currently working in the Boston office of the law firm of Adler, Pollock & Sheehan.