Metro

Former city councilor John Connolly to back Marty Walsh for mayor

Mayor Marty Walsh.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Mayor Marty Walsh.

Four years ago, they were old friends turned rivals in a heated contest to succeed former five-term mayor Thomas M. Menino.

But now former city councilor John Connolly is backing Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Connolly, who will endorse Walsh Saturday in West Roxbury, praised the mayor for the job he’s done and said that Walsh has “more than earned his second term.”

“Mayor Walsh has spent four years putting our children and families first,’’ said Connolly, who is now the executive director of 1647, a nonprofit that works with schools to involve families in education. “It’s hard work moving our schools forward, and I think Marty is committed to doing that work and creating opportunities for all children in Boston.”

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In response, the mayor highlighted Connolly’s dedication to “improving education and opportunity for every child in Boston.”

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“It has been a privilege to work alongside leaders like John over the past decade as we’ve worked to improve our schools so that every child in Boston has access to the best education possible,’’ the mayor said in a statement.

Councilor Tito Jackson, a former council colleague of Connolly who is challenging Walsh in the election, said he is not surprised that the political establishment is closing ranks, adding that his campaign’s vision “firmly on the side of ordinary people makes the powerful uncomfortable.”

“I am proud to be the truly progressive choice in this election,” the councilor said, noting his plan to address education and affordable housing. “And I am the only candidate willing to return power back to Boston residents from an overly powerful mayorship because I believe it is finally time for the cradle of democracy to live up to its democratic ideals.”

After Connolly’s loss, he put the election behind him and vanished from the political scene.

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He re-emerged in 2015, after Walsh’s first state of the city, and told news personality Jim Braude that Walsh was doing well in the job.

“Mayor Walsh is a friend of mine, and I want to see him do great things,” said Connolly at the time, according to published reports.

Walsh has recently picked up the endorsements of US Senator Elizabeth Warren, Attorney General Maura Healey, and state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

Jackson, lagging in endorsements, was backed recently by author and children’s advocate Jonathan Kozol, who called the councilor “one of the most decent and most forceful and far-sighted civic leaders in our city’s often-troubled history.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.