The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston recently held a mayoral forum in which each candidate spent a half hour talking with Harvard Professor and Director of the Institute, Edward Glaeser. The fast-paced event was a great way to get to know how State Representative Marty Walsh and City Councilor John Connolly view opportunities to grow Boston’s economy. (You can watch video of the forum here.)

Representative Walsh was first up. Many of his answers referenced the difficulty residents and small business owners face when they run up against red tape at Boston City Hall. “Many of you have never stepped in City Hall,” Walsh said, “But you rely on City Hall.” He proposed streamlining permitting processes to make them more predictable.

Walsh also focused on the medical economy in Boston. He shared the story of how he was one of the first children to receive an experimental cancer treatment—chemotherapy and radiation. In a question about preserving Boston’s middle class, Walsh said he would prioritize bringing medical device manufacturing companies to Boston to create blue-collar jobs.

It was the first time I’d seen Walsh in person since the preliminary, and I thought he came across much better in person than he does on televised debates. His pace matched Glaeser’s, and he offered detailed answers about the city’s budget, which the crowd appreciated.

After a short break, Councilor Connolly took the stage. He discussed the “paradox” of the Innovation District—high demand is forcing companies to look for more affordable space elsewhere in Boston. He cited areas like Allston and Mattapan as ripe for development if transit is improved. Connolly also cited the commuter rail stop being financed by New Balance as a promising example of public-private partnerships being leveraged to strengthen the region’s infrastructure. When asked by the audience where public-private partnerships are best used, Connolly responded in the Boston Public Schools and transportation.

Despite mentioning several times his lack of sleep, Connolly also gave detailed answers to questions from both Glaeser and the audience. Both candidates came across well and stayed on-message throughout. Guess that’s why it’s either candidate’s race to win one week until Election Day.

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