Ross scores Ward 10 nod at mayoral forum

September 6, 2013
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Reckoning day is almost upon the 12 Boston mayoral candidates, as the preliminary election that will narrow the field to two candidates is slated for Sept. 24.

The majority of the candidates gathered for a Ward 10 Democratic Committee forum on Aug. 27 at Mission Park, where they gave five-minute speeches. The committee endorsed City Councilor Mike Ross, who lives in and represents Mission Hill, for mayor after the forum. Ward 10 covers most of Mission Hill.

The other mayoral candidates are City Councilors Felix Arroyo, John Connolly, Rob Consalvo and Charles Yancey; Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director John Barros; former police officer and co-founder of TOUCH 106.1 FM Charles Clemons; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley; former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie; Codman Square Health Center founder Bill Walczak; state Rep. Martin Walsh; and Roxbury resident David Wyatt.

About 60 people attended the Aug. 27 forum, where they heard from most of the mayoral candidates. Barros and Consalvo were unable to attend, while Wyatt is the lone Republican candidate and could not attend the Democratic forum. Attendees listened to speeches that the candidates have finely tuned over several months of campaigning.

Arroyo talked about his “decade of experience” as a city councilor and community organizer. He said as a community organizer, he was able to get janitors a pay increase from $8 to $16 per hour. Arroyo also discussed his hard beginnings, growing up in a home in Hyde Park where water would have to be boiled on a stovetop for a hot bath.

Yancey discussed his lengthy tenure as a city councilor, saying he helped get a police station and two community centers built in his district. He said his has a “nagging suspicion” that the city can have the best school system in the country.

“No one has my experience. I have 30 years of experience,” Yancey said about his time as a city councilor.

Clemons mentioned that he is the only mayoral candidate to have “put a badge on” as a Boston police officer and said, “I always put my community first.” He stressed family values, saying that “when you strengthen the family, you strengthen the community.”

Richie focused on what she said was her strong work ethic and said she would have an “open-door policy” as mayor, inviting people to “sit at the table.” She also talked about working with former state Rep. Kevin Fitzgerald, who represented Mission Hill when she was the director of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

“Public service is important. So is collaboration,” she said.

Walczak discussed his attachment to Codman Square in Dorchester, where he moved when he was 18. He talked about founding the Codman Square Health Center and co-founding two schools in the area. He said he has a “broad background” and has the ability to run the City because of his experience as an executive.

Conley noted he has a “long connection” with Mission Hill, as his wife grew up in the area. He talked about his experience as district attorney and a city councilor, where he chaired the Public Safety Committee.

“Public safety is the foundation in which all great cities all built. I’m the only candidate with public safety experience,” he said.

Ross said leadership is “about standing up for what you believe in.” He pointed to the City’s negotiations with the firefighters’ union several years ago. He said he was the lone city councilor to stand up and say the City couldn’t afford a contract that would have closed three libraries and lay off hundreds of City workers. He also talked about extending the school day and streamlining the City permitting process.

Connolly joked about how he and Conley have similar last names, leading some people to say voters might be confused. He said voters are too smart for that. He talked about strengthening the middle class; connecting residents from City neighborhoods to jobs downtown and in the Innovation District; and improving the school system with a bottom-up approach.

Walsh talked about growing up on Taft Street in Dorchester where he learned about family values. He discussed being a construction laborer and union official before becoming a state representative at the State House, where he said spends his days helping people. He said he wants to bring jobs to the city and increase its housing supply.

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