FOREST HILLS—Nine mayoral candidates attended a forum organized by the West Roxbury Courthouse Neighborhood Association this week. It was the first open candidate forum held for mayoral candidates in this year’s race.
City Councilors Felix Arroyo, John Connolly and Rob Consalvo; Boston School Committee member John Barros; former Boston Police officer and co-owner of TOUCH 106.1 FM Charles Clemons; Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley; former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie; TOUCH 106.1 FM co-founder John Laing; and state Rep. Marty Walsh sat down with about 40 members of the community May 6 to discuss their intentions as potential mayor and to answer questions at the Covenant Congregational Church at 455 Arborway.
The candidates were mostly non-specific in their answers regarding plans for improving the city, sticking to generalities like “bringing people together,” “broadening opportunities” and “improving schools,” though Arroyo brought up his proposed “Invest in Boston” bill, which would invest Boston’s money in banks that invest in Boston to help promote economic development.
Connolly said he’d like City services to be as easy-to-use as visiting an Apple Store. Richie added that high housing prices are a contributing factor to many challenges the City faces and that she would aim to create greater affordability in existing housing stock while encouraging more affordable housing to be built.
Gerard O’Connor asked the candidates about how they would channel JP’s public engagement into desired results instead of leaving the community feeling like it had wasted its efforts. A supporter of a bridge replacement for the Casey Overpass, O’Connor used that process as an example of unsatisfactory results.
Conley stated that in such instances, he would “hold the state’s feet to the fire.” Connolly said he would aim to create an inclusive City government “that’s not going through the motions to achieve a pre-determined result.” Neither outlined a specific plan to achieve those results.
The other candidates agreed that the City should listen to its constituents and work to “enact the will of the people,” according to Laing, and “work to hammer out consensus,” Richie said, but none had a specific plan. Walsh added that he would “treat every part of the City the same.”
When asked what their priorities would be in their first 100 days in office, most of the candidates mentioned public safety, bettering public schools and optimizing the City budget. Several mentioned job creation and asking for suggestions from the community.
Conley said in response to that question that he would aim to “break the cycle of poverty almost exclusively,” and that would be his primary goal as mayor.
O’Connor and his wife, the organizer of the event, Liz O’Connor, hosted Barros at a house party last month.