Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has only been in office for a few months, yet he’s already clearly distinguished himself from his predecessor Thomas Menino, who held the mayoral seat for a record five terms. Walsh has reshuffled his cabinet, won over the arts and innovation communities, instituted free Wi-Fi throughout the city, and extended hours for the MBTA on weekends. And, when he has time, he tweets.
“A third of the population in Boston is under the age of 35,” says Walsh, who grew up in Dorchester. “They often won’t pick up the newspaper and read it. They rarely watch TV. And it’s a way for me to get my message out to them, and get their message back from them.”
Walsh has a data dashboard in his office monitoring Facebook and Twitter in real-time, and he’s hosted a handful of casual Twitter chats with his followers. “It’s the way people communicate today,” he says. “Plus it also tells the story that Boston is heading that way as far as tech. We’ve done well in the tech industry, and we want to be the leader.”
Another sector Walsh has shone the spotlight on: Tourism. As the third largest industry in the city—after education and healthcare—tourism is big business for Boston. “We have a convention center in Boston that is busting at the seams, and there’s hopefully going to be an expansion of that convention center,” he says. “We have a natural feeder into Boston with our hotels, and with our convention centers, with our sports teams and with our history.”
Walsh’s late-night task force is one way he’s hoping to make the city more tourist-friendly. He’s already managed to extend the T hours on weekends in a one-year pilot program, and he’s also pushed to allow food trucks to stay on the streets later and for bars to stay open later.
“Both on a national and international stage, we’re looking to make Boston somewhat more cosmopolitan,” he says. “Our goal is to attract more businesses from around the country to Boston—to invest and stay here.”