There’s a large group of underrepresented people with a lot at stake in Boston’s mayoral election — those who live just outside the city.
It may be sacrilegious to say as a Cambridge city councilor, but when I was on a fellowship in Europe last summer and told people I was from Cambridge, they assumed it was the one in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t until I mentioned Boston that people understood where I lived. Of course, the distinctiveness and hyperlocal nature of New England’s cities and towns make this region a unique place to live. But to the rest of the world, we are all Bostonians.
Though the mayoral candidates are vying only for the votes of Bostonians, their actions will impact citizens far beyond the bounds of Beantown. While more than 4½ million live within Boston’s metro area, only 700,000 live within the city proper. If you laid New York City on top of Boston, it would stretch well out past Interstate 95.
From our economy to our culture, the futures of Boston, Cambridge, and other cities and towns in the area are intertwined. The next mayor needs to prioritize regional collaboration. We can’t afford a mayor who doesn’t see Boston in a regional, national, and global context. We’re competing as a region with cities around the globe, some much larger in terms of population, resources, and economy.
We also need to harness our collective resources so that we can better compete on the world stage. According to the World Class Cities Partnership at Northeastern University, Boston loses more college students to New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and other cities than it retains. If we compete against each other in the innovation sector, we risk getting stuck in a race to the bottom instead of retaining the talent that we have developed.
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