Ed Flynn remembers answering the house phone as a kid growing up in South Boston when constituents would call for his father. He and his siblings knew who to call to get folks problems solved, and when they didn’t, they scribbled a note and left it for their father, Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, who served as the city’s executive from 1983 to 1993.
When the phone rings now, it’s Flynn’s own future constituents on the line. And he is working to understand all the issues that face his district before he is officially sworn in on New Year’s Day.
The newly elected District 2 city councillor said that he has tried to maintain the same pace of attending community events and scheduling meetings since winning the municipal election in November. Flynn acknowledges that he does not have all the answers to the problems that face the city he loves and his district, particularly in South Boston, a neighborhood that has seen dramatic change since the days of his father’s administration.
For the past eight years, Flynn has worked as a probation officer for the Suffolk Superior Court. The experience taught Flynn — who is also a US Navy veteran—that, “You can’t arrest your way out of a problem,” he said, pointing specifically to the region’s opioid crisis.
Often faced with difficult decisions as a probation officer Flynn said, “It was a balance, and you don’t get any satisfaction for sending anyone to prison again [for breaking parole and relapsing].”
“It could be frustrating, but you just try to treat everyone fairly and with respect,” Flynn said. “Probation officers serve a vital role in the criminal justice system, and I’ll try to continue doing work in that field as councillor,” he said.
Flynn would like to see the city combat the opioid crisis with “compassionate care and treatment” such as 30-day detox programs, recovery and reentry services, as well as continued counseling, he said.
Flynn said that he enjoyed his time as a probation officer and found the work rewarding. But, when District 2 City Councillor Bill Linehan chose not to seek reelection, he decided to run for office again.
Flynn ran for the at-large city council seat in 2005 and lost. In the spring of 2007 he threw his hat in the ring again in a special election for the District 2 seat, which at the time included parts of Dorchester. Flynn came in third out of the seven on the primary ballot. Linehan ultimately won that seat. In October, Linehan publicly backed Flynn after officially resigning his seat.
Flynn handily won the preliminary election in September and outpaced second-place finisher Michael Kelley by 508 votes in this month’s final run-off.
Twenty-five years in the US Navy, both in active duty and in the reserves, has been a formative experience for Flynn. He plans to lean heavily on his military background by advocating for disabled veterans in the city. Flynn said that he plans to continue helping returning veterans find housing and employment.
Flynn is happy to see younger veterans taking a leadership role “to ensure that South Boston is a welcoming community for all,” particularly with the annual St.Patrick’s Day parade, which has caused controversy over inclusion from LGBT veterans groups in the past.
As a parent of two school-aged children, one at the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown and the other at Mt. Alvernia High School, Flynn said that he knows how important it is that all children in the city have access to a high-quality education, especially students with special needs.
Flynn hesitated to define what a successful first term, which is only two years, on the city council would look like for him.
“I don’t have all the answers, and I’m also not going to promise anyone anything.” Flynn said.
“No one has all the answers, but I think it’s important to learn from other people,” he said.
He is currently working to put together a city council staff to best serve the needs of his constituents in his district which includes, South Boston, Chinatown and the South End.
“That’s the most important work that you can do,” he said.