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Walsh Becomes Boston’s New Mayor

New mayor Martin Walsh waves to the crowd while taking the stage during his inauguration ceremony at Boston College’s Conte Forum. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

New mayor Martin Walsh waves to the crowd while taking the stage during his inauguration ceremony at Boston College’s Conte Forum. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — Marty Walsh became Boston’s first new mayor in 20 years in a ceremony Monday morning that mixed tradition, a celebration of his Irish roots and the diverse Boston he promises to embrace.

Walsh began his inaugural address with a concise promise: “I will listen. I will learn. I will lead.”

He also promised to pay attention to the entire city.

“We are a City Upon a Hill, but it’s not just the shining light of Beacon Hill,” Walsh said. “It’s Savin Hill, where I live. It’s Bunker Hill, Bellevue Hill and Fort Hill. It’s Pope’s Hill, Jones Hill and Telegraph Hill. It’s Copp’s Hill, Mission Hill and Eagle Hill.”

Like New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, Walsh promised to address inequality in the city.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has a little fun with the new mayor while he is performing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has a little fun with the new mayor while performing. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“We cannot tolerate a city divided by privilege and poverty,” Walsh said.

Walsh outlined four priorities:

Strengthening our economy and creating jobs, improving public safety and stopping senseless gun violence, ensuring our schools help every child to succeed, and increasing trust and transparency in city government.

Walsh promised to bring a new support to victims of gun violence and their families.

“Imagine if these kids, these parents had people to help them in times of trauma,” Walsh said. “Health care professionals and community members serving as volunteers, answering the call whenever a life — and with it, a family and a neighborhood — is torn by violent crime.”

One of Walsh’s most surprising proposals: a performance audit of the Boston Public Schools.

“Education spending is the biggest piece of our city budget,” he said. “So we start with this principle: Every dollar we spend on education must be put to best and most effective use. That’s why I will work with the school committee and acting superintendent to commission a performance audit of our school department — a close look not just at where the money is going, but whether it is being spent most effectively and efficiently.”

The most surprising crowd response to Walsh’s inaugural address came when he promised to restructure the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

“I am committed to restructuring the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and to bring together a smart, rational, effective way so all the parts of city government work for the consumer and for the business community,” he said.

That remark by Walsh earned him one of the loudest applauses of his inauguration. It may have been a reflection of the frustration with the BRA people in Boston’s neighborhoods have felt over the years.

At several points, Walsh made his address personal. He promised, for example, to revitalize the Strand Theatre. He recalled:

The Strand is part of my family’s history — a place I walked past countless times as a kid, going to Uphams Corner. And just recently, I began and ended my own campaign for mayor within its storied walls. Now, as the Strand approaches its 100th anniversary, it can once again be an economic engine for the neighborhood, an education resource for our teens, and a new performance and gathering spot for our entire city.

Toward the end of his address, Walsh recognized that all in all, the city he is inheriting is in good shape. For that, he expressed his gratitude toward Boston’s outgoing longtime mayor, Thomas Menino, saying: “His legacy is already legend and his vision is all around us.”

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