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Walsh kicks off ‘Mondays with the Mayor’ sessions

In Brighton, he hears concerns about charter schools, finances, a crosswalk

Mayor Martin J. Walsh turned to the interim transportation commissioner, Jim Gillooly, to respond to a concern about a crosswalk during “Mondays with the Mayor.” The town hall question-and-answer session was held at a school in Brighton.

Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh turned to the interim transportation commissioner, Jim Gillooly, to respond to a concern about a crosswalk during “Mondays with the Mayor.” The town hall question-and-answer session was held at a school in Brighton.

One woman asked about what city government can do to stop the financial squeeze on Boston’s middle-class families. A man wanted to know why there was still no crosswalk on Cambridge Street after a 12-year-old boy had been killed.

And the father of a Little Leaguer lamented that dogs used the local baseball diamond as a latrine, and he was sick of scraping off the bottom of the boys’ cleats.

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh took City Hall to Brighton Monday night, bringing dozens of top aides to a high school auditorium to field inquiries from residents. The 90-minute question-and-answer-session started with a bang, when education advocate Karen Kast-McBride stepped to the microphone first.

Kast-McBride was armed with a petition she said was signed by 2,500 people against a bill that would lift a state-
imposed cap on charter school enrollment. Kast-McBride told Walsh that last year, during the race for mayor, he had said he was against lifting the cap on charter schools until all the inequalities in the Boston public schools had been addressed.

“I’m asking you now whether you are going to keep to that,” Kast-McBride said.

“I’ll be very clear in my position,” Walsh said. “I am a pro-charter school person.”

Walsh said he had not read the final version of the bill, so he could not say whether he supported the entire measure, although he was in favor of parts. He also pushed back against Kast-McBride’s recollection of their conversation.

“I don’t know if I ever said I wouldn’t advocate for lifting the cap,” Walsh said. “But I did say I would try and address all the inequalities.”

The forum was the first of a series of town hall meetings that Walsh’s administration dubbed “Mondays with the Mayor.” The event was a reprise from last year’s mayoral race, when Walsh held 14 similar question-and-answer sessions he called “Mondays with Marty.”

“We want to make sure we keep the people of Boston engaged in the discussion,” Walsh told the crowd.

The event Monday night was held at a public high school in Brighton named Another Course to College, and was attended by about 250 people, which included a large contingent from Walsh’s administration.

Walsh responded to most questions and often turned to his Cabinet chiefs and city department heads for more detailed answers. He asked Jim Gillooly, the interim transportation commissioner, to address the crosswalk on Cambridge Street and Sheila Dillon, city housing chief, to talk about the push for middle-class housing.

But there was a question that only Walsh could answer from Galen Mook, a bicycling advocate concerned with the number of accidents in Allston-Brighton. Mook asked the mayor to go for a bike ride with him.

“Just go slow,” Walsh quipped.

“I’ll bring out my cruiser,” Mook said. “So that’s a yes?”

“I will,” Walsh said.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.
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