Martin J. Walsh, an accomplished advocate for working people, a son of immigrants and a proud product of the city of Boston, is a candidate for Mayor. An experienced state lawmaker and native of Dorchester, Marty has the record, skills and passion needed to move Boston forward.
Marty’s parents both emigrated from Ireland in the 1950s and came to Boston. Having met at the Intercolonial, a dance hall on Dudley Street, John and Mary Walsh married and settled in a home on Taft Street in St. Margaret’s Parish, where Marty and his brother Johnny grew up, and where his mother still lives. At age seven, Marty survived a bout of Burkett’s lymphoma, a form of childhood cancer, thanks in part to experimental treatments and extraordinary care he received at Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
After attending St. Margaret’s School in Dorchester and Newman Prep High School, Marty followed in his father’s footsteps to become a union laborer, working his first job at the age of 18 at Commonwealth Pier (now known as the World Trade Center) on the South Boston waterfront. With both Marty’s father and uncle active in leadership of Laborers Local 223, the Walsh household was filled with discussions about politics, the labor movement, and the importance of being involved.
In 1997, Marty won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, representing the 13th Suffolk District, which includes Dorchester and ranks among the most diverse districts in the state.
In the House, Marty has established himself as a leader on creating and protecting jobs, and growing the economy. He is the author of landmark public construction law reforms that increased flexibility and accountability, helped pass transit-oriented mixed-use “smart growth district” legislation, and has been a strong supporter of infrastructure and zoning improvements. During the fiscal crisis of the past several years, Marty was a key broker in compromise legislation giving municipalities more tools to negotiate substantial savings on health insurance benefits while protecting the rights of hardworking people to receive the decent pay and benefits they have earned. A founding board member of the Neighborhood House Public Charter School, Marty has been an aggressive advocate for strong public schools. He has championed annual funding for alternative schools in Boston and helped pass a law that allows the city to transform underperforming schools into pilot, magnet and in-district charter schools.
A champion for civil rights, Marty was a strong and early advocate for marriage equality, which he calls his proudest vote ever as a legislator. He has also become known as the State House leader on substance abuse and recovery issues. Marty previously served as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Federal Affairs and is currently the House chair of the Ethics Committee.
Marty simultaneously rose through the ranks of his union, Laborers Local 223, culminating with his selection in 2011 to lead the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District, a role which he held for two years until resigning in order to run for Mayor.
As head of the Building Trades, Marty worked with business and community leaders and city officials to promote high quality development, producing construction and permanent jobs for the city, along with new tax revenue. Marty negotiated a Project Labor Agreement that helped pave the way for the building that is to be home to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the anchor of Boston’s new Innovation District. In partnership with the Boston Housing Authority, he created Building Pathways, a pre-apprentice program connecting building trades jobs and opportunities with those traditionally underrepresented in the industry, mainly women and people of color. Earlier this year, Marty and the Building Trades graduated an all-women class, possibly the first of its kind in the nation.
In all his endeavors, Marty has become known as someone whose word is his bond. He is tough and fearless in standing up for what’s right, and able to achieve results: “a “go-to man” in the words of The Dorchester Reporter. Jamaica Plain state Representative Liz Malia describes Marty as a “a progressive, pragmatic problem-solver who will fight for every corner and community of our city.”
Marty, age 46, is a homeowner on Tuttle Street in Dorchester and a graduate of Boston College. He shares his life with his longtime partner, Lorrie Higgins, and her daughter, Lauren.