By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
On January 17th, I had the honor of standing in front of the city I love and explaining all that we’ve accomplished together, and what we have to look forward to in the upcoming year. As I looked out into the audience at Symphony Hall, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that you put your faith in me to lead and that you trust me to make you and your families’ futures brighter.
I pledged three years ago that as the Mayor of Boston, I would listen, I would learn, and I would lead — because we are in this together. We are still listening, we are always learning, and we will continue to lead. And because of our work together, the state of our city is stronger than it has ever been in our history.
That’s a bold statement, I know. But when you look at what we’ve achieved together over the past year — and the past 3 years — it’s hard to deny.
Unemployment is at a record low. The Boston Public Schools are the best of any city in the country, with graduation and college completion rates at all-time highs. Violent crime and property crime have come down every year, and so have arrests. We’ve set a new record in the number of homes we’ve built for low- and middle- income families. We have become a headquarters city in the global innovation economy and we’re bringing fiber optic digital infrastructure for more internet and cable options in every neighborhood. We’ve advanced community-friendly development and good job growth all across our city.
None of this would have been possible without the input and hard work of so many Bostonians. I want to take this moment to thank all of you for your commitment to our shared values and the city we love.
With all of our success, we still have much more work to do. Last night, I was excited to share with you the plans we have for 2017 and beyond.
Boston must be a place in which all of our children have an equal shot at success. I was proud to announce that, for the first time, Boston will eliminate the opportunity gap in early childhood education. We will be filing legislation that will bring high-quality, free pre-kindergarten to every single 4-year-old in our city. And what’s more, we’re ready to launch a $1 billion investment in our school facilities so that students have the opportunity to learn in 21st-century classrooms and get the resources they need to excel in college and career.
Boston is a city that is constantly on the move. We’re bringing in new traffic light technology that will adapt to traffic in real time and work to keep things flowing.
Boston is a city with rich cultural resources, extending into all of our neighborhoods: we’ll be brining Boston Public Library services to the Chinatown/Downtown neighborhood for the first time in a long time.
Boston must be a place where everyone can call their home. With our new requirements on developers and our adoption of the Community Preservation Act, we are preparing to make historic investments in affordable housing. In addition, we’re filing five bills at the State House to protect residents from displacement. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to keep Boston a city of neighborhoods and a city for everyone.
The City will also use $100 million from the sale of the Winthrop Square Garage downtown to strengthen our neighborhoods: by revitalizing public housing in East Boston and South Boston; making unprecedented investments in Franklin Park and Boston Common; and by greening Columbia Road from Roxbury to Dorchester to South Boston, which will finally complete Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for the Emerald Necklace.
We are a stronger city because of our shared commitment to our values and the bonds we forge to support each other. That’s how we ended chronic veterans homelessness and got on a path to ending all chronic homelessness by 2018. That’s how we led the way against the opioid crisis with the nation’s first Office of Recovery Services and 24-hour 311 Recovery Hotline. And that’s how we’ll continue to be one of the safest big cities in the nation. We will create Neighborhood Trauma Teams in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, East Boston, and Jamaica Plain. Together we’ll end the cycle of suffering and bring healing to our city.
I know we still have a lot more work to do. And we’re going to do it together. It’s clear from our accomplishments that when we come together as a city and trust in our shared values, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
So, once again, Boston, I want to thank you.
Thank you for your innovative ideas and your desire to always keep moving forward and leading the world.
Thank you for sharing with me your hopes, your concerns, and your fighting spirit so that I can better lead.
Thank you for your determination to come to the table and solve difficult challenges.
Thank you for your strength and your ability to lift each other up.
Thank you for inspiring me every single day in my work as Mayor of this great city.
Thank you again, Boston, for always fighting for a better future.
Martin Walsh is Mayor of Boston.