Mayor-elect Walsh, Sen. Warren discuss agendas after meeting in Boston

Matt Murphy, State House News Service
Dec. 5, 2013

Dogged by continuing speculation about possible White House ambitions, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday issued her latest denial about running for president, while Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh said he could use Warren's help where she is in the Senate to secure more federal funding for housing.

Walsh met with Warren for over 45 minutes on Wednesday at Walsh's transition headquarters in downtown Boston, after which Warren batted away questions about her possible presidential ambitions and Walsh pledged to move forward from contentious city negotiations with the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.

The two Democrats said they discussed a "long list" of issues important to the city of Boston and how they could work together over the next four years.

Citing a $22 million cut in federal funding to the Boston Housing Authority last year, Walsh said he was "hopeful" to get more money from Washington.

"This year, they're looking at another cut, and they can't sustain that cut and that cut can't be made up by the city budget because of the way it's laid out so we talked about issues like this, moving the budgets forward," Walsh said.

Having already heard the news that the City Council unanimously on Wednesday afternoon approved an arbitration award for 25.4 percent raises over six years for Boston police officers, Walsh said he would support the vote. During the mayoral campaign, Walsh said his union background would help him in negotiations like these to avoid arbitration, and he called for both sides to return to the table, which did not happen.

"I felt the award was too high and if I had the opportunity to negotiate the contract I certainly would have looked to have negotiated a lesser of a contract, as far as the money. The police officers in this city work hard. They've gone four-and-a-half years without a contract and the City Council today, by a twelve to nothing vote, approved the fact that they deserve the arbitration award and I agree with that vote today because as the mayor of Boston we're going to fund that contract and we'll deal with it when the budget's done," Walsh said.

When Walsh enters City Hall in January, he will have negotiations on three additional police contracts and a firefighter's union contract looming. "I don't want to go back and second guess anybody, but I look forward to negotiating public employee contracts when I take over as mayor," he said.

Meanwhile, Warren faced another barrage of questions about the possibility that she might seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, despite her repeated past denials.

"I am not running for president and I plan to serve out my term," Warren said. When pressed whether those plans could change or if she would "pledge" to serve in the Senate through at least 2018, Warren said, "I pledge to serve out my term."

It's certainly not the first denial Warren has given to the prospects of her running for president in 2016, and yet speculation has persisted in the national media as many groups in the left-wing of the Democratic Party have held her out as a leader for progressive causes.

"I am not running for president. I am working as hard as I can to be the best possible senator that I can be and to fight for the things that I promised during my campaign that I would fight for. I'm fighting for bank accountability, I'm fighting hard to help rebuild America's middle class, and I'm glad to see any possible energy put behind those fights," Warren said.

She continued, "This isn't about me. This is about the changes we need to make in America," Warren said.

The state's senior senator expressed frustration with Congress and, in particular, Republican leadership in the House who she blamed for refusing to allow members to vote on immigration reform or negotiate a budget with Senate Democrats.

"Is there a problem in Washington? You bet there is. But that's because the Republicans have decided to govern by making sure nothing happens," she said.

Using the minimum wage as an example, Warren said Congress needs to get "in line with where the American people are." "We need to raise the minimum wage. We need to do it here in Massachusetts and we need to do it all across the country. Families who work full-time should not live in poverty," Warren said.

Walsh has also said he supports raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts. Before recessing for the year, the state Senate voted to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2016, and tie future increases to inflation.

Walsh said he has not finalized any plans for his January inaugural, or made a decision on who will be his chief of staff. He did tell Warren that he would be willing, if it could be helpful, to join others mayors from around the country to go to Washington to press Congress on issues important to cities, including gun control.

After Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg forged a close partnership on the issue of gun violence during their years in office, Walsh said he would like to step in and take up that cause.

"Since Marathon Monday, I believe there's over 161 or 162 documented shootings in the city of Boston, so we need to make sure we make that a top priority," Walsh said.

The Dorchester Democrat, however, took his opportunity to also rule out a run for president in three years, joking, "When we met today I thought I was going to be asked to be the senators running mate…I will not run for president."