Boston native Greg Selkoe is the founder and CEO of Karmaloop, the largest online streetwear retailer in the world, with more than 500 brands selling across 45 countries. Previously, he’s worked as as urban planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Selkoe holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School at Harvard University.
Over the past 20 years since our last open election, a lot has changed in Boston around how communities convene, businesses operate and creativity is fostered. Boston needs a mayor who has a vision for Boston that looks forward into the 21st century rather than relying on relics of Boston’s past. This is why I am enthusiastically supporting John Connolly for mayor.
As a native Bostonian, entrepreneur, member of the larger startup and tech community and someone who loves our city with a passion, it has been exciting to see Boston moving forward! In John, we have the vision, collaborative approach and openness to new ideas to steward and stoke our burgeoning and growing creative and innovation economy.
I want to be clear: If we don’t elect John Connolly for mayor, I believe the local startup and tech renaissance still in its infancy is at risk.
I was part of an event called the Creative Economy for Connolly and the turnout was huge. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable and I watched as people like Bill Warner, founder of Avid, Adelphic co-founder Jen Lum, Cort Johnson, co-founder of Terrible Labs and co-founder of Idea Paint Jeff Avalon listened intently to John speak of his vision for Boston. He was introduced by well-known Boston hip-hop artist and life-long friend Akrobatik (definitely a first in Boston politics!).
John spoke to the crowd about his progressive plans for a modern, global and diverse Boston – one that is open later, more fun and more culturally diverse. He wants to make Boston a city where everyone has an equal chance to start a business, open a restaurant or build a building. He spoke of streamlined permitting and a paperless City Hall. He spoke of Boston’s need to create far more housing for all income levels and to do so in a transit-oriented way that reduces automobile usage and supports biking, walking and taking the T, a transit option he wants to see run until 4 a.m. He spoke of his support for the LGBT community, a factor in his endorsement by Bay Windows, the largest gay newspaper in New England. (The paper noted that John stopped marching in the St. Paddy’s parade because it actively excluded gays and lesbians, while “Walsh marches in the parade every year but says that if he is elected mayor he will stop marching.”)
John talked about supporting the arts as central to his administration and of building on the Innovation District concept to move us toward a more complete innovation city, finally bringing the economic boom to communities of color starting with a world-class Roxbury Entrepreneurship Center. His commitment to job growth and education in communities of color is what won him the endorsement of the Bay State Banner, a Boston-based African American news weekly dating back to 1965.
Most importantly, the room responded audibly to his passion and pledge to make the Boston Public School system the best in the world, drawing on the enormous resources and talent of the universities and venture and tech communities to help make sure that everyone, and particularly the most disadvantaged, have a real shot out of poverty and at a better life. It is a disgrace that we don’t have healthy food, gym facilities, arts, music or adequate technology and science training for so many Boston students right here in the higher-education capital of the world. John will fight with everything he has to change that.
This election is very close. If new Bostonians, young people and communities of color don’t turn out in large numbers, John will lose.
John, a progressive Democrat, has been confronted with political tactics that have no place in an election of this importance and magnitude. Some believe Marty Walsh is the right choice because of his union background. I support unions; they have done a tremendous amount to help working people and our country. But the fact is, in Boston, the trade unions that Marty Walsh was head of have questionable records on diversity and being open to change. The leadership positions of many of the trade unions that Marty headed severely lack diversity. The Boston Police union has fought diversity requirements in their ranks before. Multiple factors are at work, but the fact remains: As of September 2013, “all 21 of the department’s district captains and temporary captains are white males.” This is not progressive, it is regressive.
Unions have spent millions of dollars of outside money on Marty Walsh’s behalf while John publicly asked that no outside special interest money be spent on his campaign. Everyone I have met who knows Marty Walsh has said he is an honest, kind and good person. I have no reason to doubt he is sincere when he says he plans not to let special interests affect doing what is best for Boston. But any human being would have an impossible time pushing back against the massive unitary force that paid for and bought you the keys to the mayor’s office.
We have a clear choice for Mayor of Boston and John is the right guy for our time. He represents the future of our city and the direction we must go. He can win, but the growing power and population of the non-traditional Boston voting blocs must turn out in large numbers. I ask all of you to take to social media and to tell all of your friends to turn out and vote for John Connolly this November 5th.
BostInno has publicly endorsed John Connolly for Mayor of Boston. However, the information, views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BostInno.