By Seth Daniel
Since last March, District 2 Councilor-elect Ed Flynn has been hustling from campaign stop to campaign stop, from event to event, and from one forum to the next.
Fair to say he’s been in campaign mode the entire year.
So much so that, even after winning the campaign for the open District 2 seat on Nov. 7, one morning this week he was still working the room at Mike’s City Diner in the South End – shaking hands with some construction workers and chatting up the staff at the restaurant.
But it’s not so much a campaign carry over as it is just who Ed Flynn is, a new councilor who is ready to meet everyone and listen to everyone and represent everyone.
Flynn pulled out a close election win earlier this month with a strong showing in South Boston, and a good turnout in the South End and other parts of the district too – especially in communities of color, he said. It has historically been a hard sell in the South End when the sitting councilor is from South Boston, but Flynn said he is ready to change that perception and will work hard to do so when he officially takes office in January.
“I think I tried my best to let voters know I would work hard to represent everybody,” he said. “I’ve worked hard every day of my life. I served 25 years in the Navy and I wouldn’t have been successful in the Navy if I hadn’t worked hard. People who may not have voted for me, I’d like people to give me a chance and see my actions. My actions will show I will work hard. I’m just asking for a chance to work on everyone’s behalf to give their issues a voice. I’m here in the South End a lot since the election and I will work hard on the behalf of all neighbors in District 2.”
To add to that pledge, he said he would institute an Open Door policy at his office in City Hall from day one. That, he said, would mean no one has to have appointments to come in and see him or his staff. He said he wants to be accessible, and will also be committed to having office hours in the South End, Bay Village and other neighborhoods of District 2.
“I’m committed to that,” he said. “I want to bring City Hall to the neighborhood and help people with the issues and concerns they have.
He said he plans to have himself or staff attending as many meetings as possible in the South End.
Of particular interest right off the bat is the Opiate Epidemic and the issues it has caused in the South End with homelessness and addiction. Having been a probation agent for some years in charge of checking up on those who live on Long Island or in the homeless community, he said he is uniquely prepared to offer perspective.
One of those perspectives is getting Long Island Shelter back up and running sooner than later.
Flynn released a plan during the campaign to open Long Island using a ferry service and money from PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) programs with universities and colleges, as well as possibly using linkage funds and the South Boston Convention Center’s Car Rental Surcharge. That plan would also include a strategic medical and service partnership between BU Medical Center and the Boston Public Health Commission.
However, he said he is also aware that others in the neighborhood are passionate about other plans, such as using the Shattuck Hospital. He said he is willing to listen to those plans also.
“I don’t say my plan is the only plan,” he said. “The Shattuck also has merit. Based on my experience, I think the Long Island plan could work, but I’m willing to listen to anyone about another proposal. The key part is making sure those affected by drugs and alcohol have access to treatment.”
Other issues at the forefront right now, he said, is outreach to veterans and their families, pedestrian safety, keeping Boston affordable for working families, and addressing concerns about the public schools.
Flynn said one thing he likely won’t be is a councilor looking to address national issues at the Council level – as the Boston City Council has been prone to do in past years. He said he worked in the Clinton Administration in Washington, D.C., and knows national issues mostly belong on a national stage.
He said he knows district issues will belong to the district councilor.
“I do think people want the district councilor to focus on City issues and neighborhood concerns and quality of life issues,” he said. “We have a lot of quality of life issues to think about. I do think people want the district councilor to address issues that affect day to day life. The district councilor is the closest person to them in helping get issues resolved.”