Boston is in many ways a resounding success story. Home to world-class resources, including our colleges, universities, hospitals, and laboratories, the Boston area is a global capital for innovation. As a result of our economic strengths, Boston weathered the Great Recession better than much of the United States.
Yet our successes are only one part of our story. Over the past several generations, Boston, like the U.S. overall, has grown more unequal. Income inequality reached its highest point in 50 years in 2010, when Boston ranked as the third most unequal among the 50 largest cities in the country. We are increasingly a city of the very rich and very poor without the strong middle class that binds us together.
These are the opportunities and challenges that the next mayor will inherit. Successfully meeting them will require a sharp focus on the right priorities: Transforming our schools to provide every student a high-quality education; creating not just jobs but pathways to the middle class; and building safe and healthy neighborhoods. If am I fortunate enough to be elected mayor on November 5, I will take on these priorities with optimism for Boston’s future, enthusiasm for what we can accomplish if we work together, and the independence to always put the people of Boston first.
Since the beginning, schools have been the centerpiece of my campaign. As a former teacher and chair of the City Council’s Education Committee, I believe that schools are the key to improving economic opportunities and building safer neighborhoods. Each morning my wife Meg and I drop our daughter Clare at the Trotter School on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury. The Trotter school has gone from being one of the worst-performing schools in Boston to one of the best, and it offers lessons that we can apply in all of our schools.
We need to recruit and retain the best principals we can find and give them the autonomy and flexibility to work with teachers and parents to manage their schools from the ground up, not the top down. That means dramatically shrinking the central school bureaucracy and reinvesting the savings in the classroom. We need to provide fully staffed social and emotional health services in all of our schools, because students who struggle with untreated trauma cannot be expected to concentrate on math and reading. And we need to extend the school day so that every child has access to art, music, science, humanities, and physical education on a regular basis throughout the school year.
Stronger economic opportunities are grounded in our schools, but our work doesn’t end there. We also need to support the new and small businesses that create jobs in our neighborhoods. My jobs plan calls for a Made in Boston fund that helps businesses access the capital they need to buy equipment and inventory and a Buy Boston campaign that creates a market for their goods and services among our region’s large companies and institutions.
My plan also calls for promoting workforce development targeted at jobs that require at least two years of college. These are good, skilled jobs in areas like healthcare and the green economy — jobs that cannot be outsourced. And we also need to recognize that we’re not competing with Cambridge but with regions around the world, from the North Carolina Research Triangle to Silicon Valley to Shanghai. I will collaborate with leaders from other cities in greater Boston to attract companies, investment, and talented people to our area.
Nothing has the power to reduce violence on our streets like great schools and great jobs. Every Bostonian has a right to live in a safe and healthy neighborhood, so we have a lot of work to do to reduce crime and violence. I have a comprehensive plan to improve public safety that includes high-quality afterschool, evening, and weekend programs for young people; reinvigorated community policing carried out by a diverse police department that reflects the whole city in order to build trust with residents; and a public health strategy that recognizes the link between safety and treating mental health and addiction.
To achieve our priorities we need to keep our city’s finances strong. Mayor Menino deserves enormous credit for his careful fiscal stewardship over the last 20 years. Investing in our priorities for the long term demands a mayor who will always put the public’s interests first. I have shown throughout this campaign that I will be beholden to no one but the people of Boston when it comes time to make difficult decisions about our city’s future.
I want Boston to be a place where people from all walks of life can make a home and say it was the best decision they ever made. That’s my vision for Boston’s future and that’s why I am asking for your vote on November 5.