I want to be the next mayor of Boston because I believe that this city, as great as it is, has yet to reach its potential.
There are many Bostons. We are a city of thinkers, a city of entrepreneurs, a city of idealists, and a city of neighbors. Often that’s as it should be. But our greatest moments come when our differences recede and we act as one city, whether in our response to tragedies like the Marathon bombing earlier this year or in our success reducing violent crime in the 1990s.
I believe the next great era in our city’s history will depend on this kind of collective strength — but it will only be possible if we make such unity a fundamental feature of our civic landscape. This is especially important in the realm of ideas. We must transcend the invisible boundaries that separate us and more deeply connect our city’s world-class brainpower to the lived experience of its streets, its schools, its workplaces, and its people.
I’ve spent my life crossing boundaries in this city. I went from my immigrant family’s three-decker in Dorchester to the State House. As a legislator, I put my career on the line to protect Massachusetts’ groundbreaking equal marriage law. And, having gone directly into the building trades from high school, I went back to college later in life to earn my degree at Boston College.
It was what some would call a non-traditional educational path. I learned from my own journey never to take one moment of my education for granted. Education expands career horizons but it also allows you to grow as a person, as you come into contact with historic ideas and new ways of thinking.
At the same time, my life experience shaped the way I encountered those ideas. I always think about new ideas in terms of how they affect real people and how they could help them face the challenges in their lives. Too often in our history, our best thinkers have been distant from the city streets and neighborhoods, with no direct understanding of how their plans would affect people’s lives.
When we’ve been at our best in this city it’s because we have bridged that gap. In 1965, doctors H. Jack Geiger from Harvard and Count Gibson from Tufts opened a health clinic on Columbia Point, not far from my home. Starting in 1966, Senator Ted Kennedy won federal funding for the clinic and made it the model for legislation creating Community Health Centers across the nation that could treat people under Medicare and Medicaid. The voices of an under-served neighborhood met the vision of two innovative doctors and, through Kennedy’s matchless political will, created a new model of health care access for the city and the nation.
That’s the tradition of innovation we have to live up to. As a legislator I’ve been privileged to support the Geiger-Gibson Health Center and many others in my district, and as mayor I would connect our public health initiatives to these key access points.
Today’s innovations are being driven by new technology in a culture of entrepreneurship. If we nurture this culture, we can use technology to create the boundary-breaking connections that will unleash our next generation of great ideas. Now is the time to make a leap forward.
Recognizing the importance of this moment, I’ve made my campaign one that connects people around ideas. We’ve brought together hundreds of volunteer advisors from all fields and backgrounds, who have modeled the kind of transformative energy we need, in their diversity as well as in the ideas they’ve contributed.
One result is a Technology and Innovation policy that focuses on creating the infrastructure of a deep-seated, transformative connectivity. Using optical fiber cable throughout the city we will make ultra-high-speed internet service universal. By re-imagining our city website and opening up our data, we will provide a full-service hub for online services, app development, and social media. And by mobilizing the physical and fiscal resources needed for innovative start-ups to come together in dynamic “urban accelerators,” we will foster technological breakthroughs while bringing the benefits of the information economy to all of our neighborhoods.
I want to be mayor because in my life I’ve learned to value deeply the contributions that every person, from every corner of our city, can make to our collective welfare — and I’ve seen the magic that happens when they are free to do so. More than arrive with new ideas, the next mayor must put in place this kind of environment for unleashing the creative power latent in our city.