Meet Boston’s Next Mayor: Marty Walsh

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Posted January 6, 2014 by Aimee Ortiz in Business
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In November, Marty Walsh won a historic election and secured himself a spot in history as Boston’s first new mayor in two decades.

So, who is the man who plans on leading Boston for at least the next four years?

Let’s start with the basics: Born Martin J. Walsh, he’s been involved in politics since 1997 when he became a representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. A longtime labor leader, Walsh joined the Laborers Local 223 at age 21 and remains its president to this day.

This Boston-bred politician has big plans for the city. Walsh’s visions for Boston, as per his election campaign promises, include making the city a 24-hour hotspot, with transportation running late into the night (i.e., what all of us have always hoped for!).

But what about Downtown Boston? What plans does the mayor-elect have for our little corner of the world? Well, for one, Marty Walsh wants to target Downtown with the same type of energy that’s on the South Boston Waterfront. Aiming to drive businesses and ease accessibility, Walsh has proposed a plan to sell City Hall Plaza and relocate City Hall to the Downtown area.

“The 50-year-old Government Center Urban Renewal Plan is widely credited with the emergence of modern Boston. While many discussions in recent years have concentrated on relocating City Hall, the opportunity exists to discuss a plan that instead drives economic growth,” said Walsh in an interview. “A 21st century economy has emerged, and the new mayor must refocus the development to the core economic engine of the city, the downtown. This area must evolve from a 9-5 weekday government-dependent culture, to a culture economically driven to add value 24/7 to surrounding businesses and neighborhoods.”

Additionally, he wants to grow Boston, to foster it as a place for creativity that welcomes young individuals. Walsh has called for the organization of neighborhood summits and “little city halls” as a means to further involve members of the community.

Marty Walsh Supporters

Supporters rally outside the Communities of Color Mayoral Forum to support Marty Walsh. Photo courtesy of WEBN-TV

And luckily for Walsh, the people of Boston share his vision for a more modern city. “I would like to see a rejuvenated Boston,” says 25-year-old Hector Omar Oseguera, Jr. “To accomplish that, Walsh should look to the future by investing in Boston’s public schools and day cares. High-quality schools and day cares for children would be a concrete step toward giving Boston a brighter tomorrow.”

Oseguera, a student at the New England School of Law and Bostonian for the last six years, says that he tends to follow political campaign and regularly votes, but didn’t this time around as he didn’t feel informed and “couldn’t find real grounds to prefer one candidate over another.” He does believe that Walsh will have to work hard to carve out his own legacy in Boston after Menino leaves.

“I liked Mayor Menino. He had a lot of populist appeal in Boston. I think Walsh had big shoes to fill, and I don’t want to say he will definitely be better, but Walsh certainly seems to have a lot of support and the type of appeal that Bostonians look for.”

Although Oseguera may not have voted for Walsh, the mayor-elect’s appeal has proven promising for support.

However, not everything is as rosy as it seems for Walsh. Facing the massive inequalities between some of Boston’s neighborhoods, the mayor-elect will have to work hard to unite this city.

Whereas Walsh won precincts like Roxbury, South Boston, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain, John Connolly won the neighborhoods of the Back Bay, the South End, and Downtown. Walsh will have his work cut out in to trying to bring the city together.

“Boston has incredible potential with the number of colleges and universities in such a small city. There are thousands of new people coming here every year with fresh eyes and a new set of goals,” says 25-year-old ABA Therapist and Walsh supporter, Kacie Kirkpatrick. “Walsh needs to utilize these new people, and create more jobs and career opportunities to support this influx. This city is full of rich tradition; however finding a way celebrate the young people should be just as important.”

Kirkpartick’s been in Boston for the past seven years. Starting as a freshman at Suffolk University and going on to gain her Master’s from Emerson College, Kirkpatrick considers Downtown Boston as the place where she flourished and grew into her own. Now working for the public school system and as freelance artist, she’s excited to see the changes Walsh will bring.

“What I know and have read about Walsh I really like. He has spoken about an artists initiative; which means he believes in the artist communities of Boston and wants to find a way to jumpstart that world,” says Kirkpatrick. “He has also spoken about his hopes for the Boston Public School system, which seem very possible and positive. These two things are very important to me and the work I do.”

And when it comes to Downtown, Kirkpatrick believes that one of the best things Walsh could do for the district is to run later hours, “having a safe way to get in and out of the city without the use of an expensive cab would be a really positive change.”

So, will Walsh be able to bring the city together and fill the shoes that Menino’s leaving behind? The city will have to wait until January to find out, but for now, Marty Walsh has one heck of a job to prepare for.

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