Mayor Martin Walsh kicked off his re-election bid in Dorchester last weekend, gathering with staff and supporters at the Boston Pizza and Grill before canvassing homes around Uphams Corner on Saturday.
“As we move forward into the campaign, today’s really about listening to people,” he told the dozens packed into the restaurant, adjacent to the historic Strand Theatre.
“I think in the last three years we’ve done some incredible things,” the mayor added, thanking members of his administration for their work in economic development. “Here in Uphams Corner, you know, I kicked my campaign off here, John [Barros, chief of economic development for Boston] lived up the street, and what’s happened here is that a lot of interest has come to Uphams Corner. And that hasn’t happened in the past.”
Investments in the area have been slow since the 1950s, Walsh noted, “but we’re starting to see it now,” referencing the renovated Uphams Corner library branch across the street.
Earlier in the day, the Walsh team had knocked on doors and collected signatures in Mattapan. The mayor encouraged his volunteer surrogates to make note of any public safety or infrastructure issues as they walked — cracked curbs or sidewalks, signage issues and the like — “so we can get them on the list and get them fixed.”
Before heading out to begin his own round of visits to voters’ homes, Walsh weighed in on the recent failed sale of the 16-acre Globe site. People probably look at the several large parcels around Kosciuszko Circle and JFK/UMass with an eye toward working in some kind of traffic solution, Walsh said.
“I think that was part of, when we had the conversation with the stadium — and that‘s the downside of the stadium not going through — is that we were going to have a transportation fix there, and that would have sparked development,” he said. “I think it’ll sell eventually, I just think it’ll take a little time.”
Looking ahead at any future sale or development around Columbia Point, he said, will ultimately need to include a component to ease the transit pressures around that critical intersection. “Not just [the Globe], all of them,” Walsh said. “Bayside; all of the parcels. That’s always been the conversation that we’ve had, it’s always been the understanding that there will be a traffic fix there.”
The national political discussion may also be weighing on residents’ minds, the mayor acknowledged. “There’s a lot of concern about what’s going on in the country right now,” he told the crowd. “People want to do something, and they might want to help us because of what we stand for as a city. If they want to sign up, they can get involved. This is a campaign, obviously, we’re running for re-election, but it’s bigger than that. We’re talking about the country, we‘re talking about moving our city forward.”
On Wednesday, the Walsh campaign announced that it had collected a total of 38,521 signatures to put the incumbent mayor’s name on the September ballot. The deadline to file nomination papers with the city Election Department was May 23.