Last week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sat down with Boston.com for a wide-ranging interview about the first-term mayor’s time on the job and what he sees as the most pressing issues facing the city.
Here’s a look at five notable topics from the interview, including his opposition to privatizing public transit, why he doesn’t want to match predecessor Tom Menino’s lengthy tenure, and whether he considers himself a feminist.
‘Privatization doesn’t work’
As part of the push to fix the MBTA’s financial outlook, the state transit agency’s management has pushed to outsource certain union jobs to the private sector.
But Walsh, whose connections to labor were vital to his election, said that privatization won’t fix the T.
“Privatization doesn’t work,” Walsh said. “Anytime you look at a privatization, in the short term when the first contract goes out, there might be a savings there. And then when the second contract goes out, it’s right back up. The costs go right back up.”
Established by Gov. Charlie Baker, the T’s control board has seemed interested in cutting costs by privatizing functions like the “money room,” which is tasked with counting the fares collected at gates.
“I know that the money room has gone up recently,” Walsh said. “Let’s revisit the money room in three years and see how that’s working out for people.”
The Carmen’s Union, which represents thousands of MBTA employees, has pushed back on the privatization effort and questioned whether it will indeed bring savings. Similarly, Walsh said he did not have high hopes for the privatization effort.
“You can’t regulate yourself by privatization,” Walsh said. “You can’t reform yourself—that’s a better word—by privatization. It just doesn’t work.”
Marty Walsh, feminist
The mayor commended Massachusetts’ new gender pay bill, which seeks to define what constitutes equal work and promote salary transparency. Walsh also pointed to City Hall’s own plan to run salary negotiation workshops for 85,000 women over the next five years.
“We’ve done a lot. I commend them for passing the legislation, but we’ve passed a lot of legislation over the last decade for the pay gap, gender pay gap, but it’s still there,” Walsh said.
So would the mayor describe himself as a feminist?
“I’d say probably,” Walsh said, turning to press secretary Bonnie McGilpin. “What do you think, Bonnie?”
“Yes,” McGilpin said.
“I’d say so, yeah. Equal pay for equal work, absolutely,” Walsh said. “I think that we have more and more single families led by [women], households led by women. When you have women get paid less than [men] for doing the same job, that hurts the family. It also hurts the economy. I think there’s an opportunity for us to really change and do some things here.”
Walsh doesn’t want to be another Menino
Just three years into his first tenure, Walsh remains remarkably popular, according to the most recent polling. He plans to run for reelection in 2017 and will likely be the odds-on favorite to win.
But unlike his predecessor Tom Menino, Walsh has no interest in being Boston’s mayor for two full decades.
“I think 20 years is a long time as mayor,” Walsh said. “I just think it’s a little too long as mayor.”
Instead, Walsh said he thought the “perfect time” for a mayor would be either eight to 12 years or 10 to 12 years. That would allow him or her to follow certain issues through to their completion, Walsh said.
The key difference between being a legislator and being a mayor
Walsh spent more than 15 years as a Democratic state representative, and he said the differences between being a mayor and legislator can be summarized as offense versus defense.
“As mayor, you’re on offense all day long. And [as a legislator], sometimes you’re on defense,” he said. “[As a legislator,] you’re looking at the legislation and it’s a process. As mayor … it’s more reactionary, like all the time.”
The mayor has to deal with new issues constantly, he said, and then quickly get information out to constituents. That makes it a faster-paced job than the consensus-building of the legislature.
“When you’re working through a legislative process, it’s more of a process and you’re taking more time to write that story, so it’s less reactive,” he said.
Still, Walsh said he loved both jobs.
“At the end of the day, there’s similarity between the two of them, because you’re dealing with the public and people, and making sure people have access to you as a government,” he said.
Marty the Patriots fan is worried
The New England Patriots will be “all right” without the suspended Tom Brady for the first quarter of the season, Walsh said. Long-term, though, Walsh is not ready for a post-Brady NFL.
“It’s going to be terrible,” he said. “I’m counting the years, whether it’s two, three, or four years. I know four is a stretch, maybe. It’s gonna be tough for us, but we’ve been spoiled. We’ve been spoiled in Boston.”
Walsh, a season ticket holder, noted that few if any teams have had a run of success like the Patriots have had over the last 15 years.
“Nobody, other than maybe the Celtics in the ’60s, have ever gone on a run like this ever,” he said, citing the many AFC East titles and AFC Championship appearances. “We’ve been in crazy Super Bowls. It’s just been insane. But we always want one more Super Bowl. One more Super Bowl.”