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Jackson Calls For Inclusiveness In Kicking Off Boston Mayoral Campaign03:34
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Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson announces his mayoral candidacy in Dudley Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson announces his mayoral candidacy in Dudley Square. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Saying he has a broader vision for Boston than Mayor Marty Walsh, City Councilor Tito Jackson on Thursday formally announced his bid to unset Walsh in November.

Jackson rallied his supporters with some pointed shots at Walsh, and a call, or a chant really, for more inclusiveness.

"We are..." Jackson said, and his supporters yelled, "Boston!"

That's my campaign theme, Jackson told dozens of supporters outside Haley House in Roxbury, as he outlined plans to boost education spending, reduce income inequality, and create jobs.

"We seem to be judging our success by the number of million-dollar condos [and] skyscrapers, rather than the mobility of our families and the percentage of them who are managing to escape poverty," Jackson said. "Can a brother get an amen?"

Jackson frequently took aim at several issues, such as the incentives offered to GE to move its headquarters to Boston's Seaport District — incentives, he said, that were offered at the expense of public education. He also criticized Walsh's involvement in the city's failed bid for the Olympics and Walsh's decision in 2014 to shut down the bridge to Long Island, closing the city's largest homeless shelter and some social service agencies.

These issues, Jackson said, caused him to be disappointed in Walsh, although he had been a Walsh supporter and friend. But, he said, he's disappointed no more.

"Instead of being disappointed I'm actually stepping up and I'm acting and I'm running for mayor of the city of Boston," Jackson said, "and in November 2017 we will be successful and we will prioritize the things that working people in the city of Boston need, want and deserve."

Shortly before Jackson's announcement, Walsh was asked about his new challenger. It's still early, Walsh said, as the time to file papers to run is months away. But he said he's proud of his record and he feels he has been inclusive — increasing diversity on the city's police force and in his cabinet.

Walsh also said he talked with Jackson after he learned that Jackson was running.

"I spoke to him yesterday on the phone and we had a good conversation," Walsh said. "We're friends. I respect the councilor and he's done some great work as a member of the council. I asked him, let's keep this race clean and remember that at the end of the day, Boston is the best city in the world and we want to keep it that way."

Jackson has been a councilor since he won a special election in 2011. His district includes Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway neighborhoods. Jackson is 41 years old, and like Walsh not married.

And Jackson has a compelling personal story that he highlighted Thursday. His mother was 13 when he was born, having become pregnant after she was sexually assaulted. She immediately put up Jackson for adoption and he was taken in by Rosa and Herb Jackson — well known for their activism in Boston.

The social worker who placed him with the Jacksons for adoption, Marilyn Anderson Chase, has kept in touch with him and was in the crowd Thursday.

"He's always been a go-getter, he's always had a sense of humor, but he's always had a drive," she said.

The odds are against Jackson in this race. No one has beaten an incumbent Boston mayor since 1949. And Walsh has more than $3 million in his campaign chest. So far, Jackson has less than $100,000.

With reporting by WBUR's Zeninjor Enwemeka 

This segment aired on January 13, 2017.

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Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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