Jackson Pledges New Direction For Boston
By State House News Service | January 13, 2017, 9:51 EDT
ROXBURY, MASS., JAN. 12, 2017…..Without mentioning the mayor by name, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson tore into what he said was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s misplaced focus on the city’s wealthy business community as he announced his mayoral bid at a rally in Dudley Square on Thursday.
“Across the city, gentrification has become a neighborhood norm. We seem to be judging our success by the number of million-dollar condos, skyscrapers and publicly funded helipads that are being built rather than the mobility of our families and the percentage of them who are managing to escape poverty. Can a brother get an amen?” Jackson said to cheers from his crowd of supporters.
Jackson excoriated Walsh’s attempts to bring an Indy car race to the city and to host the Summer Olympics, along with the the tax breaks given to General Electric as part of the mayor’s successful effort with the state to convince the international tech giant to move its headquarters to Boston.
“We’ve lost our way. We are not focusing on the right things in our city right now,” Jackson said.
WATCH: Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson jumped into Boston’s mayoral race on Thursday announcing his candidacy during a speech in Roxbury.
A district councilor first elected in 2011, Jackson pledged to invest more in schools where he said the acclaimed Boston Latin School could not afford to offer eighth-grade science and devote attention to communities left out of Boston’s booming economic growth.
“Roxbury’s Dudley Square where we are standing right here is the epicenter of the city of Boston, but unemployment in this neighborhood is over 17 percent,” Jackson said. He said, “The city of Boston should not be up for grabs to the highest bidder, but should be run by a mayor who will take the city to the highest heights.”
Both Walsh and Jackson have overcome adversity in their own lives. Jackson, who is black, was born to a 13-year-old who had been sexually assaulted by two men, and was adopted into his family with the help of social worker Marilyn Anderson Chase, who remained in touch with the family, attended Jackson’s campaign launch, and said she plans to help out on the campaign.
Walsh’s parents emigrated from Galway, Ireland, and as a young man he struggled with alcoholism, crediting his sobriety to the support of family and organized labor – where he rose to a leadership position before winning election as mayor in 2013.
The first-term mayor, a former state representative from Dorchester, has already declared his intention to seek re-election, but has so far been laconic about the upcoming contest.
“The field is not set. We have three or four months before papers come out. They come out in April. There will be other names I’m sure that will circulate that are coming into the race, out of the race,” Walsh told reporters at a Thursday afternoon event at the Boston Police Department, held within a mile of Jackson’s rally, to announce a new police-youth mentorship program. Walsh noted mayoral candidate Mary Franklin, a lesser political figure, and said he had spoken to his friend Jackson on the phone Wednesday. He said, “I asked him, ‘Let’s keep this race clean and remember at the end of the day Boston is the best city in the world and we want to keep it that way.'”
With a theme of “We are Boston,” Jackson’s launch event was held outside the Haley House Bakery Cafe on a balmy day for January. Jackson was introduced by his adoptive mother, Rosa Jackson, who told the crowd he “has always been a politician. Always.”
WATCH: Boston Mayor Martin Walsh took questions from reporters on Thursday about Councilor Tito Jackson’s plans to challenge him in the upcoming mayoral election.
Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker – a political friend of the mayor’s – heralded GE’s decision to move its headquarters to Boston, and said it would help spur job growth. Jackson stopped short of saying he would tear up the agreement, though he said he would be “working against” the public helipad called for in the deal.
“If folks want a helipad they can build it on their own,” Jackson said.
At the police event, Walsh also touted what he said was a drop in crime over the last three years, and a drop in the arrest rate, which he said was important and overlooked.
“The stat that’s the most important stat that no one seems to focus on is that in the last two years, arrests in the city of Boston are down 25 percent,” Walsh said.
As a councilor, Jackson was an active opponent of Walsh’s ill-fated attempt to bring the 2024 Summer Games to the city, a vocal supporter of city students protesting for more education funding, and a key spokesman in the campaign against a charter school expansion ballot question – an effort the new chairman of the Democratic party said would be a blueprint for future electoral success. Both Jackson and Walsh are Democrats and the city’s election is nonpartisan.
Jackson said the city should create jobs for people with criminal records, provide free monthly bus passes for all students from 6th grade through high school, and limit the Boston Police Department’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
Asked about his prior support for Walsh, Jackson said his campaign was “not about an individual,” yet his speech clearly referenced faults he finds with the sitting mayor.
Jackson criticized a focus on City Hall Plaza at the expense of neighborhoods, and said the city should have a “mayor who is focused on building human capital not simply accumulating social and political capital, a mayor who will not only talk about issues of race, but will do something to close the disparities.”
In making his pitch, Jackson gave a shout out to “10 people on Twitter” – Walsh’s notorious characterization of the organized opposition to his 2015 Olympics effort – and quoted Proverbs, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, President John Kennedy, Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass.
While many in the crowd were clearly moved by Jackson’s rhetoric, others left the rally without a clear favorite in the race, including Rep. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, and former City Councilor Chuck Turner, who was convicted on federal corruption charges and said he would decide who to support after the preliminary.
Answering a reporter’s question, Jackson allowed that he was “disappointed” by Walsh.
“I was disappointed. I believe there are many other things that we could have done with the dollars that we had,” Jackson said. He continued, “But you know what? I’m not disappointed anymore. Instead of being disappointed, I’m actually stepping up, and I’m acting, and I’m running for mayor in the city of Boston.”
–Written by Andy Metzger