Barros, key Walsh supporter, takes cabinet post
Marty Walsh swept into Boston City Hall by assembling a team of former campaign rivals behind him. Endorsements from former mayoral hopefuls Felix Arroyo, John Barros and Charlotte Golar Richie helped Walsh turn a narrow geographic base along Boston’s coast into a dominant performance in the city’s minority neighborhoods during November’s mayoral final. Marty Walsh won the mayor’s office because he won Boston’s minority neighborhoods. He won the city’s minority neighborhoods, in part, because his campaign assembled a formidable group of supportive politicians of color. And on Monday, Walsh moved to make his City Hall look more like his campaign, tapping Barros as Boston’s new economic development chief.
Barros, a Roxbury native, Dartmouth grad, and former school committee member, traded a job on Wall Street for a position atop a Dorchester and Roxbury nonprofit over a decade ago. Barros and Walsh both campaigned on a pitch to bridge the deep divisions between Boston’s wealthy downtown and its poorer neighborhoods. It’s now Barros’s job to put those pledges into action.
Barros’s cabinet post will oversee the city’s tourism, licensing, and small business departments, as well as the city’s jobs policy. It will also work alongside the Boston Redevelopment Authority, although the BRA will retain its own director and board. Walsh has pledged to expedite small business development, focus on neighborhood development, and streamline a licensing process that forbids dancing without a permit. At Monday’s announcement, staged at a school that trains city teens for restaurant jobs, Barros vowed to make Boston “a place where everyone can climb the economic ladder to success.”
The Globe notes that the appointment of Barros, the son of Cape Verdean immigrants, brings some promised diversity to Walsh’s cabinet. But it also deepens the links between Walsh’s campaign, which won on the strength of coalition-building in minority neighborhoods, and Walsh’s City Hall. Walsh previously tapped Arroyo, who campaigned tirelessly on Walsh’s behalf, as the city’s chief of health and human services. With Barros on board, Walsh now has two of the top three minority candidates from last fall’s mayoral race working in his administration, charged with making good on the promises that they all made last fall.
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