Hello, everyone. Thanks for reading. I’m running to be the next Mayor of Boston - and I need your help.
Our Party – the Democratic Party – is experiencing a rebirth. We're finally winning red states, Barack Obama is our President, we could have our first Latino Supreme Court Justice, and in Massachusetts, an exciting progressive, Deval Patrick, became our Governor – in large part because of the netroots.
New models of political leadership are emerging in our country - and are sweeping our Party. But in my city, Boston, with over half a million people, we are still waiting to move our part of the country forward.
Boston is one of the most reliably Democratic cities in the country, but it is also home to one of the last machine-run, entrenched city governments left. The Mayor’s job has effectively become a lifetime appointment. The last time any sitting Boston mayor was successfully challenged was in 1949, after he had spent eight months in jail.
The last truly competitive election for Mayor was over 25 years ago, 1983, when Mel King lost to Ray Flynn in an open-seat contest. Tom Menino had just been elected city councilor of the neighborhood of Hyde Park. Ten years later, Menino was appointed Acting Mayor, which he exploited freely to help him win his first election.
That was 1993. Tom Menino has been Mayor now for sixteen years, and he is asking for another four.
Sixteen years is long enough for anyone to be mayor. While Tom Menino has done some good things, he has not - and never will change the one thing that we need: to change Boston politics. Boston politics enables, and even incentivizes those in power to remain in power indefinitely. Politics in our city is exclusively a competition among power-brokers. It is not a competition of ideas or even ideals. It has always been about divide-and-conquer, not been about bringing people together. Ironic for a city where modern democracy was born.
And as we look at what’s happening across our country, it is time we shake things up.
I’m not a Boston native. I came to Boston to attend Harvard’s Kennedy School to study government. I was a former urban school teacher, and I wanted to understand why our government allowed for a dual system of education in our country – one that works, and one that is completely broken.
To be quite honest, I got my degree from the Kennedy School of Government and left quite cynical about government - even more cynical about politics.
I believed that all fundamental change happens at the grass-roots level, from the bottom up. So I worked for ten years in community-based non-profit organizations as an affordable housing developer and a community organizer.
After ten years I realized that you can’t ignore government. Government is just too powerful. I also realized that if you had people inside government who believed in bottom-up change, government could actually be a powerful instrument of change.
And that’s why I ran for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council. That year, I ran against the son of a former Boston mayor, the daughter of another former Boston mayor, and the son of a former Secretary of State. But the voters passed over the legacies, and I won that year’s only open seat on the City Council.
Since then, I've been fighting for change in Boston: for schools that prepare our kids for a 21st century economy; transparency in our budgeting process; new technology that makes our city more efficient; real strategies that prevent youth violent crime on our streets.
After four years of being inside City Hall I see that the only way to realize the change Boston needs – to change Boston politics, to bring our city into the 21st century – is through the office of the Mayor. And the person who sits in that office now, Tom Menino, has been there for sixteen years.
I am running to unseat Tom Menino because Boston can’t afford to wait another four years for 21st century leadership. Without a change at the top, we cannot bring forth innovation, ideas, and progressive values from the bottom up. We cannot become a truly world class city – that capitalizes on world-class resources like our schools, our innovative economy, arts and culture, even our famous sports teams. We cannot change a politics that is all about power and not about ideas.
A lot of people give us no chance. They tell us there is no way to unseat Menino and the entrenched powers in Boston. They tell us that grassroots organizing, online activism, and a reform agenda will do little to dent a system of power and patronage.
But this is the attitude that has left the Mayor's office unchecked since 1949. It is the attitude that has led the Democratic Party astray before. And this defeatist attitude will preserve this last vestige of machine politics in America.
I'm not willing to accept that. We know that with hard work we can bring out the change we need. We’ve seen it happen before.
I hope you will join me:www.samyoon.com
P.S – I will be sticking around for about an hour to answer any questions or field any comments you might have. I’m really looking forward to starting a conversation with this community so please write in and let me hear your thoughts.