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Jackson, Walsh debate live from Dudley Square

Contrasting assessments of Walsh's first term

10/11/2017, 10:56 p.m.
Mayor Martin Walsh and District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson clashed over issues of police accountability, economic development and education ...
Martin Walsh, Adrian Walker, Tito Jackson Banner photo

Jule Pattison-Gordon & Yawu Miller

Mayor Martin Walsh and District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson clashed over issues of police accountability, economic development and education in the first of two debates scheduled before the Nov. 7 general election.

In Walsh’s assessment of his first term in office, his administration has invested more in schools than ever before, built more affordable housing than at any time in recent history and presided over a police department lauded by former President Barack Obama for its community policing work.

“We’re creating opportunities in every neighborhood,” Walsh said, speaking of the city’s unprecedented construction boom.

To hear Jackson tell it, Walsh has cut schools by $142 million, refused to implement simple police reforms like body-worn cameras embraced by other major U.S. cities and facilitated the development of luxury condominium projects unaffordable to most Boston residents.

“This administration put forward an idea to have a helicopter pad built on your dime [for General Electric] and actually the same night that that helipad was being proposed, this administration was closing the Mattahunt school in Mattapan,” Jackson said.

While Jackson and Walsh appeared at candidates forums last week, last night’s debate marked the first time the two have gone head-to-head in a debate with rebuttals. Questions on economic and racial inequality figured prominently in the debate, sponsored by the RoxVOTE Coalition and moderated by Adrian Walker of The Boston Globe.

Policing and safety

Jackson said he would achieve a police department more reflective of the city population, and he assailed Walsh on lacking diversity in police and fire, noting that 75 percent of new police officers and 90 percent of firefighters hired under Walsh were white.

Jackson criticized the 4 percent arrest rate for non-fatal shootings, while Walsh said even that represents a 21 percent increase in the clearance rate for such crimes.

To deter violence, Jackson said he would find ways to engage youth in other activities, including creating 5,000 youth summer jobs and 1,000 year-round youth jobs as well as reopening the Grove Hall Community center. He called for return of more locally-focused police and for creation of a more powerful civilian review board, something that body had recommended.

Walsh refrained from committing to implementing body cameras and said that he instead improved safety by using peace walks, informational meetings with clergy and community leaders and greater command staff diversity to build trust.

Economics

Walsh said the city’s unemployment rate declined in Boston, but acknowledged that Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan still have higher unemployment rates than is the citywide average. He said one way he helped was by increasing the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, while Jackson said these requirements for hiring local often are not enforced and asserted that less than 2 percent of city contracts go to people of color. Walsh defended pursuit of companies like G.E. and Amazon saying that when such companies locate in the city, they create a number of jobs for Boston residents thus helping to build local wealth. Meanwhile, Jackson said the city should not use resources to lure large for-profit companies, asserting that he would offer nothing to entice Amazon to locate its second headquarters here.