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Boston mayoral candidates on the issues

Councilor John R. Connolly (left) and state Representative Martin J. Walsh.

Globe photos/File

Councilor John R. Connolly (left) and state Representative Martin J. Walsh.

Admit it. You spent too much time last month growing your playoff beard, staying up late to cheer on the Sox, or maybe just scarfing down all that leftover Halloween candy. The result: Those well-intentioned plans to pay attention to Boston’s first open mayoral race in decades just didn’t pan out. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered before you cast your vote on Tuesday. Here’s a quick primer on where the two candidates, John R. Connolly and Martin J. Walsh, stand on a few key issues. Complete coverage of the mayor’s race, including biographies and breaking news on the race, can be found at


Councilor John R. Connolly

Connolly, a former teacher who has made education the primary issue of his campaign, says he would slim down what he calls a dysfunctional centralized school bureaucracy, devoting the saved resources to the classroom. He would try to collaborate with the Boston Teachers Union, but is keen on upending the status quo. His priorities include extended school days for students and opening schools at night to provide adult and English-language education.

Representative Martin J. Walsh

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Walsh offers a more conciliatory approach to school reform, saying that change can be accomplished without locking horns with the powerful teachers union. “They’re a big part of the solution,” Walsh has said. Among his priorities: universal access to prekindergarten, strengthening vocational-track programs in high schools, and creating ninth and 10th grade “academies” to boost all students up to educational standards by 11th grade.


Councilor John R. Connolly

Connolly believes public safety and education are linked. Among his safety proposals: establishing a law enforcement career track at Madison Park Technical High School to help increase diversity in the police force; convening a citywide summit that brings together victims of gun violence and those trying to leave gangs; creating an office of recovery services for those overcoming addictions; and emphasizing community policing with officers “knocking on doors like politicians and introducing themselves to neighbors.”

Representative Martin J. Walsh

Walsh wants to increase diversity in the police force, expand community policing, and enlarge alternative programs for nonviolent offenders. Walsh says he would create a committee to look at Boston’s public safety policies and bring in best practices from other cities. He supports “systemic changes” to help decrease violence against women, such as expanding discussion of domestic violence in school curriculums. Walsh also wants to expand efforts to combat human trafficking.


Councilor John R. Connolly

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In a recent debate, Connolly would not say how he would vote on the issue if he lived in East Boston. He has long maintained that the decision should be left to local residents. He has called the last-minute withdrawal of Caesars Entertainment as a partner “troubling.”

Representative Martin J. Walsh

Walsh has said that if he lived in East Boston he would support the casino proposal. But ultimately, Walsh says, it is up to the people of East Boston to make the decision. He has called the last-minute withdrawal of Caesars Entertainment “disturbing.”


Councilor John R. Connolly

Connolly would leave the BRA intact, but would pursue greater transparency, term limits for board members, and a separation of the agency’s planning and development arms. He would like to see the planning arm of the authority prioritize more residential projects near transit stops.

Representative Martin J. Walsh

Walsh would abolish the BRA, replacing it with an agency that he says would be more efficient and transparent. Its board members would have term limits. The City Council would oversee the agency, which would have separate branches for research/planning and development.


Councilor John R. Connolly

Connolly wants to extend the MBTA’s hours, saying that its early shutdown time hurts Boston’s economy. He has not been specific about how late the T should run, saying residents should weigh in. He has suggested the T could fund extended service with private-sector partnerships. He supports later hours for bars and clubs in certain neighborhoods, and would allow “happy hour” promotions.

Representative Martin J. Walsh

Walsh supports late-night T service and has said his time in the Legislature would help him secure state funding for the potentially expensive change. Walsh backs augmenting state funding with public-private partnerships. Walsh does not support allowing “happy hour” at bars, but does want a later closing time. He has said the city should refocus on downtown, which is busy during the day but quiet at night.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place at or call 617-727-2828 or 800-462-8683.

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