New Boston Mayor Retiree Ally

Long History With Walsh

JANUARY 2014 VOICE: Boston Mayor-Elect Marty Walsh is no stranger to Association officials or our members. Dating back to his start in the House in 1997, Walsh showed an interest in the issues important to public retirees.

Over his 16 years in the House, Walsh took a lead role in many key debates involving public pension and healthcare issues. Far from a rubber stamp or an easy “yes” vote, Walsh became known as the broker of compromise between opposing groups.

“One of the first votes Marty took in the House was a vote in favor of reforming the COLA law (Chapter 17). This was highly controversial at the time, but Marty stuck with our Association and took a tough vote, which history has proven to have been the right thing,” recalls Association Vice President Ralph White. “Marty also played a decisive role in the negotiations surrounding retiree healthcare reform in 2011.

“He was able to bring the different sides together and help broker a deal that protects the rights of retirees. Marty’s a standup guy, who is known as someone who keeps his word. These traits will serve him well as mayor.”

Despite Walsh’s strong record on behalf of retirees, making the decision to back him in the race for mayor was not an easy decision. Walsh’s general election opponent, City Councilor John Connolly, also had history with the Association.

“I’ve known the Connolly family for years,” said White. “John’s dad, Mike (a former state rep. and subsequently Secretary of State), is an old friend, and both parents are Association members. We also have a very strong loyal membership in West Roxbury, who of course stuck by their neighbor, John Connolly.

“But, given our long history of working directly with Marty Walsh, we had to go with the guy who stood with us during some very difficult fights in the State House. This time, we had to be there for him.”

Policy Leader

As Mayor of the largest municipality in Massachusetts, Walsh will assume a lead role in the development and implementation of retirement policy.

Outgoing Mayor Tom Menino leaves a record of supporting retirees and maintaining a good relationship with the Association. Menino has defended our defined benefit plan and worked to maintain high quality healthcare that includes reimbursing Boston retirees 50% of the Medicare Part B premium.

This contrasts the situation in other cities, such as Leominster and Somerville, where the sitting mayors have not been kind to retirees.

In Leominster, Mayor Dean Mazzarella has blocked efforts by the Leominster Retirement Board to pay a COLA increase for the past four years running. And in Somerville, Mayor Joseph Curtatone is notorious for a move that sharply increased retiree healthcare costs.

“Thankfully, we have not had those problems with Mayor Menino and The City of Boston. Boston has paid a COLA every year since 1998 and two years ago increased the COLA base to $13,000,” continued White. “As the largest municipality in the state, Boston has the lead role in many areas. With Marty Walsh’s background and knowledge, he’s well suited to lead by example.”