Connolly launches mayoral bid outside Brighton school

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Feb. 26, 2013

City Councillor John Connolly, flanked by supporters and his wife Meg, announced his candidacy for Mayor of Boston today in Brighton. Photo courtesy Connolly campaign

Looking to make the city’s school system the focus of his campaign, City Councillor At-Large John Connolly launched his mayoral bid on Tuesday morning outside of a Brighton school. He said he plans a “bottom-up” campaign, with a community organizer’s mindset, similar to President Obama’s campaign for the White House.

In a conversation with reporters on Monday, Connolly said he is ready to “ask every voter I can meet to consider me.” Connolly has spent months building up his campaign kitty and he said last week that he was seriously considering a mayoral bid.

His formal entrance into the race will likely set off a scramble on two fronts: Potential mayoral candidates will face immediate pressure from allies and others to say something about their intentions, as other local politicos, if they haven’t already, will take a look at Connolly’s at-large seat.

Mayor Thomas Menino, first elected to City Hall’s top job in 1993, has not yet publicly declared whether he plans to run for a sixth term. Menino has been recovering from a list of ailments that sent him to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for two months at the end of the year.

When Menino was asked about Connolly’s possible candidacy last week, he told reporters, “No, I have no thoughts about that at all. I’m just doing my job.”

Asked about Menino’s health issues, Connolly said on Monday, “I don’t think it’s relevant. He’s clearly up to the job.”

Connolly added: “I respect him. For me this isn’t really about him.”

Connolly, a former teacher who joined the City Council in 2007 and chairs the Education Committee, said he would focus on the city’s school system. One of his mayoral campaign slogans, he said, will be “Our Future Starts With Our Schools.”

Connolly has used his committee perch to forcefully critique the system. He said his education plans include decentralizing the Boston Public Schools headquarters at Court St., focusing on getting funds into the schools, and lengthening the school day.

Menino, a Hyde Park councillor and acting mayor before he faced off against state Rep. Jim Brett in 1993, has previously seen opposition from city councillors looking to make a move across City Hall’s fifth floor. The list of unsuccessful candidates includes Michael Flaherty, Maura Hennigan and Peggy Davis-Mullen.

Connolly, a West Roxbury resident, said he has studied the previous campaigns, and looked at the Obama campaign “the most.”

“Every campaign is different,” he said, and his effort will be “very unconventional.” Connolly pledged a “massive canvassing effort.”

“It’s not going to resemble machine politics,” he said.

Updated on Feb. 26 with information about his announcement.