Councillor Baker on Walsh: It's farewell, not goodbye

Councillor Baker, left, watched as Mayor Walsh signed a city ordinance in 2015.

Marty Walsh has been building relationships for 25 years in and around elected office. He understands the value of leadership and communication more than any elected official I have ever met. And he genuinely cares about you, the individual.

You could feel that when he shook your hand (pre-pandemic), looked you directly in the eye, and opened his ears to the needs of the community. He will apply that “building bridges” philosophy as part of one of the most inclusive and diverse presidential cabinets in US history.

He will be a star as he assists President Biden and Vice President Harris as they position this country onto the right trajectory— a direction leading to a return of values-based leadership and ethics-based government. He will be forward-leaning and transparent and he will serve loyally as one of the hardest-working people in Washington.

And back in Dorchester, everyone will still have his cell phone number.

Marty and I attended St. Margaret’s grammar school together and we have been in each other’s orbit ever since. One of the greatest joys of this friendship has been witnessing Marty lead this amazing city as its mayor for the past seven years.

Working with us on the City Council, Marty has been a visionary and steadfast in his persistence to advance the city of Boston to greater heights— with smarter budgets, better schools, and safer streets.

While the majority of the councillors bowed to advocates, their specific agendas, and legislating with a cancel-culture mindset, Marty stayed true to his principles; he knew he could not move the city forward without building relationships, without collaborating with others who had opposing views, and, just as importantly, without maintaining civility in our political interactions.

And that approach is just one way in which Marty achieved, making a positive difference in today’s politics and in this city.

Mayor Walsh’s lists of accomplishments and policy achievements are well-noted. I believe one of the lasting impacts on our city that reflect Marty’s earnest work and political acumen are his actions with police reform and navigating one of this country’s most populous cities through the deadliest pandemic in history.

His accomplishments and policy achievements have been well noted. I believe that the lasting impacts on our city that will reflect Marty’s earnest work and political acumen will be his actions with police reform and his navigation of the well-being of the city he governed through one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

I have been very outspoken about supporting Boston Law Enforcement and Black Lives Matter initiatives in our city. Marty Walsh has done the same, delivering results on historic levels. Arrests are down 30 percent since he became mayor.

In his own words: “We have a very strong community policing model. I don’t tolerate bad behavior, but I also respect the hard work that the men and women of the Boston Police Department do every day, and they have not missed a beat as far as going to work every day and keeping people safe.”

Marty has stated: “Back in 2015, when President Obama put together his Task Force on 21st Century Policing, we were part of that. There were lots of recommendations that came out of that police report and we instituted mostly all of them. So, a lot of this work is just putting another layer of confidence, if you will, in public on what we’re doing with our police department.”

In June, the city was besieged at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with widespread protests in reaction to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Marty viewed racism as just as much of a public health crisis as the Covid virus and declared it as such.

While he diverted money away from our police departments, he made a point to emphasize that support for our women and men in police uniform was strong. And it is.

Through a public health crisis, racial unrest, and trying budgetary times, it has taken skilled and experienced leaders to make the hard decisions to keep Boston moving forward.

And Marty made them.

There were myriad challenges in our most recent budget deliberations, but we were able to approve that important piece of legislation during these crucial times. Passing the budget allowed our city to navigate through this public health crisis and support our police to continue to keep our streets safe while understanding the needs and struggles of our fellow citizens.

That is what Marty Walsh has done since Day One – understand, care for, and prioritize our citizens. And he will do the same as President Biden’s Secretary of Labor.

He will be remembered as a mayor who effectively led with a strong constitution to do right by this city and its people. He will leave Boston as one of its most popular mayors, with a 69 percent favorability rating. Good luck in Washington, Marty. Boston’s loss is the country’s gain.

Frank Baker represents District 3 on the Boston City Council.

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