The importance of being Boston's mayor

I always get excited when there is a contested mayoral election in Boston. It stems from when I was young boy and John Collins defeated John Powers in 1959. Everybody thought that Powers would win, but they all voted for Collins.

At Boston Latin School, I wrote an essay in 1963 about the importance of reelecting Collins over City Councillor Gabriel Piemonte, with whom I later served.

I was a big fan of Kevin White in the 1967 election, thinking it was very important that he defeat Louise Day Hicks with whom I also later sat on the City Council where she and I actually got along quite nicely.

By then, of course, I was involved in my own campaigns and all the ones subsequent.

This year’s election is a very important one. There is much at stake in the city. We have had decades of financial stability. Our bond rating is AAA. Every budget has been balanced for 30+ years. We are no longer in the same category as Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis. Corruption at the municipal level has been minimal, certainly compared to years gone by.

There are many of us in Boston who have worked very hard to improve our city and to maintain its positive status in the eyes of the financial and political worlds. It is important that those of us who are citizens of the city ask difficult questions of the candidates so that we know where they stand on important issues.

Being mayor of Boston is like being the CEO of a large corporation with a $3 billion + operating budget. The job requires extraordinary patience and basically mandates that one assemble a first-class team rather than reward important positions to those who have been campaign workers and those who may have worked for various vocal interest groups.

I was in politics when there were many people on the City Council and elsewhere who played to the crowd. In that case, it was ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights), the leading group in the antibusing movement. Today’s candidates should not play to the crowds any more than I did not play to the crowds in the 1970s.

The city survived those difficult years and very difficult financial straits because Kevin White assembled a team of bright young men and women who made ends meet and maintained our bond rating even in difficult times. He made the tough decisions and never looked back.

Well-meaning public officials who have never studied our past and may not understand the grave challenges we face today threaten our viability as a world class city in the future, just as did Dapper O’Neil and Pixie Palladino in the 1970s.

Lawrence DiCara is a former Boston City Councillor and a native of Dorchester.

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