Dear Ms. Ayanna Pressley,
Boston needs you.
In roughly one year’s time, office-seeking residents will formulate and put into motion campaigns with the admirable hope of unseating Marty Walsh as Mayor of Boston.
I’m writing to you today to urge you to toss your hat into the municipal ring.
You probably don’t remember me and that’s okay. We’ve chatted a handful of times on city issues when I was a news reporter. It was clear to me then that you had the makings of a true political luminary, one who sought public servitude to increase the quality of life for all Bostonians — not just to reinforce the foundation of a formidable career as a politician.
It’s clearly not political aspirations that fuel the fire of your civic motivations. It’s doing good and being good. And that’s certainly lacking in the executive office of City Hall.
I had the pleasure of watching you introduce Mayor Walsh, who went on to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama, who in turn introduced former Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts Martha Coakley at a Strand Theatre fundraiser back in 2014.
You were truly electrifying, so much so that I swear I heard exaltations from Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Benjamin Franklin on the subject. The energy was palpable. Static was surging through the air.
That disappeared from a deflated speech from our incumbent mayor upon taking the stage, though the first lady was able to salvage some of the spirit.
Nevertheless, I took notice of your natural charisma, your oratory and your leadership. In fact, it was near impossible not to.
Let me be clear: I’m not brownnosing here; however, I think it’s important you realize the brand of dynamism that’s become your calling card. It would help carry a message sure to resonate with residents from East Boston to Hyde Park and everywhere in between.
I don’t doubt that Mayor Walsh has a deep-seated affection for the City of Boston and I believe he wants what’s best for those who dwell here. But he’s out of his element, unable to fully comprehend that he serves at the pleasure of the collective Boston public and not the other way around. Therein lies democracy, the supposed bedrock of our nation.
It’s increasingly self-evident that Mayor Walsh either comes out against overwhelming public opinion or is reactionary in his efforts to appease the masses.
Back in March I made an attempt at illuminating the areas I think the mayor has fallen sadly short, along the way alienating those who voted for him (myself included) and those most affected by the Grand Canyon-sized wealth disparity that only continues to grow.
In summary: he’s too accommodating to luxury housing developers, he’s bleeding the Boston Public Schools system dry, he’s botched dealings with Wynn Resorts and the United States Olympics Committee, he threw the homeless population out into the cold without a contingency plan, he’s razed crucial bridges, and his election ethics are uncomfortably murky.
In essence, it’s Walsh’s way or the potholed highway. But if he concedes even an iota on an issue, expect a half-baked solution.
Which brings me to my latest grievance, and a recurring one at that: the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The Boston Globe reported that Mayor Walsh is teaming up with Governor Charlie Baker to help anti-legalization advocates, including “a coalition of doctors, law enforcement officials, and addiction specialists,” fund a campaign that opposes a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
I simply don’t get it.
The mayor is an alcoholic, and it more than bemuses me as to why he’s so anti-marijuana. Governor Baker, too, has made the fight against opioid addiction a hallmark of Beacon Hill. It seems to me that these two individuals, perhaps more than anyone else, would understand how marijuana has been scientifically proven to combat both alcohol and opioid abuse. It’s on par with denying evolution or climate change.
There’s also the added tax revenue and new tourism industry to consider but most importantly, legalized marijuana would ease the suffering of those unable to obtain herb through the state’s archaic medicinal marijuana program. If nothing else, I know you want to provide aid to those in distress.
Marijuana is hardly the only reason I want you to helm The Hub.
As a woman, an ethnic minority, a non-native of Boston, a daughter of a drug addicted father and community-driven single mother, a bulwark for the needy, you have a unique perspective on the city and the way it operates which would benefit the majority of us.
The work you’ve done on behalf of under-resourced children, on stymieing human trafficking, on reducing and preventing spousal abuse and sexual assault, on streamlining small business licensing and permitting for women, on providing liquor licenses for up-and-coming restaurants outside of the Boston tourist bubble, on supporting local literary arts and culture, on clawing for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, are the kind of endeavors that would sharply increase the quality of life in Boston and be amplified with the weight of the Mayor’s Office behind you.In your life, you’ve straddled so many lines, smashed so many barriers, and overcome so many odds. To a degree Mayor Walsh has too, but you’ve accomplished those feats with the best of intentions, not with one eye cast on the next level of office.
Imagine how swimmingly those could be put into action with the support of an increasingly more diverse and progressive Boston City Council? Imagine if Michelle Wu, a stalwart voice of the people in her own right, maintained her seat as President of the City Council? Imagine if the demographics of this constituent body began to more aptly mirror those of Boston’s various neighborhoods?
Perhaps minorities would have a more booming voice in local government, perhaps pain-points like parking and transportation would be tempered by local entrepreneurs, perhaps new and sustainable companies would emerge by the harnessing the talent of those freshly graduated from from music, vocational or industry-specific schools. Perhaps more people could then afford to live and work in a locale that feels more and more like it caters strictly to the affluent and illustrious. Perhaps then Bostonians would retain their character and their dignity.
The breadth of your charm and magnetism, your sheer force of nature, will perpetuate your efforts and your triumphs in the most convincing way.
Boston will thank you for it. Boston will hold you accountable if and when you fall short. And there will be times when you do fall short. The mark of a great person is how they overcome adversity and I have the utmost confidence that when you stumble, you won’t fall. You’ll regain your balance and hit your stride again.
So please, Ms. Pressley, please consider a run for mayor next year. When the opportunity is ripe, start the necessary fundraising, start letting the public know of all the good deeds notched unassumingly in your belt, start letting them know of your hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future of the city.
Start for us.