We’re not missing this one

The last time Boston had a race for mayor without an in­cumbent was 1993, three years before CommonWealth came into existence. We missed that race, but we aren’t go­ing to miss this year’s campaign to replace Mayor Thomas Menino.

THE LAST TIME Boston had a race for mayor without an in­cumbent was 1993, three years before CommonWealth came into existence. We missed that race, but we aren’t go­ing to miss this year’s campaign to replace Mayor Thomas Menino.

As our name suggests, we try to take stock of issues across the state, paying particular attention to the Gateway Cities, those struggling urban areas that often live in the shadow of Boston. But this mayoral race is drawing our attention. It’s an important time for the state’s capital city and economic engine, not because any crisis is looming but because the city seems to be searching for a new identity now that the urban mechanic is moving on. This race could be a turning point for the city, and we want to join in that discussion.

We hope to examine the race from different perspectives, and become a resource for people interested in learning more about the candidates and their ideas. We also want to use the campaign as a vehicle to kickstart a discussion about the city’s future. We invite all our readers —inside and outside of Boston—to join us in that discussion, and contribute your own perspectives.

CommonWealth, and its parent MassINC, have already cosponsored mayoral forums where the crowded field of candidates was asked to provide their positions on a host of issues ranging from education to economic development. The large field makes any discussion beyond a sound bite difficult, so at one forum we broke the candidates for mayor into three groups so we could explore positions a little bit more thoroughly.

Our last issue carried a fascinating piece by Lawrence DiCara and James Sutherland that told where the votes now are in Boston. Their conclusion, after poring over precinct data, was that the city is being changed by younger, liberal, and more educated white voters who have moved to the city within the past 10 years. These voters tend to turn out for state and national elections, but take a pass on municipal races. DiCara and Sutherland say a mayoral candidate who appeals to this group, and motivates them to go to the polls, could win.

Our coverage of the mayoral campaign continues with this issue. Paul McMorrow’s cover story focuses on the new campaign style that is sweeping Massachusetts and how it harkens back to a style of politicking popularized by Michael Dukakis. Paul’s story introduces us to the campaign operatives and candidates who believe that grassroots organizing is more important than political endorsements and TV advertising. It also takes us into the Dorchester living room of Joyce Linehan, a political activist and campaign volunteer who may epitomize the new campaign style. Linehan and her ilk are transforming the race for mayor in Boston, a race so top-heavy with candidates that no one can run solely on the old tribalisms of race, ethnicity, or labor allegiance.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

James Aloisi, the former transportation secretary and author who frequently contributes to CommonWealth, tries to place the mayoral race into an historical context in this issue. In upcoming articles on CommonWealth’s website, he plans to look back to the mayoral elections of 1909, 1913, 1949, 1959, and 1967, and use those races as “windows on the city’s soul.” He says such windows are helpful to see where the city has been, and where it may be headed.

Come along with us as we follow this sprawling, messy mayoral race and try to make some sense of it. It could be wicked interesting.