By Marty Walsh
I’m lucky to call Boston home. My parents immigrated here with little more than their hope for a better life. They raised me in Dorchester, where I learned the value of hard work, second chances, and standing up for what you believe in, no matter what.
And this city made my dream come true.
As mayor, I have fought every day to make Boston a city where everyone can make their dreams come true. Over the last four years, we’ve made a lot of progress together – improving our schools, building more affordable homes, creating good jobs, making communities safer. Boston is stronger now than it was four years ago, but we’re not done. That’s why I am running for reelection, so that we can keep working on being a city that works for all of us.
It starts in our schools: We increased the Boston Public Schools budget every year, for a total of $154 million in new resources. We created 725 new, high-quality pre-kindergarten seats, to give more four-year-olds the strong start they need. We added more learning time to the school day for 23,000 students. We built Boston’s first new high school in 22 years, the cutting-edge Dearborn 6-12 STEM Academy. We made community college tuition-free for BPS graduates from low-income families so that more Bostonians than ever can go to college.
The results are clear: Our schools are the best they’ve ever been. We now have 46 schools ranked among the highest-performing in the state. Our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. And we’re not done yet. We have a plan to bring high-quality pre-kindergarten to every child in Boston. And we’ve only just begun our 10-year, $1 billion BuildBPS program to modernize school buildings for 21st-century learning.
We have also tackled the housing crisis head on. In 2014, I unveiled a plan to add 53,000 units of housing by 2030, including thousands of new homes for low-income families, middle-class families, and seniors. With 22,000 units already either built or in construction, we are ahead of pace to meet those goals, and it’s having the right effect: Rents in existing housing stock are stabilizing.
All told, we’ve committed over $100 million and hundreds of city-owned lots to affordable housing, more than ever before. At the same time, we have provided permanent housing for 1,200 formerly homeless people, and we have ended chronic veterans’ homelessness in our city. That’s something I’m very proud of.
I know that housing demand is still pushing costs out of reach for too many families, so we’re doing more. We’re enacting new protections for tenants and we are helping people stay in their homes with a new Office of Housing Stability. And we led the fight for the Community Preservation Act, which will bring millions of dollars more each year to affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation. Together, we are going to make sure Boston can be home for all of us.
I’ve always believed that a good paying job is the foundation of the American Dream. That’s why I’ve fought to build a strong economy that works for everyone. We’ve added 60,000 jobs, and with companies like G.E., Lego Education, and Reebok, we have become a headquarters city again.
We directed $11 million to job training for thousands of low-income Boston residents; we got hundreds more into apprenticeships that lead to good careers; and we invested $5.2 million in youth jobs.
Further, we are expanding support for neighborhood entrepreneurs with the first citywide Small Business Plan. We’ve also put job training at the core of our second-chance programs, like Operation Exit, for court-involved young adults. There’s much more to come. My whole life, I’ve stood with working people, and I always will.
In these uncertain times, being mayor of this great city means protecting Bostonians from reckless decisions in Washington. I am the son of two proud Boston immigrants, and I know that immigrant families make this city great. I will always stand up for Boston’s people and Boston’s values, no matter what.
These are just a few of the big challenges we’ve taken on. Whether it is our work fighting climate change, our investments in arts and culture, our efforts to become a more bike-friendly city, or our commitments to our seniors, Boston has shown that in the absence of federal leadership, mayors can lead - and that is just what we are doing.
I’m very proud of all we have accomplished in our city in the last four years. Our schools are better, we’re building affordable housing, we’re creating jobs and job training, and we’re making our city safer. But there is more work to do. So I invite you to join me as we recommit ourselves, together, to this work in every school, neighborhood, and workplace. Over the next four years, we’re going to keep fighting to make sure Boston is truly a city for all of us.
Marty Walsh is the mayor of Boston.