In 2017, Boston voters have a choice between two progressive candidates for mayor. JP Progressives engaged in a deep discussion on the role of the mayor in building a progressive city with better outcomes for all Bostonians. Mayor Walsh and Councilor Jackson are both strong leaders committed to a progressive and diverse Boston. After careful consideration and a thorough discussion about our values and the purpose of our organization, JP Progressives has decided to endorse Mayor Marty Walsh for a second term.
The race between Mayor Walsh and Councilor Jackson has energized and divided our neighborhood and our city, and we thought long and hard about this endorsement between these two progressive candidates. We recognize that Councilor Jackson’s candidacy represents an opportunity to elect Boston’s first black mayor which would mark a significant milestone for a city that is still coming to terms with issues of racial justice. Many of us have worked with Councilor Jackson and respect his leadership on key issues facing our city. He was instrumental in the defeat Question 2 and his advocacy for funding for our public schools has been critical to progressive education policy in Boston. For years Councilor Jackson has been a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised, communities of color and marginalized communities. We hope that Councilor Jackson will continue to raise these issues both during the campaign and afterwards.
In 2013, JP Progressives endorsed Marty Walsh for Mayor. As a State Representative Marty Walsh had a consistently progressive voting record, including his support of equal marriage, his vote in favor of transgender rights, his sponsorship of parental leave, his key vote against the death penalty, his support of CORI reform, his efforts to implement the Secure Communities programs in Boston, and his advocacy for better-funded public services and an increased minimum wage. As a leader in creating opportunities for women and people of color in the building trades and during his first campaign, Marty spoke out against economic inequality and for building a more inclusive city that stands up for the rights of working men and women. We also appreciate that Mayor Walsh is standing up for all our people against a dangerous federal administration, with active support of Dreamers and immigrants that sets an example for local officials across the nation.
Off the national stage, our city is going through major transformation and growth, and many people in Jamaica Plain are worried about Boston remaining a place that is for everyone. Understandably, some of our friends and neighbors question whether the mayor is doing enough on that central question. Yet after much debate and consideration, we in JP Progressives believe that Marty Walsh passes the progressive test of having credible actions and believable plans for Boston.
On major issues facing the citizens of Boston, such as housing, education, economic inequality, and the environment, we believe Mayor Walsh has thoughtful plans and has made progress. We support a second Walsh administration with the recognition that more needs to be done to create a Boston for everyone, and an expectation that Mayor Walsh’s plans will be realized with fidelity to the progressive ideals that inspired them.
When Mayor Walsh took office, Boston had a major housing deficit and people were moving to Boston faster than we could build homes for them, creating displacement. After his election, the Mayor implemented a housing plan, Housing A Changing City: Boston 2030, where he set out to create 53,000 units of housing across a range of income levels. To date more than 21,000 units have moved forward. In spite of the decline of federal funds for affordable housing, his administration has created thousands of units of affordable housing units and rents have fallen for the first time in 7 years. He also created the Office of Housing Stability which helps residents find and maintain stable, safe, and affordable housing.
We all believe there is a need for even more to be done, and we encourage the Mayor to continue his efforts through policies like Inclusionary Development and Linkage so that we can remain a vibrant and diverse city. In particular, we look for the Office of Housing Stability and other creative solutions to provide immediate relief to those experiencing the housing crisis.
We all agree that improvement is needed in the Boston Public Schools. We need more resources for education, but recognize the city has a sharply limited ability to raise its own revenue. We believe part of the solution comes from additional state funding; that’s why JP Progressives is supporting Senator Chang-Diaz’s efforts to update the Foundation Budget Formula and why we’re fighting for the millionaire’s tax in 2018. Since Mayor Walsh has taken office, BPS graduation rates are at an all-time high, over 700 pre-K seats have been added, and BPS has gained more Level 1 and Level 2 schools.
We applaud these accomplishments yet at the same time are frustrated, like many of you, with the slow pace of progress and will continue advocating on behalf of the students in BPS who deserve a first class education. We expect that growth in the city budget will be dedicated to our children who need it most.
Boston has the greatest income inequality of any US city. This is a crisis that we believe the Mayor is committed to addressing. He launched Small Business Centers to help support the city’s nearly 40,000 local small businesses and he is a supporter of the $15 statewide minimum wage. Under his watch, over 11,000 Bostonians have received job training through new community programs.
The issues of income inequality are complex and interconnected with racism and classism. We look forward to more concrete efforts from the Mayor in his 2nd term to address these issues.
Racial Justice and Criminal Justice Reform
To confront Boston’s deep-seated challenges with achieving racial justice, Mayor Walsh partnered with 100 Resilient Cities to establish the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, which released Resilient Boston, a strategy for advancing racial equity in our city. Mayor Walsh has diversified the city’s cabinet by appointing 50% people of color. The Boston Police Department (BPD) command staff is now the most diverse in history. The reinstated BPD Cadet program will enable more people of color to serve in the police department. The Mayor held Boston’s first city-sponsored town hall conversation on race, and partnered with the Hyams Foundation to conduct dialogues about racism throughout Boston.
Racism has longstanding roots in our city and its impacts persist throughout our institutions, from ballparks to the criminal justice system. We challenge Mayor Walsh to use the power of his voice and his office to bring greater urgency to this issue, establish policies that address discrimination by police and enable equity in wealth creation, employment, education and every area of city life to finally create an equitable Boston.
Climate change has become an ever-increasing threat to our city, and that will only continue. The Mayor is committed to protecting our environment and issued Boston’s Climate Action Plan with the goal of cutting our carbon emissions 80% by 2050. His Climate Ready Boston report shows how rising sea levels and storms are likely to affect Boston and guides how to prepare our neighborhoods and infrastructure for this impact. He has demonstrated national and global leadership as the North American Co-Chair of the C40 Climate Cities steering committee and won the Paris Climate Agreement’s C40 award for Smart Cities and Smart Community Engagement. In 2017, Boston led cities nationwide in upholding our nation’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, including publishing climate data online that was scrubbed from the EPA’s website.
In conclusion, we believe Mayor Walsh’s record of policies that create progressive outcomes deserve our support. With our endorsement, we also call on the Mayor to engage with his constituents on the progressive issues that matter to us and to address those who feel left behind in Boston, from children without the resources to succeed to residents who struggle to pay the rent. Both Mayor Walsh and Councilor Jackson have strong support among our membership, but we believe Mayor Walsh has earned a second term. We look forward to upcoming debates with the candidates and with members of our community as we decide who should run our city. We encourage our membership and all of JP to listen in, participate, and most importantly listen to each other in the rigorous but respectful debate required by our civic experiment.
The JP Progressives Steering Committee
We will continue to work with all of you, regardless of your opinions on this race, for a more progressive Boston. As always, we welcome your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.