BOSTON — Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh laid out some priorities the day after his election. WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke about what Walsh was saying Wednesday and how he pulled off his victory with WBUR’s political reporter Fred Thys.
Sacha Pfeiffer: So, Fred, today, was Walsh giving a sense that we’re going to see a lot of change under his administration?
Fred Thys: You know, we’re hearing with him that he’s just a regular guy, he’s a very down-to-earth guy. I’ve covered him on-and-off for the last few years and always saw him to be a very direct guy. But over the course of the mayoral campaign I have really been pleasantly surprised just by what kind of a regular guy he is, and here he is talking to us about what it means to him to be the new mayor-elect:
It didn’t really hit me until this morning that I was the mayor-elect of the city of Boston. When I was getting dressed and I walked out and I looked at Lorrie and she goes, “Oh my God, you’re going to be the mayor.”
Now, Lorrie, of course, is his longtime girlfriend with whom, basically, he’s helped raise her daughter. Sounds like he’s still in a state of wonderment, so we’re still waiting to hear what new might happen. Has he at least given any indications as to how he will staff his administration?
He said he would announce the chairman of his transition team on Friday. He says the transition team will reflect the city. But he says he’s not thought yet about one of his big appointments to come, which is who will be his police commissioner, didn’t say anything about the coming school superintendent, and he says he hasn’t even thought yet about who’s going to be his chief of staff.
I know that after the last debate, he did say he considered the school superintendent the most important decision he will make, at least initially, and we should note that I believe, today, Mayor Menino allocated $50,000 for a transition office. Now, Walsh met with Menino this morning. What did he say about whatever advice the mayor may have given him?
Well, you know, when you win an election everybody wants to be your buddy, right? And this is where Mayor Menino said to Marty Walsh, “Beware.”
Said Walsh: “He just basically said, you know, a lot of people are going to be coming at you, you have a lot of friends now, he said just, you know, be careful and move forward and, you know, he said always keep the residents of the city of Boston number one.”
Along with Walsh’s election, East Boston voters resoundingly reject a casino in East Boston. Did Walsh address today how he will proceed on that front?
During the campaign he promised to honor the wishes of East Boston on the casino and today he reiterated that promise.
So, still in limbo, more or less, as we see how…
Well, no, basically saying that they don’t want it so, that’s it.
OK. He also pushed, during the campaign, for more charter schools. Did he address education issues today?
Yeah, you know, he did. He was asked if he would push for more charter schools and he said yes and this puts him at odds with the Boston Teachers Union because they have now played a key role in this election. They sent out a robo call yesterday urging teachers to support him even though officially they said they weren’t endorsing either Walsh or John Connolly. And I was struck by the fact that at the polls yesterday teachers did seem to have come out in support of Walsh against Connolly and they’ve mentioned that it was in part because Connolly had promised to reform the schools by giving principals more autonomy and dismantling the central administration of the schools. So now Walsh is at odds with the teachers because he does support more charter schools and he has said that he supports a longer school day. These are things that the teachers union has opposed in the past, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he resolves that.
So, ultimately, the teachers union may have played a role in his election. What other pieces came together that made Walsh ultimately win this?
Last night, Marty Walsh spoke to President Obama, among many other people. President Obama called to congratulate him and he said this morning that the president complimented him on his field organization. Marty Walsh had 6,000 volunteers yesterday. I was in Savin Hill as some of them were commenting on how they were actually chasing people as they pulled into their driveways, asking them, ‘Hey, have you voted?’ There’s been huge union support for one of their own in this race and where that seemed to make a difference is that Walsh and his labor allies were able to reach more voters in the weeks leading up to the election than John Connolly was. But then he really did reach beyond his base, right? I mean, it wasn’t just Dorchester and South Boston, you can see on a map how he really broadened his reach into Roxbury, Hyde Park, other parts of the city, and so really had a kind of broad base as he went into this election.