Bill Walczak’s true believers are just that. He’s one of the dozen running for mayor of Boston. His supporters (and he) point to his phenomenal, 4-decades-long record of making things happen and even doing the unlikely or seemingly impossible.
He spoke with Left Ahead for half hour today. Click below to hear him.
Unlike the others of the dozen running for the open seat this year, he expects voters to get with the program, his program. He promises to have a full platform to his campaign site within 48 hours (end of Thursday) with policy papers following regularly. He know that’s risky and lends itself to sniping by his competitors, but he says he’s all about ideas and will put his out there for discussion.
Also differing from other candidates, he says he won’t have a two-stage campaign — one for the preliminary and a second for the final with the two highest vote-getters. “You have to believe you’re going to win,” he said. That may give him the leeway to present his big ideas throughout.
While many candidates like to say they’ll be as much of a man of the people as Thomas Menino has been for 20 years, here too, Walczak says he approaches the job as differently as he does the campaign. He said that “the most important thing a mayor can do is to have a vision.” Then, he’d hire the right people to implement it.
The only cliché Walcsak used was that he is known for “pulling rabbits out of hats.” He cited founding the Codman Health center when he was 20 (leading it from thee to 300 employees) and co-founding two schools (the Codman Academy fully integrated with the health center and leading the high-school students into a professional environment alien to the vast majority of BPS students). You can listen in as he explains how the intern/mentor/resources components work.
He thinks of the mayor as the city’s CEO and wants voters to see his successes as transferable to Boston’s operations. For schools for one, he thinks the successful experiments can expand and adapt to other underperforming ones.
Walcsak speaks in grand terms. He wants “a boom town.” He thinks with the higher educational, technological, medical, financial and other resources in the Boston area, there is no reason the city and its mayor can’t draw on (and squeeze) and use those to take its economic development, health-care, schools and public safety to higher levels. Likewise, he wants those sources to help provide and fine-tune the ideas necessary. He sees “a whole array of think tanks” to enable that. He figures that the sources are available and will be willing to join that effort; “It’s as simple as inviting them in.” For his part, he said, “The purpose of the mayor is to create that kind of excitement.”
It’s easy to be cynical when confronting a visionary. That’s a little harder when that visionary has a record of successes.
The only way Walcsak can win and go for this is if the timing is right, if the voters are ready to try big changes after two decades of slow, steady improvements. They have to be willing and believe him when he says, “I’ve done this before and can do it again.”