Mayoral candidates respond to Reporter survey

Candidates for mayor are shown during a candidate's forum on Youth Jobs held on Aug. 13 in Boston. Photo by Chris Lovett

Nine of the twelve mayoral candidates have weighed in on a host of topics – from gun violence to the names of their role models – that were included in a questionnaire they received from the Dorchester Reporter. They offer varied and sometimes lengthy responses as to how they would deal with the key issues facing the city, and a new administration.

The questions and answers will be taken up specifically during the month leading to the Sept. 24 preliminary balloting and have been published in full this week on the Reporter’s website, dotnews.com.

With respect to gun control, Bill Walczak, co-founder of the Codman Square Health Center, said there are long-term and short-term approaches, writing: “The short-term approach is to reassemble the partnership that worked in the 1990s, bringing together police and other law enforcement representatives with representatives from schools, churches, human service, health care and other nonprofit organizations, to identify families in crisis and do crisis intervention, helping families in crisis avoid crime. The long-term solution is through providing opportunity and hope to our children. A better education with opportunity for having a career will lead to a more hopeful group of young adults.”

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, in an expansive response, pointed to his creation of a “gun court” that has speeded up the prosecution of gun cases and increased the conviction rate to 90 percent and to legislation he has filed with state Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) that would mandate micro-stamping on guns and require insurance coverage for gun owners. Conley has also pushed for an update of the state’s wiretap laws, which have been untouched since the 1960s. “Additionally,” he wrote, “I have advocated for the deployment of publicly owned and operated closed circuit television cameras at major public events and in neighborhood hot spots for the purpose of deterring and solving the most serious violent crimes.”

State Rep. Marty Walsh, who was elected to the Legislature in 1997, said collaboration between city agencies and community groups is “key.” He pledged to convene a discussion group on gang violence on his first day as mayor and call for “stepped-up” enforcement of illegal gun trafficking.

The former head of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, John Barros, said he would create a “Community Response Authority that merges the work of public and nonprofit human service agencies, public health agencies, law enforcement and community leaders to improve crime prevention and provide neighborhoods with the coordinated support they need to deal with gun violence and increase safety.”

City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo said he would continue Mayor Thomas Menino’s gun control efforts, while District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey listed four ways: solving past homicides, hiring outreach workers, increasing community policing, and initiating gun buyback programs.

District 8 City Councillor Michael Ross, who chairs the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he would use the “force of ideas” instead of the “idea of force,” adding, “If we’re truly going to reduce youth violence in the long term, we need to provide all of our young people with options and opportunities to succeed in our city. That’s where my approach starts.”

Former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie said the United States is a “nation that reveres guns and I’ll join the ranks of mayors who are trying to change that.” She said she would also work with federal and state officials to “stem the flow of guns onto our streets,” and like Walczak, she referenced the 1990s, when crime went down due to collaboration between clergy and law enforcement officials. “Together we can design and implement a strategy that would include school and after-school based intervention/prevention programs, enhanced probation services for those who are court involved, gang intervention programs, and mental health services for Boston families,” she wrote.

City Councillor At-Large John Connolly pledged to recruit new officers from every Boston neighborhood, “so that our police force truly reflects the city.” He added that he would appoint a liaison for re-entry services to coordinate programs for offenders who are returning to the neighborhoods. “Access to education, employment training and jobs, and mental health and substance abuse services can help offenders to create stable lives off the streets,” Connolly wrote. “I will work with our private employers, city agencies, and non-profits to expand our youth summer job opportunities into year-round programs.”

In the survey, the candidates offered up a wide range of political role models. Barros listed the late US Sen. Edward Kennedy, President Obama, and Abraham Lincoln, while Arroyo named his father, former City Councillor At-Large Felix D. Arroyo. “I have not only inherited my father’s values, but also a commitment to community and working to ensure others have an opportunity to succeed like my family has in Boston,” he wrote.

Golar Richie also listed her father, who passed away last week in New York at the age of 84. “When I look back on my own 20-year career in politics and government, I know that I have followed in my dad’s footsteps in many ways; and I hold firm to the perspective he had, that ‘a life well-lived is a life of service,’” she wrote. She also mentioned Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president in 1972, and state Reps. Byron Rushing and Gloria Fox.

For Yancey, role models include Chisholm, former School Committee head John D. O’Bryant, and former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Walczak said his role models were Nelson Mandela, Franklin Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin, a “founder of the nonprofit sector in America.” Walsh cited the late Congressman Joseph Moakley, calling him a “champion in areas important to me, like housing, health care, and elderly and veterans services.” Ross pointed to the late Mayor Kevin White “for his vision” and Mayor Menino “for his heart.”

Connolly also pointed to White and President Obama, as well as John F. Kennedy, who “reflected a generational shift in leadership in the United States. The symbolism of the first Catholic president was powerful, and he was all my grandmothers ever talked about.”

Conley listed two presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. Truman, Conley said, “was underestimated by many around him, but he understood his responsibilities clearly and carried them out to the best of his ability. He made difficult decisions that were unpopular at the time, but that history has deemed both wise and just.”

Two candidates, District 5 Councillor Rob Consalvo and TOUCH 106.1 FM co-founder Charles Clemons, did not respond to the survey, which was sent to 11 candidates, before the paper went to press this week. The twelfth candidate, David James Wyatt, proved unreachable; he is widely considered as a long-shot on the ballot.

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