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In mayor's race: Status quo vs. shaking things up

At a forum tonight, Mayor Marty Walsh said he would spend the next four years building on what he said were the successes of his first term, while challenger and City Councilor Tito Jackson said he would take more aggressive steps to make Boston a better place.

Under the rules agreed to by the two for he forum- sponsored by the Ward 11 and Ward 19 Democratic committees at English High School - Walsh spoke for about a half hour then left before Jackson took the stage.

Public schools

Walsh said BPS has more good-scoring schools than ever before, has the highest graduation rate in decades, and has an $1-billion plan to overhaul school buildings. But he said more is needed: The system currently has 22 different types of school days, making it difficult to efficiently manage transportation and causing issues for students who might have to move around too many schools in their time in BPS. He would shrink that and consolidate schools where possible. The 72% graduation rate still isn't good enough, and more parents need to be encouraged to get involved with their kids' schools. And there are probably principals out there who aren't doing a good job and need to be replaced more quickly.

Jackson says he would bring back an elected school committee and would "fully fund" schools he said BPS is now shortchanging; he said he would ensure every elementary school had a library and librarian, a school nurse, music and art programs and computer education starting in kindergarten.

He added he would fight efforts to increase the number of charter-school seats in Boston.

Getting non-profit land owners to do more

Walsh said the city is bringing in more money from "payments in lieu of taxes" than five years ago. Said increasing what universities and other non-profits do is not necessarily making them pay more in cash, but in increasing "in kind" contributions, such as scholarships, building more on-campus housing and partnerships with local schools.

Jackson would tie city approval of institutional development plans to their PILOT payments and would conduct annual audits of the in-kind payments to see if the organizations are doing what they said they would. He pointed to Northeatern University as an institution he'd pay close attention to, both because it is rapidly gentrifying lower Roxbury and because it pays little more than a tenth of what BU does despite having a similar amount of land. He would also call on the institutions to commit to buying a certain percentage of their needs from local businesses.

Increasing affordable housing units

Walsh said his original goal of at least 8,000 new affordable units is going to be met, but agreed the city has to do more to keep families from being priced out of the city, as he said is happening in growing parts of the city. He said that payments from downtown developers and the new Community Preservation Act surcharge on homeowners could mean $50 million to $60 million a year for the next five years to help build affordable housing.

Jackson would dismantle the BPDA and replace it with a professional planning agency. He said he would increase the minimum number of affordable units in new developments from the current 13% to 25%. And any developers given city land for their projects would have to set aside at least two-thirds of the units for low- and moderate-income residents.

Economic development, especially not leaving some people behind

Walsh said that as valuable as large new employers as GE are, small busineeses are the "bread and butter" of Boston. He tied the fight against Washington's loathing of immigrants to this, saying so many Boston businesses are set up by immigrants. He said he would work to bring 21st-century manunfacturing back to Boston. "Things are made today," he said. "Everything we touch is made."

Jackson said he'd stop large tax breaks to large companies. If they want to move to Boston, that's great, but the city should be using its money to help local small businesses grow. "What [GE and Amazon] don't need is our tax money - and they don't need a helipad, either," he said. He said the city, which spends $2 billion a year, should make a bigger point of buying from locally owned businesses, especially those run by minorities and women. He would seek to increase the local minimum wage to $15 an hour.

He added that Boston needs to have an honest discussion about race.


Both rejected the hatred coming out of Washington and said immigrants are valuable members of the community. Walsh repeated his pledge to let immigrants facing deportation stay in his office if necessary; Jackson says he would put his body on the line to protect them. Jackson came up with the idea of a legal defense fund for immigrants; Walsh helped put the fund together.



The establishment is corrupt and has all of the power.

Voting closed 9

The establishment is us.

People love these mayors. Walsh can be mayor as long as he chooses to run. Progressivism here is a phony Whole Foods movement, an identity, lots of talk but no risks, because to risk is to lose. Tito is not running for mayor, he may get into Congress eventually where he can be another harmless loudmouth like Elizabeth Warren.

Voting closed 19

I always supported Walsh but the cronyism is the good ole boys gang. He is a disappointment

Voting closed 37

You are missing the self aware gene.

Voting closed 6

Tito is talking to the people but out of touch with the future. Big cities need companies that hire lots of people. The mom and pop shops will evolve, but they’ll be fine. Local coffee shops and bookstores do just fine when the people in they’re community can afford to frequent them. Amazon, known for over paying but working you into the ground may not be the best company, but that doesn’t mean the whole idea is terrible.

Scauma (not logged in)

Voting closed 1

It's a shame the mayor refused to debate prior to the preliminary election. We could have got some good back and forth between him and Robert Cappucci on the issue of illegal immigration.

Voting closed 19

Yes, it would have been great to hear Marty tell a racist to STFU. If he had only debated him.

The 3,785 people who voted for him are a real and true representative of the electorate, aren't they?

Voting closed 10

He was on the ballot. Candidates on the ballot deserve a debate.

Voting closed 31

Jackson says he would bring back an elected school committee and would "fully fund" schools he said BPS is now shortchanging; he said he would ensure every elementary school had a library and librarian, a school nurse, music and art programs and computer education starting in kindergarten.

How would Jackson pay for this?

Voting closed 25

Tito will grab all those pie in the sky ideas he keeps going on about and monetize them. That's how. It's simple.

You sell the pies ahead of time and then tell everyone you ran out of pies to sell after you get elected. It is almost Trumpian in its model.

Voting closed 3

I know the Conley used to have a library but I'm not seeing where he's going to add a library to the Bates without eliminating a classroom. The art and science teachers already share a broom closet for an office as it is.

I have no idea how the city will ever address the cramped size of the Roslindale schools. Maybe they can beat the charter school to the punch and plan for a new K-8 school at the Clay Auto site and then you'll have enough capacity to slowly cycle around and close down the other schools for a total renovation one at a time while adding more classroom space, ADA compliance, etc... This would be like a 20 year process though which is so, so far beyond the planning capacity or interest level of Walsh or Jackson.

Voting closed 18

With so much ignorance, intolerance and dysfunction coming out of the white house its nice to see rational debate coming from politicians who seem to understand the issues and care about the average person they are paid to represent. The bar has been lowered but at least these two aren't under it.

Northeastern needs to be publicly shamed more for how cheap they are. Churches should be kicking in more too. No more free rides.

Voting closed 27

Tito unfortunately has taken on a NIMBY tone in order to differentiate himself from Walsh. I like his idea on pushing developers utilizing city-owned land, but a 25% set aside for 'affordable housing' in private developments will effectively stop most new residential construction. The costs of building here are simply too high for a private developer to take on unless we're allowing very tall buildings to maximize market-rate units to recoup the loss on the affordable units and building costs. And Tito and others don't want tall buildings as it is. Look at Plan JP/Rox on Washington St. The city, under extreme pressure from completely unrealistic advocates, caved to demands and is zoning it for a 36% 'affordable housing' set-aside. Projects there in the pipeline are now being halted and nothing new is being proposed because they made it unprofitable to build. The net result is less new housing which only drives up existing housing costs and furthers the very displacement that Tito allegedly wants to stop.

Voting closed 8