At Large City Councilor John Connolly announced Tuesday that he will be a candidate for Boston Mayor.
Flanked by supporters at Brighton High School Tuesday morning, Connolly, the 39-year-old Roslindale native, said he’s in the race to win and will focus on education as the cornerstone of his campaign.
Judging from his remarks Tuesday, Connolly will try and appeal to Boston residents that like Mayor Thomas Menino and the job he’s done for the city. The question will be whether he can he sway voters to his camp not because Menino has done a bad job but because there are other ideas out there on how to move Boston forward.
Menino has yet to announce whether he will run for an unprecedented sixth term and has till May 13 to make that decision.
“Mayor Menino has accomplished many great things during his 20 years in office, but if we want to reverse the trend of young families leaving Boston, then we need a new vision and new leadership for Boston,” Connolly said.
Connolly, a former teacher and father of two young children, said that his campaign would focus on the need to bring change to Boston Public Schools and to bring new ideas and new energy to the challenges facing Boston.
“I am running because every child deserves a world-class education from the Boston Public Schools, and the time to deliver that education is now,” said Connolly. “We got to do better at getting more of the school’s $1 billion budget into the class rooms and holding principals accountable for their schools.”
Since being elected, Connolly has been an outspoken voice for improving Boston’s schools.
In October, Connolly offered an alternative to Boston Public School’s school choice plan. The plan offered by Connolly, dubbed the Quality Choice Plan, states that every child would be grandfathered at their current school. Every child would be guaranteed a kindergarten (K-2) seat at one of the four schools closest to that child’s home with no more wait-lists and no more lines on maps. Every child would be eligible for a network of citywide magnet schools with innovative curriculums. Every child will have a guaranteed K-8 school or K-8 pathway and families could apply as groups to gain seats together at under-selected schools.
As Chair of the City Council’s Education Committee, Connolly cast the lone vote to oppose the approval of the teacher’s union contract that failed to lengthen the BPS school day, leaving Boston with one of the shortest school days in the country. He previously exposed BPS schools serving expired food to students, called for an overhaul to the teacher evaluation process, and has been an independent voice criticizing administrative failures in a school department that spends over $1 billion per year.
“As a former teacher and a current Boston Public School parent, I know firsthand that urban schools can succeed,” Connolly said Tuesday. “But through my work on the City Council and alongside other frustrated BPS parents, I’ve also learned how much work still needs to be done.”
Connolly believes that a change in Boston’s leadership is necessary to bring about change in the Boston Public Schools.
“Boston’s future depends on building great schools, because the success of our schools directly impacts our ability to build safe, healthy, and livable neighborhoods,” Connolly said. “Failing schools have forced many young families to flee Boston, and they are a huge obstacle to Boston’s ability to create jobs, attract talent, and retain families.”
In addition to his focus on schools, Connolly articulated the need for fresh leadership in reducing crime and violence, creating jobs and economic development, and improving quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods.
Connolly began his career as a teacher. After graduating from Harvard in 1995, he taught middle school students at the Nativity Mission School in Manhattan’s Lower East Side before returning to Boston to teach at the Boston Renaissance Charter School.
Connolly was first elected to an At-Large seat on the Council in 2007 and was reelected in 2009 and 2011 and is a graduate of Roxbury Latin, Harvard College, and Boston College Law School.
He lives with his wife Meg and their two children in West Roxbury and is expecting a third child this summer.