The Boston Mayorathon

Outside the Boston Mayor's Office, where one of these twelve candidates will sit come November. (Photo credit: Metro)

Outside the Boston Mayor’s Office, where one of these twelve candidates will sit come November. (Photo credit: Metro)

Boston’s mayoral candidates jockey for votes a month before the primary that will narrow their field from twelve to two.

It’s been twenty years since Boston last elected a new mayor, and the winds of change are blowing. Outgoing incumbent Thomas Menino has pledged to remain neutral, though observers suggest he privately supports a former staffer and longtime political ally. Whatever his leaning, there’s little doubt he means to protect his executive legacy.

And with the first place candidate holding just 12% of the vote, it’s still anyone’s race to win or lose. The diverse field includes City Councilors, State Representatives, organizers, and activists, but who of them will claim Boston City Hall?

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ArroyoHeadshotFelix G. Arroyo

Boston City Councilor (At-Large/Citywide)

The son of Felix D. Arroyo, the first Latino elected to the Boston City Council, Felix G. Arroyo followed his father to the city legislature in January 2010. His tenure on the Council has been marked primarily by youth and elderly affairs, though he developed a unique economic policy called “Invest in Boston.” The plan never received Mayor Menino’s full support, but it was designed to leverage the $1 billion in city funds held in local institutions. Banks which made loans for local business development with city deposits would be rewarded, encouraging reinvestment in the city’s economy.

If elected mayor, Arroyo has promised to invest more equitably in Boston’s neighborhoods, close the academic achievement gap, and end the city’s longstanding reliance on fossil fuel power. His “Invest in Boston” initiative pairs well with his longstanding focus on economic opportunity, particularly for unemployed young people. He would also sell off any city investments in fossil fuel companies, presumably to shift investment to alternative and renewable energy.

Signature issue(s): Youth and elderly affairs

Electoral vulnerabilities: Limited campaign funding

Latest polling: 7th place (4% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 6th place (6% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: John Barros, Charles Clemons, Jr., Charlotte Golar Richie, Charles Yancey, and David Wyatt, any of whom could split the crucial minority vote on Election Day

Potential mayoral first: Would be first Latino/Hispanic Mayor of Boston

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BarrosHeadshotJohn Barros

Member of the Boston School Committee

John Barros is a three year member of the Boston School Committee, the mayor-appointed entity which shapes educational policy for the City of Boston. Born to Cape Verdean immigrants in Roxbury, his lifelong commitment to community activism has received widespread civic and religious praise. At 17, he became the first youth elected to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) Board of Directors, later serving the organization as Vice President and Executive Director. Barros also serves on boards for the New Democracy Coalition and Northeastern University’s Race and Justice Institute.

His current campaign platform is light on specifics, but Barros promises to empower teachers and principals, work with the state to increase affordable housing, and address the lack of artistic and cultural institutions within the city. His signature reform proposal, a “citywide learning system” which would decentralize Boston Public Schools in favor of charter-like autonomy. This departure from established Menino policy comes as a surprise considering the School Committee’s longtime defense of the educational status quo.

Signature issue(s): Education and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Low name recognition

Latest polling: Tied for 10th place (1% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 8th place (3% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Other minority candidates and John R. Connolly, Boston’s other education reform-minded mayoral candidate

Potential mayoral first: Would be first non-white/Cape Verdean Mayor of Boston

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ClemonsHeadshotCharles Clemons, Jr.

Former Boston policeman and co-owner of TOUCH 106.1 FM

Raised in Roxbury, Charles Clemons, Jr. is co-owner of TOUCH 106.1 FM, “the Fabric of the Black Community.” An entrepreneur and activist, a teenage Clemons established a successful music business before moving to law enforcement as a corrections officer and patrolman. He simultaneously operated a limousine service until 2006, when he sold the business to found TOUCH 106.1 FM. In 2009, Clemons joined other music industry professions in a march on Washington, D.C. to demand more independence for local radio stations across the country.

Clemons’ platform claims that Boston’s “New Economy” has benefited affluent newcomers but bypassed its middle- and lower-class citizens. He would focus on creating new affordable housing within the city, increase parental involvement in public education, and adjust municipal property taxes to protect residents against gentrification. Drawing on his experience in law enforcement, the candidate suggests patrolmen should police their own neighborhoods to encourage “community policing.”

Signature issue(s): Public safety and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Low name recognition

Latest polling: Tied for 10th place (1% with 40% undecided) | No representation with 35% undecided

Likely campaign adversaries: Felix G. Arroyo, John Barros, Charlotte Golar Richie, Charles Yancey, and David Wyatt, any of whom could split the crucial minority vote on Election Day

Potential mayoral first: Would be first black Mayor of Boston

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ConleyHeadshotDaniel F. Conley

Suffolk County District Attorney

As Suffolk County District Attorney, Daniel F. Conley entered the race for Mayor of Boston as the candidate to beat. His tenure at the District Attorney’s office produced the nationally-recognized “Boston Miracle,” a remarkable reduction in youth and gang-related violence. He had previously served on the Boston City Council, supporting LGBT equality, curbside recycling services, and numerous public safety provisions. As District Attorney, he has championed measures to tighten gun control, prevent wrongful convictions, and “keep kids on the right track.”

As mayor, Conley would apply his experience in leading “a large, complex public agency” to reforming City Hall. His “Innovation Agenda” calls for citywide fiber optic Internet, results-based job training programs, and a Council of Future Planners to better represent the views of local universities, hospitals, and businesses. Though he stresses that he is more than the “law and order candidate,” he would also adapt many of his successful District Attorney programs to the Boston Police Department.

Signature issue(s): Public safety and economic opportunity

Electoral vulnerabilities: Can be combative, skeptical political establishment

Latest polling: 3rd place (9% with 40% undecided) |3rd place (9% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Martin J. Walsh, who also boasts high name recognition and political gravitas, and John R. Connolly, the second-best funded mayoral candidate behind Conley himself

Potential mayoral first: N/A

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ConnollyHeadshotJohn R. Connolly

Boston City Councilor (At-Large/Citywide)

The son of former Secretary of the Commonwealth Michael J. Connolly, John R. Connolly has served on the Boston City Council since November 2007. Originally a teacher, Connolly taught middle school for at-risk youth in New York City before returning to Massachusetts and teaching in Boston. He earned a law degree from Boston College Law School and focused heavily on pro-bono work before his election to the City Council. Chairing the Council’s Committee on Education, he has championed substantive school reform and greater decentralization of Boston Public Schools.

Notably, Connolly was the only mayoral candidate to openly challenge incumbent Mayor Thomas Menino before the announcement that he would not stand for reelection.

His early entry into the race gave Connolly time to develop a comprehensive mayoral platform built around Boston’s schools and neighborhoods. On education, he would extend the school day, lift the cap on charter schools, and equalize funding opportunities for all city students. He would also expand “green” initiatives, establish “Buy Boston” and “Made in Boston” economic policies, and push to overhaul the debt-ridden Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

Signature issue(s): Education and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Openly challenged popular Menino, charter schools politically divisive

Latest polling: 1st place (12% with 40% undecided) | 1st place (12% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Martin J. Walsh and Daniel F. Conley, the high-profile candidates directly behind him in the polls

Potential mayoral first: In Connolly’s words, would be first teacher Mayor of Boston

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ConsalvoHeadshotRobert Consalvo

Boston City Councilor (District 5)

Representing Boston’s most-diverse electoral district, Robert Consalvo was first elected to the Boston City Council in June 2002. His political career began as a aide to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy before returning to Massachusetts to staff the state legislature. In the years since, he has made a name for himself as a hard-working advocate for civic planning and minority interests. His legislative accomplishments include a landmark foreclosure law requiring banks to maintain their blighted properties within city limits and an updated redistricting plan consistent with federal voting rights law.

Consalvo has pushed repeatedly for a pledge against “outside money” in Boston’s mayoral campaign, though he has not clarified exactly what kinds of funding would qualify. If elected, he has proposed the creation of a cabinet-level Office of Innovation, Ideas, and Technology to spearhead graduate and job retention in the city. He has also promised to expand public safety operations and ensure that every city neighborhood is equipped with a well-funded local school.

Signature issue(s): Municiapal efficiency and innovation

Electoral vulnerabilities: Considered outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino’s man on the City Council

Latest polling: 4th place (8% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 4th place (7% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: John R. Connolly, with whom he has clashed over outside endorsements and spending, and other City Council candidates

Potential mayoral first: N/A

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GolarRichieHeadshotCharlotte Golar Richie

Former Massachusetts State Representative (5th Suffolk District)

A State Representative representing Dorchester and Roxbury, Charlotte Golar Richie served three terms at the State House before her appointment to a cabinet-level position on community development under Mayor Thomas Menino. She was later tapped by Governor Deval Patrick as a senior adviser for federal, state, and community affairs, though she left the position in 2009 to run his successful reelection campaign. Since then, Golar Richie has served as Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations at YouthBuild USA, a Massachusetts-based youth and community development program.

Though much of her campaign platform is light on specifics, Golar Richie has promised a detailed jobs and development plan to harness Boston’s innovative economy. Regulatory reform tops the list, particularly at the controversial Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) which controls development within the city. She has also proposed that 25% of the city’s capital budget be spent to support private investment. According to her campaign, $1 in similar city funding has produced a $20 return on investment.

Signature issue(s): Economic opportunity and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Has flip-flopped on some issues

Latest polling: Tied for 5th place (5% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 4th place (7% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Felix G. Arroyo, John Barros, Charles Yancey, and David Wyatt, any of whom could split the crucial minority vote on Election Day

Potential mayoral first: Would be first black and female Mayor of Boston

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RossHeadshotMichael P. Ross

Boston City Councilor (District 8)

Representing Back Bay and Beacon Hill, Boston City Councilor Michael P. Ross has served the city’s political and economic heart since his election in 1999. He had previously worked on the team responsible for developing the city’s first website, championing tech-savvy government once he joined the Council himself. In his two terms as City Council President — at the height of the Great Recession — Ross secured municipal budgets which preserved essential services. He has long supported efforts to increase government transparency, fighting to record and publish Council business on the Internet.

If elected, Ross promises to highlight municipal innovation and create an “urban caucus” of interested parties to tackle transportation reform, stressing that the regional economy depends on a reliable rapid transit system. The Councilor also pledged to increase vocational education options within the city and eliminate redundant municipal agencies. Breaking from current policy, he suggested Boston partner rather than compete with local cities (Cambridge, Somerville, etc.) to attract new businesses to Greater Boston.

Signature issue(s): Innovation and transportation reform

Electoral vulnerabilities: Small existing voter base

Latest polling: Tied for 5th place (5% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 6th place (6% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Other candidates from the Boston City Council, all of whom move to claim the Council’s collective accomplishments as their own

Potential mayoral first: N/A

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WalczakHeadshotBill Walczak

Community organizer and activist

Founder of the Codman Square Health Center and Codman Academy Charter Public School, Bill Walczak has arguably created some of Boston’s most successful non-profit institutions. Arriving in Dorchester in 1973, Walczak challenged neighborhood organizations to do better and transform the “Boston Badlands.” His Health Center provided much-needed medical care, and the Codman Academy has helped to ease the city’s education crisis. In recognition for this work, Walczak was made head of the troubled Carney Hospital in 2011. He has since become Vice President of External Relations for Shawmut Design and Construction.

The Walczak platform calls for neighborhood-specific master planning to address the citywide housing crisis, an approach he would push to extend across Greater Boston. Other key policies include 24/7 rapid transit service and aggressive action to reduce the effects of global climate change. Walczak has also raised the loudest opposition to proposed casino development in East Boston, blasting the political establishment for attempting to rush one into development at Suffolk Downs. His proposed alternative would prioritize new housing, shops, and light manufacturing.

Signature issue(s): Community and economic development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Small existing voter base, casino issue politically divisive

Latest polling: Tied for 5th place (5% with 40% undecided) | Tied for 6th place (6% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: Michael P. Ross and Daniel F. Conley, both of whom have made strong statements on casino development in East Boston

Potential mayoral first: N/A

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WalshHeadshot2Martin J. Walsh

Massachusetts State Representative (13th Suffolk District)

A first-generation American, Martin J. Walsh has represented southeastern Boston in the state legislature since 1997. He survived childhood cancer and went on to become a union laborer before turning to politics at age 30. His legislative career has focused on infrastructure and education issues, including support for “alternative schools” in Boston such as magnets or in-district charters. Walsh was also an early advocate for same-sex marriage equality, voicing his support before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court legalized the practice a decade ago. He has remained active in union politics, though he resigned his positions in organized labor in order to run for mayor.

Walsh based his campaign platform around four key tenants: access, accountability, collaboration, and transparency. To those ends, he would expand scholastic and professional training programs while tasking a Workforce Development Committee with developing policies agreeable to the public and private sectors. New housing development would utilize transit-based forecasting to ensure that every city resident had access to some form of rapid transit. Lastly, he would create “Little City Halls” in neighborhoods to handle basic civil services where residents live.

Signature issue(s): Housing and workforce development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Limited campaign platform, union support politically divisive

Latest polling: 2nd place (11% with 40% undecided) | 2nd place (11% with 35% undecided)

Likely campaign adversaries: John R. Connolly and Daniel F. Conley, the high-profile candidates directly above and below him in latest polls

Potential mayoral first: N/A

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WyattHeadshotDavid James Wyatt

Salesman and former candidate for Boston City Council

Boston Herald salesman, David James Wyatt was one of the last declared candidates for the 2013 mayoral election. Wyatt ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Boston City Council in 2007. His campaign website claims he has thirteen years of teaching experience in Boston Public Schools and marched for municipal reform alongside Councilor Chuck Turner before Turner’s arrest in late 2011.

It is difficult to summarize Wyatt’s campaign platform because he has released little in the way of substantive proposals. The sole Republican candidate, he has declared himself as pro-life and promised to fight for economic opportunity, better jobs, safer streets, and an end to “machine politics” in Boston.

Signature issue(s): Civil rights and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Virtually nonexistent voter base and name recognition

Latest polling: Tied for 10th place (1% with 40% undecided) | No representation with 35% undecided

Likely campaign adversaries: All other declared candidates

Potential mayoral first: Would be first black Mayor of Boston

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YanceyHeadshotCharles Yancey

Boston City Councilor (District 4)

A City Councilor since 1983, Charles Yancey has held public office longer than any other candidate for Mayor of Boston. A crusader for female and minority rights, Yancey turned political during his four years at Tufts University. He organized marches and other demonstrations, and eventually established the university’s Afro-American Society and African-American Cultural Center. On the City Council, Yancey has focused on community investment and civil rights, famously defying his colleagues to defend disgraced Councilor Chuck Turner after his arrest in late 2011.

Some have wondered whether Yancey’s mayoral run is serious business or political stunt. His bare-bones campaign website boasts more promotional stills than policy proposals — several dozen to zero, in fact. The Councilor has bristled at the implication that he is any less a contender than the other eleven mayoral candidates, but without a platform to reference or policy positions to point to, it’s difficult to say what, exactly, he’s after.

Signature issue(s): Civil rights and community development

Electoral vulnerabilities: Small existing voter base, few concrete policy proposals

Latest polling: Tied for 8th place (3% with 40% undecided) | No representation with 35% undecided

Likely campaign adversaries: Other candidates from the Boston City Council, all of whom move to claim the Council’s collective accomplishments as their own

Potential mayoral first: Would be first black Mayor of Boston

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