And as always, I realize these endorsements, at best, affect my vote. Anyway, tomorrow Bostonians will elect a new mayor–the first in twenty years–and many new councilmen. Here are my endorsements:
Martin Walsh for Mayor: This is primarily a vote against John Connolly, as opposed to a ringing endorsement for Walsh, though Walsh’s experience in the State Legislature could mean that Boston, along with neighboring towns might actually have a stronger (or at least not incredibly weak) presence on the hill (Boston’s Home Rule isn’t as bad as Washington D.C.’s, but there are a lot of things we can’t control, from alcohol licenses to garbage pickup times).
But the major factor is education policy. This might come as a surprise since Connolly has been selling himself as the education candidate. From my perspective, his concern about education policy is similar to JPMorgan’s concern about financial regulation: they are very concerned about these things, but their concerns aren’t in your best interest. Connolly is a favorite of education ‘reformer’ Michelle Rhee–which pretty much tells you all you need to know. Walsh does support charter schools, but he is better, as Connolly is the only councilman to vote against the new school districting program which emphasizes neighborhood schools, but still gives children who live in poor neighborhoods a chance to attend good schools:
His opposition to the new school choice plan along with his neighborhood school plan would essentially mean that no low-income or minority children would ever have access to good schools (I’ve described how this would happen here). In addition, property values would become tied to the local school (the ‘quality’ of which, like all schools, is primarily determined by the poverty and English-speaking status of the student body)… in every city where this has happened, property values in wealthy neighborhoods have skyrocketed, as parents attempt to buy their way into good schools. At the same time, middle-class neighborhoods and neighborhoods that have been improving see property values drop and the quality of life in the neighborhood collapses.
The accidental genius of the desegregation order, even though it’s expensive is that it decoupled housing prices from school quality. In most places, city and suburb, there is an incredibly strong connection between the two. This would devastate those neighborhoods that are just starting to turn around, and make other neighborhoods unaffordable for the upper-middle class (never mind the middle class). So this matters even if you don’t have kids in the schools.
Josh Zakim for District 8: Since we’re on the the subject of schools, I’ll skip to the District 8 election. Having been to the recent Nichols-Zakim debate, Michael Nichols isn’t bad (his desire to keep Boston affordable for the middle class appears genuine), but Zakim is better on the issues. Nichols wants to eliminate the school busing program to save money. Busing is expensive, but how else are schoolkids supposed to get to good schools under the new districting plan? This seems like a back door route to what Connolly wants. Nichols, for his claims of being data-driven, is staggering unaware of how housing prices are affected by education (and proclaiming we need better schools everywhere doesn’t cut it–a huge determinant of test scores is household income). The cost of the busing program is worth the gains to Boston.
The other strong point for Zakim is that he recognized the need for stronger representation on the hill, referring to an “Urban Coalition.” His endorsement by the state representative for District 8 will help. Zakim is also a supporter of all public schools. And don’t buy the garbage the Boston Dig has been slinging: Zakim isn’t a corporate shill, he’s a Legal Aid attorney who has successfully taken on large banks to help homeowners getting screwed by those same banks.
At large councilmen: Annissa Essaibi George, Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu, Stephen Murphy. Annissa Essaibi George is an East Boston schoolteacher–it’s time someone who works with children on a daily basis is part of the council. Ayanna Pressley and Stephen Murphy in the last session cast good votes, especially on education and should be rewarded. Pressley has also been involved in Home Rule issues. Michelle Wu–the more I learn, the more I like. She’s the guardian of a student in the regular–her word–public schools. She’s committed to the regular public schools, and also has a lot of interesting quality-of-life recommendations. She would be a very good change.
You can find your polling station here.