By Ryan Grewal, city editor
City Councilor Tito Jackson formally announced Thursday that he will challenge incumbent Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. In a scathing and stirring broadside outside Roxbury’s Haley House Bakery Cafe, Jackson sharply criticized the incumbent mayor without once mentioning his name.
Jackson’s half-hour speech repeatedly implied that Walsh did not prioritize Boston’s working-class population. Dozens of Jackson supporters gathered in the front lot of Haley House to hear the announcement at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
“We must create jobs for those that have Ph.Ds and those that don’t have degrees,” he said. “We must, must create jobs for the brothers and sisters in our community […] who are not looking for a handout, they are simply looking for a hand up.”
Slamming Walsh’s development goals, Jackson criticized city inequality in housing policies and imprudence in concessions granted during General Electric’s corporate headquarters move to Boston.
“Across the city, gentrification has become a neighborhood norm,” Jackson said to a roused audience. “We seem to judge our success by the number of million dollar condos, skyscrapers and publicly-funded helipads that are being built, rather than the mobility of our families and the percentage of them that manage to escape poverty.”
Jackson praised the high school students who organized a walkout in protest of budget cuts to Boston Public Schools last March and highlighted education as a priority for the city’s future. Mayor Walsh was critical of the walkout, claiming at the time that it was not based on accurate information, according to The Boston Globe.
“I’d love to see who’s behind the walkout,” Walsh said to The Globe in March. “Whoever’s behind it, I hope they start to feed the young students in our city with accurate information and not misguided information.”
In contrast, Jackson said he was inspired by the protest of the Boston high school students.
“We must begin to budget not for sustenance, but success,” Jackson said. “I am still motivated by those young people that chose to do something that many adults could learn from. They stood up and they said enough is enough, and they walked out for their birthright: A good education.”
Jackson humorously contextualized his candidacy on the uncommonly warm January afternoon.
“[My birth] was ironically following the longest stretch of cloudy weather that year. After my birth on April 11th, the weather cleared,” Jackson said to laughs. “Just like today.”
Sarah Wenig, a Back Bay resident and Jackson supporter, attended the event and expressed disappointment with Walsh’s tenure as mayor.
“I supported adamantly Mayor Walsh,” Wenig said. “I really bought that he would do what had to be done for Bostonians.”
Charles Clemons Muhammad, a local activist and a candidate for Jackson’s seat in City Council, endorsed Jackson in his bid to unseat Walsh.
“I’ve seen the change he has done,” Muhammad said. “It takes courage to run against the mayor. Tito has courage.”
After his speech, Jackson walked through Roxbury’s Dudley Square to kick off his grassroots campaign against a popular incumbent mayor. As Jackson walked through the district he represents, many residents enthusiastically approached their City Councilor while others shouted their approval across streets and from cars, buses and municipal vehicles.
“You’ve got my vote!” yelled one motorist on Washington Street.
The City of Boston will hold preliminary mayoral elections on Sept. 26, 2017. The two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election on Nov. 7, 2017.
Photo courtesy Tito Jackson, Facebook