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Road To City Hall Part 2: Neighborhoods Play Role In Race

By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
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Mary Blake is an award-winning reporter and anchor who joined WBZ News...
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BOSTON (CBS) — Boston’s Action for Community Development held a Mayor’s Forum at their headquarters in downtown Boston last week.

Ten of the 12 mayoral candidates showed up.

Dorchester State Representative Marty Walsh was the first to arrive and talked about his top priority as Boston Mayor if he wins.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports

“The first thing I’m gonna do is have a meeting in my office to talk about, and deal with, some of the violence and crime in our city, and I’ve been telling people as I go around the city that this is an issue that I want to tackle right away, ” said Walsh.

Read: Road To City Hall Part 1

Upon reflection, he also added with a smile, “The first thing is probably going to be sitting there saying, Oh My God!”

Walsh is 46 years old, a former construction worker who has served in the Legislature since 1997.

He is Dorchester born and bred, a neighborhood guy.

Boston College History Professor James O’Toole said neighborhoods figure quite prominently in Boston political history.

Related: Meet The Mayoral Candidates

“Boston politics never really had the single all-powerful political machine that other cities had. Even back in the time of James Michael Curley and ‘Honey’ Fitzgerald, Boston politics was a much more fractured, more feudal kind of operation. James Curley, for example was based in Roxbury. That was his power base. He was practically nothing in Dorchester. Nobody there would vote for him because he was a Roxbury guy. The same with Patrick Kennedy, President Kennedy’s grandfather. His power base was East Boston. As soon as he crossed the harbor, nobody paid any attention to Kennedy,” said O’Toole.

O’Toole said this all changed with Tom Menino.

“One of the significant things with Tom Menino’s long tenure in the Boston was just the fact of the long tenure itself, and the consolidation of power in the Mayor’s Office.” O’Toole added that Menino will be a tough act to follow. “I suspect that the central authority that Mayor Menino was able to put in place will dissipate with his departure,” predicted O’Toole.

Boston City Councilor Rob Consalvo is the only candidate who lives in Menino’s neighborhood, Hyde Park. Consalvo wants to set up an Office of Ideas and Innovation.

“People in the neighborhoods want to be part of helping run city government. They want to share their ideas, they’ve got a lot to offer and on day one we’re going to bring them right to the table to do it,” he promised.

Like the majority, former Boston School Committee member and current community leader John Barros lives in Dorchester.

“The top three issues in this campaign are education, development and making sure we have thriving, healthy neighborhoods,” he said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake will have more on the issues in this race coming up in part 3 of her series.

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