Thoughts on the Final Mayoral Debate and Field Guide for Undecided Voters

I’m not sure why my colleagues and I have been tirelessly hustling and sleeping as few hours as citywide candidates this election season, since the public seems to not give a damn. This past evening’s debate at Faneuil Hall was not even televised, yet the auditorium was literally half-empty. (Maybe the masses tuned in to the WTKK broadcast, though, to quote Boston’s greatest furniture commercial of all-time, “I doubt it.”)

Still – as annoying as it is that the Celtics season opener and widespread apathy once again trumped civic interest – I’m here to assist those who (somehow) remain undecided about Boston’s mayoral race. The decision is easier than I thought before witnessing the final dance, during which incumbent Mayor Tom Menino proudly boasted existing systems and services, while his opponent, City Councilor Michael Flaherty, proposed elaborate change and overhaul.

If you’re satisfied with public transportation, then keep Menino in office.
If you think the T sucks, then bet on his challenger.

If you approve of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and its handling of building projects, then pull for the incumbent.
If you think separate planning and development agencies should replace the current quasi-independent bureau, then you know what to do.

If Boston public schools are fine by your standards, then go for the man who’s had 16 years to implement structural and pedagogical strategies.
If you think someone else can do a better job, then at this juncture just one choice remains.

If you think it’s important to continue busing school children across the city, then Menino has your back.
If you feel that part of the school transportation budget can be better spent in classrooms, then the young candidate from Southie might interest you.

If you think that some of Boston’s schools are old but in “good buildings” nonetheless, then Menino all the way.
If in your view the physical plant of city schools is appalling, then with Flaherty you concur.

If you think the Boston Public Health Commission is capable of monitoring a Level-4 Biolab facility, then pitch a yard sign for Menino.
If you distrust that agency, then don’t move to Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, or the South End, and be sure to vote for Flaherty.

If you think City Hall has been competent in its efforts to keep people in their homes, then convince your neighbors to keep Menino in his.
If you’re newly homeless, then I don’t have to tell you what to do.

If you think city workers should live in Boston, then vote Flaherty.
If you could care less either way, then Menino might be the right choice.

If you want an administration that reflects the diversity in Boston’s neighborhoods, then the mayoral wannabe and his Asian-American running mate are your speed.
If having three high-ranking officials of color cuts your mustard, then don’t change horses.

Finally – if you agree that “Boston is a better city every day,” as Hizzoner said last night, then Menino is your man.
But if you think the city is worse off than it was four years ago, sixteen years ago, or even yesterday, then maybe try the other guy.

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