Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Opens Up on Violence, Marijuana and Elections

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke to NBC Boston Thursday about violence in the city, his re-election bid, marijuana legislation and other issues.

He said he is disappointed by the recent spate of violence in Boston, most notably over the Fourth of July weekend, when there were three homicides.

"The bottom line is we have too many guns on the street," he said. "Long term, the way we deal with it, we deal with it through education, strengthening our education system, creating more opportunities for employment, putting young people on pathways to career schools.

"That's how we fix it long term. Short term, we have to keep getting out in the street every day we can."

The mayor said he is also keeping an eye on the State House, where lawmakers are trying to compromise on a marijuana bill that will decide who makes decisions about pot shops in cities and towns.

"I don't want to have the gateway cities into Massachusetts become the havens for marijuana, for selling pot," Walsh said. "I don't think Boston is going to opt out of it. There hasn't been any conversation about that. And I think it's unfair that voters in some of those 101 cities and towns voted for marijuana, but they're opting out of selling it in their town."

Walsh has long spoken in opposition to recreational marijuana legalization, and he is in favor of the legislative moves that have followed November's ballot measure approval.

"Take your time, get the bill right. We don't want you to keep going back and make adjustments on it. And I'm certainly supportive of the legislature taking their time on it and coming up with something that's a good bill," Walsh said. "I'd like to see some of the money from the taxation go back to the cities and towns, not go into the general fund. It has to come back because we're the ones that are going to be dealing with the police protection, the traffic coming in here."

The well-publicized alcohol addiction problems in the mayor's past have him concerned by the bill.

"I'm concerned about it. I know people have questioned me and said marijuana is no different than alcohol. We'll see. We'll see. I'll sit back and wait and see. We'll see what happens in a year from now when it goes into effect. Let's look at the emergency rooms. Let's see if our drug addiction rate has gone down," he said. "If I'm wrong, that's great. I'd be proud to say I'm wrong on that one. Because I'd like to see you less people using heroin and fentanyl and opioids. But I don't know if I'm going to be wrong on that one."

As for the upcoming election season, the mayor has some focus on his own re-election bid, but not Gov. Charlie Baker's.

"I'm running for re-election for mayor of Boston. I'm focused on being mayor of the City of Boston," he said when asked if he would vote for Baker, with whom he has had a strong political relationship. "I have to focus on my office to get re-elected first, because if I'm not re-elected, it won't matter who I vote for."

The mayor touched on several other issues during the interview:

Race Relations in Boston

"We have long discussions about, are we a racist city? Did we deal with our past? Then we kind of hope that it goes away and forget about it and move on to a new subject, and I think what we're doing here is, we are not moving on. At the end of the day, the next generation of kids hopefully will have a different Boston that they grow up in."

Donald Trump Jr.

"Nothing surprises me with his family being out of control like they are. With what was said during the presidential election or trying to get Hillary Clinton. They are justifying, they're justifying potential espionage. There are justifying it. And justifying it through – the president of the United State of America is tweeting about it. About his son colluding with the Russians. I just, I don't get it."

Renovations to City Hall Plaza

"When you see the plan you're like, 'Oh wow, this is great - let's do it.' And you realize that to upgrade City Hall is going to cost $150 to $200 million. Like, 'Oh boy, hold on,' because when you have about $150 million a year to bond, you can't suck it all into the building here. And you also have to remember the building is not my building - it's the peoples building. So you have to make sure you do some work there. So we're slowly breaking in some of the plaza."

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