For Mayor: Vote Flaherty + Yoon

Boston District City Council: Henriquez, Ross, ciommo, LaMattina
By EDITORIAL  |  November 4, 2009

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Boston’s mayoral candidates are running campaigns that are variations on a theme.

Incumbent Thomas Menino, who has held the job for 16 years — longer than anyone in history — says that if you think the city is on the right track, vote Menino. 

Last week the Phoenix endorsed incumbents John Connolly and Stephen Murphy, as well as newcomers Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo, for the at-large City Council seats. Read that Editorial here.

Challenger Michael Flaherty, a veteran of nine years on the Boston City Council, says that if you think the city can do better by being viewed through a new lens, vote Flaherty.

The disagreement is not about civic ends. Menino and Flaherty want the same things: better schools, improved public safety, sustainable economic development, accessible parks, affordable housing, livable neighborhoods. To win the November 3 election, both candidates may go so far as to endorse motherhood — perhaps, if the polls get really close, apple pie.

An essentially shared vision of what Boston should be has not prevented the Menino and Flaherty camps from trying to bash in each other’s brains. As a result, the 2009 campaign has been the most fractious in recent memory. Politics is Boston’s true blood sport. And personality, not policy, is the issue that unites and divides.

Rest assured, before Election Day there will be intimations that someone is a scoundrel. But no election would be complete without a little high blood pressure.

Menino’s camp says voters should continue to trust in the highly centralized and often micro-managed City Hall that gets things done.

Flaherty’s campaign says that even more could be accomplished if the mayor listened, dictated less, and attracted fresh blood and vibrant, new ideas.

The Phoenix agrees with Flaherty.

As a newspaper that believes stagnation of leadership results in lost opportunities to advance, we are impressed with Flaherty’s commitment to shake things up.

Flaherty’s designation of onetime mayoral opponent City Councilor Sam Yoon (who received this paper’s endorsement in the primary) as his would-be deputy mayor was a creative move. It was certainly politically savvy to tap into Yoon’s troops of Obama-style grassroots voters. By doing so, Flaherty not only demonstrated that he can think expansively as well as practically, but that he is open to ideas from even those who have challenged his own thinking.

Flaherty has adopted Yoon’s idea to place an eight-year term limit on the mayoralty, thus tapping into the sense of many that no one should be able to be considered mayor for life. Menino had said in the past that he would serve only two terms. Things have obviously changed. If there is a fifth, will there be a sixth? (Come on, Mr. Mayor, this is Boston, not the Vatican.)

Flaherty’s proposal to reconstruct the Boston Redevelopment Authority in order to bring greater transparency to building in Boston, while at the same time making it more neighborhood-friendly, is solid.

His plan to increase the number of charter schools and give school principals more authority over their own budgets is in line with his talk of decentralization.

Flaherty recognizes the vital role that the arts and other creative communities play in developing the intellectual and the economic life of the city — a point of view this paper has trumpeted for years.

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