At-Large City Councilor John Connolly, who is running for mayor, came to Jamaica Plain on April 29 for a walking tour from Canary Square to Jackson Square, where he talked to business owners and residents about a variety of issues, including streamlining the permitting process for restaurants.
About halfway through the tour, Connolly sat down with the Gazette at the Mozart Street Playground where he discussed the Boston Marathon bombings and Mayor Thomas Menino’s decision not to seek reelection.
Connolly said he and his wife eat out in JP occasionally and it is great to come back and talk to local businesses and residents. He said he “loves the vibrancy of Jamaica Plain.”
“Anyone who will walk with me, I will walk with them,” said Connolly.
The tour started at the Canary Square restaurant, where owner Michael Moxley said he supports Connolly because of his focus on education. Moxley said he has three children who do not attend Boston Public Schools because he has never had any luck with the school-assignment lottery. He said he likes Connolly because of his “approachability” and that “he is real.”
At The Haven in Hyde Square, Scotch deviled eggs were eaten as Moxley and Haven owner Jason Waddleton discussed the difficulties in opening a restaurant. Waddleton said he would like to see the permitting process streamlined. Connolly said that he plans to do that if elected mayor.
Connolly also stopped at the Hyde Square Task Force, Fat Ram’s Pumpkin Tattoo and Revolution Bicycle Repair and spoke to residents along the way, switching to Spanish when needed. Connolly took three years of Spanish in college and taught in a bilingual school. He said he can understand Spanish and speak it very slowly.
At the Mozart playground, Connolly said he was surprised when Menino announced he was not running for reelection.
“I was pretty floored,” said Connolly. “I always assumed he was running, in my gut. I think he was hoping to run.”
But, he said, Menino ultimately decided it was not the best thing for him to do. Connolly said despite Menino dropping out, his own message is the same: transforming schools, safer neighborhoods and a strong economy.
“I think voters appreciate I made the decision before Menino dropped out,” he said.
Although the message is the same, Connolly noted that the campaign tactics will have to change, as he said, “Everyone in the city is running for mayor. You really need to focus on retail politics to a greater degree.” He said one of the biggest challenges in the election will be to differentiate himself from other candidates in such a large field.
Connolly also spoke about the Boston Marathon bombing, saying that it “will stay with all of us forever.” He said the dilemma of how to be an open and free city, while being as safe as possible, will need to be addressed.