Mayor’s race: Candidates talk plans for keeping young people in Boston

boston city hall government center
Boston City Hall.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Voters in Boston will head to the polls on Tuesday to narrow the field of candidates in the mayor’s race before the general election in November. 

With 12 candidates vying to become the next mayor of Boston and pitching a countless number of proposals, Metro posed the same question to each of the candidates in an attempt to get a clearer understanding on an issue important to our readers. Their entire responses are below.

Metro asked each candidate “How would you make Boston affordable and attractive to young people so that they can become residents of and contributors to the city?”

City Councilor Felix Arroyo: I believe in a Boston where everyone has opportunities to succeed. We must commit to affordable housing, good jobs, and an improved public transportation system with extended hours so young people want to stay and can make a life in Boston. As a Councilor, I am proud that we passed my “Invest in Boston” ordinance this week that will support small businesses and promote entrepreneurship, creating more jobs for young people and all residents in Boston.

Former Boston School Committee member John Barros: Thanks, Metro, this is a great and tremendously important question. We have to make Boston both affordable and attractive to young people; these are the folks that are growing our economy, growing our arts and cultural sectors and who are going to be the next generation of homeowners, parents and partners in keeping Boston a center of innovation.

Within every area of policy, we need to consider the impact on young people. I have done that, let me give you a few examples. In housing, I have both a track record and a vision for creating housing which is affordable to people from all income levels. We need a good mix of housing stock and options so that the nurses aides as well as the surgeons at our world-class hospitals can all live in town. We need a mix so that our entry-level tech sector workers can live the same city as their CEO entrepreneur bosses. This is healthy for neighborhoods, and for our economy — and it directly benefits young people. Creating a mix of good housing options is also something that I’ve done in Roxbury and Dorchester, and am ready to do in the South End, in East Boston, in Chinatown and all the other neighborhoods of Boston. While we do this, we’ll also be investing new resources into our arts and cultural sectors; growing Boston’s creative economy to make sure that our artists and our makers and our arts institutions are all well supported and able to keep contributing to the vitality of our city. This will allow us to improve Boston’s social scene and nightlife. Both affordable housing and enhancing our social scene must be supported by an comprehensive transit plan that provides extended hour and better services to different parts of our City.

What else do your young readers want in the future of our great city? Email me at john@barrosforboston.com and tell me your ideas!

City Councilor John Connolly: I want young people who grew up here – and those who move here for college or in their twenties – to enjoy a fun, vibrant city rich in cultural and recreational opportunities. I will prioritize middle market housing, extend MBTA hours for people working late or enjoying a night out, encourage pop-up art galleries and storefront theater, and support later hours for businesses like gyms, coffee shops, and restaurants.

Codman Square Health Center founder Bill Walczak: I believe making Boston affordable and attractive to young people starts with empowering and involving them in the governmental process. We have a tremendous resource in our young people who come from every corner of the world to our city. They have as much to contribute to making our city great as anyone living in Boston. I also want to ensure that we don’t just accept students into this city without allowing them to be part of their communities who would benefit from their contributions. I plan to create a Chief Service Officer position in the mayors office to utilize our great resources to tutor young people coming through our public high schools.

A second part would be to improve and expand affordable housing in the area. We cannot settle for teaching the world’s future leaders and sending them back to their home states and countries. People come to Boston for a reason. We must give our young people the option to stay in this city, build businesses, and lead our city.

Finally, we need to make sure that young service workers and those who are enjoying the diverse night life options that stimulate our economy have more affordable and safe options of getting home late at night. That is why I support 24-hour transit options instead of the frustrating, unaffordable, and sometimes unsafe alternatives of taxi service and walking home.

We also need to work to lift the ban on Happy Hour. Cities and small towns alike across the country have Happy Hour with no problem. It doesn’t make sense to me that a economic stimulating strategy that is wildly popular and implemented without problems in many other cities across the country still evades Boston. As mayor, I will bring Happy Hour back.

State Rep. Marty Walsh: Lack of affordable housing and jobs are the biggest impediments to talent retention.

In order to make housing in Boston more affordable, I plan to increase the supply throughout the city. This includes transit-oriented housing, affordable and co-op housing, and workforce housing throughout Boston that incentivizes home ownership. I plan to work with universities to encourage on-campus student housing in order to open up areas for residential housing. I will work to build affordable and workforce housing developments on currently unused public land. This can be done at a low price because there will be no cost to buy the land. I will also work with developers to create linkage funds for housing when they come into Boston. We also need to have well-paying jobs, which means recruiting more businesses to Boston. I will aggressively market Boston as a great place to grow a business. Boston’s universities are training a 21st century workforce, and we need to make sure there are 21st century jobs to keep them here.

Former Boston Public Schools teacher David James Wyatt: I have the best education credentials of the 12 candidates. Improving upon education in this school district should eliminate crime and attract the kinds of businesses to Boston that require a well-educated citizenry. Such businesses should employ our graduates and this lowers the tax burden on all of us.

*Candidates Charles Clemons, Dan Conley, Rob Consalvo, Charlotte Golar Richie, Mike Ross and Charles Yancey did not respond.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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