By Christian Mamo
BU News Service
As a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, Jody Bishop gets a firsthand view of the city’s opioid crisis, and he thinks a poor economy makes the problem even worse.
So when Bishop, who is African American, voted Tuesday, he chose incumbent Mayor Martin Walsh over City Councilor Tito Jackson, who was vying to become the city’s first black mayor.
“I’ve seen it too many times. Kids, adults, parents. They lose everything over it,” said Bishop, a 64-year-old resident of the city’s West End, referring to the opioid epidemic. “It’s a real epidemic.”
Bishop said Walsh has a track record of reviving the economy. “He really fixed things after he was elected in 2013,” he said. “And his plan to let Amazon open their headquarters here will create so many opportunities for Bostonians.”
But Bishop still has criticisms of Walsh.
“He’s no Menino, that’s for sure,” said Bishop, referring to Walsh’s predecessor, the late Thomas Menino, who led the city for 20 years, the longest tenure of any Boston mayor.
“He looks uncomfortable in public, almost like he’s shy. He doesn’t have that same personal appeal Menino did,” he added.
But Bishop did not agree with others’ contention that Walsh had made weak efforts to improve the welfare of people of color in the city.
“Tito talks a lot about racial issues and about inclusion of minorities. He says Walsh fails to do that. But I’m from a different time. And trust me, things are much, much better now,” he said.
As to why he voted during an election with low turnout, Bishop said voting is more than a political statement to him. It is a patriotic duty.
“I’m out here to do my duty to my city, my community and my country. How can we expect the politicians to help us if we don’t participate?” Bishop said.
Walsh a worthy successor to Menino, voter says
Eugene Austin, a lifelong Dorchester resident, said his neighborhood is doing better than ever. He voted for Marty Walsh, who succeeded Menino in 2013.
“He’s been continuing the good work done by Menino. And I want that to continue,” said Austin.
Despite the evident progress in his community, the 47-year-old said the city still needs to address some problems.
“We still got kids joining gangs and getting into bad stuff. It takes a village to raise a child. The community has to step in when the parents are absent or unable to give their kids the required guidance.”
For Austin, Walsh’s neighborhood development policies foster the kind of atmosphere needed to give impressionable kids a chance at a stable future.
“I’ve got two little kids myself and I’m not home all day. Our community has to also take part in raising them,” he said.
Austin said he also liked Walsh’s public housing plans. “We need to make housing affordable for working-class residents and counteract the rising market prices,” he said.
He also saw Walsh as the candidate best suited to help combat drug issues in Dorchester, including crime and addiction. He liked that the incumbent mayor supported the legalization of marijuana.
“No more young people are getting their lives ruined by being prosecuted,” he said.