By Jamie Allendorf
BU New Service
The son of a former Boston mayor and a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community will face off in Tuesday’s election to fill the District 2 city council seat. The race highlights the changing demographics of the city and the neighborhoods that make up the district.
Ed Flynn and Mike Kelley are vying for the District 2 city council seat after current city councilor Bill Linehan announced plans to retire. District 2 includes South Boston, Chinatown, South End, and Downtown.
Municipal preliminary elections held on Sept. 26 narrowed the race from seven candidates. Flynn took 56 percent of the vote with Kelley taking 35 percent in the. More than 9,000 ballots came in from 24 precincts in the district.
Both candidates cite public education, improvement of public transportation, and a commitment to securing affordable housing as major priorities, but it’s not the policies that make this race compelling. The dynamic of the race seems to rest instead on the juxtaposition between tradition and the evolving nature of the city.
Flynn, a lifelong resident of the district and son of former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn, comes from an established political family while Kelley, an openly gay man and former aide to Mayor Thomas Menino, seems to embody the changing landscape of Boston. Neither Kelley, nor Flynn has served in an elected office previously.
“I don’t pretend to have all of the answers,” Flynn said, “but I am going to focus on helping our residents address concerns such as affordable housing, safe streets, and a transportation system that works for all so that’s what I want to focus on.”
The recent surge of construction in the district has created concerns over the residential status of longtime residents, particularly seniors. In 2017 alone, the Boston Planning and Development Agency approved 1,173 new housing units in the district, including a 650-unit complex in the South End.
“We don’t want to see luxury condo after luxury condo being built,” Flynn said. “We want to make sure that Boston remains a city and is a city that is welcoming to all, including the poor and our seniors.”
Flynn served for 25 years in the Navy before his retirement and worked as probation officer for the Suffolk Superior Court where he headed the reentry program and worked with the homeless community in Boston.
Flynn advocates partnerships between Boston Public Schools and colleges and universities throughout the city whereby institutions of higher learning can “give back to the young people of Boston” by allowing them to access their facilities and sports centers.
Kelley also cites education as a crucial aspect of his platform. His plan involves partnering under-performing schools with high achieving schools in the district “so that the best practices and techniques can be shared.”
His plan extends beyond the public school system with plans to partner labor organizations with vocational schools to help residents build careers in trades. This includes job training and English-learning programs.
Like Flynn, Kelley stressed the need for affordable housing in District 2 and greater access to public transportation in a region of Boston that has been referred to as a “transit desert” by former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation James Aloisi.
Both candidates have based their platforms on similar issues, but in a race where there appears to be no striking difference in political leanings, recognition may be the key to victory. Former candidate Corey Dinopoulos has voiced his support for Kelley and has campaigned for his former competitor since the primary.
“I’m going to continue to make sure that whoever we elect, that they follow through with all of the things that they’ve said and that they continue to talk about the things that I care about,” Dinopoulos said. “Because I know Ed Flynn hasn’t gotten on a bike ever. I don’t ever want to hear him say that he has.”