Election Heats Up with Only Weeks to Go
Candidates Tackle Education and Campaign Spending
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 23:10
In the final weeks before the Nov. 5 election, candidates John Connolly, BC Law ’01, and Marty Walsh, BC ’09, have begun to spar on key elements of their campaigns, namely, the potential influence of outside spending on elections.
Connolly has repeatedly called for Walsh to sign the “People’s Pledge” against accepting funds spent by outside interests on a candidate’s behalf. The pledge attempts to curtail the financial influence of political action committees, special interests, and labor unions, groups that can spend money directly to dodge campaign contribution limits stipulated by federal election laws. When signing the pledge, candidates agree to ask outside groups not to spend money on their behalf, and donate a matching amount to charity if a group does so.
In August, Connolly accepted the endorsement of the education advocacy group Stand For Children, but told them not to spend $500,000 on his behalf. Walsh, on the other hand, has received over $750,000 in outside spending during the campaign, mostly from labor-affiliated groups such as American Working Families and Working America.
“We can have a race about my vision and Marty’s vision for Boston,” Connolly told supporters following his second-place finish in September’s preliminary election. “But to make sure we have this kind of campaign, one that’s not warped by special interests or private agendas, we need to follow the example set by past campaigns here in Massachusetts and put a stop to spending by outside groups.”
Walsh responded by questioning Connolly’s consistency on the issue, pointing out that his opponent initially called the pledge a “political gimmick” and accepted outside money prior to changing his stance in August.
Another central focus of the election has been education, a cornerstone issue for the Connolly campaign. Connolly, prior to becoming an attorney, was a middle school teacher, and has continually pushed for extended school days and smaller school bureaucracies to better use funds for improving education.
Now, Walsh too has unveiled education plans, announcing a proposal earlier this week that would work to decrease the number of students “falling through the cracks” in their first years of high school and increase parents’ involvement in education.
Both Walsh and Connolly will have the opportunity to outline their platforms for education, as well as other issues that the city faces going forward, in an upcoming series of televised debates. After initially settling on three debates beginning Oct. 15, the candidates later agreed to a fourth debate focused on diversity at the behest of a coalition of civil rights groups and community organizations.
The coalition, which included the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston branch of the NAACP, told Boston.com that the additional debate will ensure that issues such as equitable city services, persistent achievement gaps, and disproportionate levels of neighborhood crime will receive attention in the election.
The debate could also provide both candidates with a platform to reach out to diverse Boston neighborhoods that did not support them in the preliminary election. Walsh was already given a boost in recent days with regard to garnering minority votes, as former candidates Felix Arroyo and John Barros announced that they will endorse him in the final election, encouraging their backers to transfer support to Walsh.
The latest poll released by The Boston Herald and Suffolk University shows that Connolly leads Walsh by seven points—41 percent to 34 percent—with 23 percent of the 600 likely voters surveyed remaining undecided.
Of note is that, in the lead-up to the preliminary election, a Suffolk poll that pitted the two candidates head-to-head showed Connolly leading Walsh 44 percent to 29 percent, according to Boston.com. In the actual preliminary election, Walsh finished first with 18.5 percent of the vote, followed closely by Connolly with 17.2 percent.
The school bus strike that disrupted the commute for 57,000 Boston public school students Tuesday was one issue mayoral candidates. could agree on.
Both men, the final two candidates in the race to succeed outgoing Mayor Thomas M. Menino, denounced the bus drivers’ union, criticizing the politicization of innocent childrens’ educations.