Boston Councilor Tito Jackson mum on future political plans

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BOSTON — If there were ever a day for Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson to dispel notions he might challenge Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Monday may have been it. That opportunity came and went for Jackson, who declined to allow his political future to be nailed down.

“I, at this point, am a happy District 7 city councilor. I like my job. I look forward to doing my job for the foreseeable future. If there were anything to change, I will let you know,” Jackson told reporters when asked if he would seek to return to his council seat.

Jackson’s photo graced the front page of the Boston Herald on Monday morning accompanied in the paper by an article about buzz that Jackson is positioning himself to take on Walsh in his re-election bid in 2017. Some City Hall watchers told the newspaper Jackson would need to make up his mind soon.

On Monday, after testifying on behalf of MBTA janitors at a Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board meeting, Jackson declined to say whether he would seek re-election to his council seat or if he was considering a run for mayor.

“If there are opportunities that present themselves in the future, I would look at those opportunities on a case by case basis,” Jackson said.

Jackson noted stark disparities within Boston between the moneyed Back Bay and more economically distressed parts of Roxbury in his district, which he called the “Mass. Ave. gap.”

“One part of my district in Roxbury to Back Bay there’s a 33-year difference in life expectancy. That’s in a city that has some of the best – the best health care institutions in the country,” Jackson said, prescribing approaches to address that gap that include greater spending on Boston Public Schools, pre-kindergarten education, expanding employment opportunities for people with criminal records and encouraging Boston institutions to hire and purchase services from within Boston.

Asked if he would rule out a mayoral run, Jackson said, “I am focused on the current job that I have. There is much to do.”

A critic of Walsh’s abandoned bid for the 2024 Summer Games and the Walsh administration’s approach to the public school system, Jackson has generated speculation that he might launch a mayoral challenge in a city that has favored incumbency over the decades.

“I’m encouraged by all of those folks who believe in me and have given me encouraging words about the current job that I have and also maybe any opportunities in the future,” Jackson said.

By one traditional measure of electoral ambitions and prospects, Jackson’s fundraising has yet to show signs of ramping up to the level that might be required to challenge a sitting mayor.

Through Aug. 15, the Roxbury councilor had $12,461 in his campaign account, while Mayor Walsh’s account held $1.5 million, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

— Written by Andy Metzger

Copyright State House News Service