Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sounds like a man who plans to be in office for another term.
Walsh made "ending systemic racism" a centerpiece of his annual address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Tuesday and at one point said, "I don't want to be back here in this Chamber meeting three years from now, having this same conversation again. We must do more."
That Walsh envisions speaking to the Chamber in 2023 — by which time he hopes Boston will have made progress in combating racial inequality — suggests he will seek reelection in 2021.
But the mayor stopped short of explicitly confirming his candidacy during a live, virtual Q&A session that followed his taped remarks.
"Is it time for change or is there something you want to tell us today?" asked Chamber Chief Executive Jim Rooney, noting that city councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell already have entered the race.
"I'm not a person that likes to look down the road too much," Walsh said. "I don't know of any other time in the history of Boston or Massachusetts or our country that we've been faced with so many big, complicated issues, dilemmas, in front of us."
Walsh said his attention is on managing the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic and helping Democrats win elections in November.
"There'll be plenty of conversations and plenty of time to have debates and all that other stuff early next year, into next year," he added, "but, right now, I think it's important to stay focused on the job in front of us."
Walsh touted his administration's response to the pandemic but said there is still a lot of work to do, particularly because COVID-19 is disproportionately hurting people of color.
He spotlighted children with limited access to the technology they need for remote schooling, and called on the business community to help.
"We're going to need every single level of government, along with the private sector, to step up in a big way to find and fund solutions," he said. "It's not just an achievement gap in our schools; it's a skills gap in our future workforce."
"A child without a computer or internet at home needs a different level of engagement and investment than a child in a well-resourced home," he continued, "especially when you consider how likely it is that the same child also experiences systemic racism through housing insecurities, health inequities, and a host of other challenges."
Walsh did not put a dollar amount on the funding he hopes for.
If he does seek reelection next year, Walsh will be running against two women of color who say their firsthand experiences with injustice have forged important perspectives.
Campbell, who is Black, said when launching her campaign last week that Boston needs a leader who "has lived the systemic inequities facing our residents."
Wu, a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, said this at the outset of her campaign: "I've lived my whole life knowing what it's like to feel unseen and unheard."
A GBH/MassINC poll conducted this month showed Walsh with 46% support, compared with 23% for Wu and 4% for Campbell.
In what could be a show of confidence, despite the early polling, Wu and Campbell said through spokeswomen Tuesday that they will not hedge their mayoral ambitions by running for reelection to the City Council simultaneously.
Since the state Legislature has not approved the petition, Boston's election rules still allow candidates to run for mayor and councilor at once. But Wu and Campbell will give up their council seats to pursue the city's top job.
This article was originally published on September 29, 2020.