By Wesley Hauptman 9-19-13
Tonight was the last chance for Boston’s Mayoral candidates to confront each other before Tuesday’s primary election. The scene was UMass Boston and the topics included the wide wage gap, lack of job opportunities for Bostonians, and improvement of education.
The night began when the candidates briefly introduced themselves. Each took the opportunity to share some interesting facts about themselves. Felix Arroyo talked about growing up poor in Boston, saying, “I know what it’s like to use your oven for heat.” Next was Charles Clemons who owns the radio station Touch 106.1 FM. He described his jobs as a Boston cop and corrections officer for many years before his attempt to gain public office. Arguably, the most memorable self-introduction weent to Michael Ross who made his social beliefs about marriage equality known in mentioning his openly-gay mother.
Education, and ways to make it more accessible and useful to Bostonians was the first important subject of the night. Candidate Bill Walczak was particularly vocal, insisting that one of the schools’ priorities should be improvement of the food they serve.
“Breakfast in some of these schools is French toast dipped in corn syrup,” he stated. He moved on to the failings of the local community colleges, noting that they aren’t doing students any favors by not offering classes appropriate for currently-available jobs.
Ross was also a vocal advocate of education reform. He declared a need to reopen night classes in Madison Park High School and suggested offering college-level classes in high schools that might later help students save money on college tuition.
The biggest question of the night was whether having a casino in the city was a smart idea. All of the candidates except for Marty Walsh are completely against the idea. The majority raised concerns about if a casino would increase crime and addiction. However, Walsh believes the addiction aspect could be handled if the casino had limits on slot machines and posted advertisements for Gamblers Anonymous.
This Tuesday Boston voters will choose two final candidates who will be in a run-off election on November 5. UMass Boston will host a mayoral forum for those two candidates on Wednesday, October 9.