Not Mr. Sociability, rather Boston mayoral candidate David James Wyatt showed at Boston Latin School today.
The two-hour event, sponsored by Boston League of Women Voters and enabled by the work of the BLS Ward Fellows, was to be a speed-dating afternoon. All 12 candidates showed and they were to career from one classroom to another, where they'd pitch and respond to students and adults. It was to be 10 minutes per classroom, so all dozen could make the rounds in those two hours. Of course, the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley...and mildly astray they did go.
Numerous candidates, notably the running man, Mike Ross, were late. After the assemblage onstage for quick intros, and breaking into classroom lumps, we got to hear from half the gang.
Disclaimers: That was OK by me. I know several of them well. Many have been guests on Left Ahead this year and previously. Rob Consalvo has been my district Councilor for over for years and has performed constituent services for me. A post follows tomorrow or Thursday on the candidates I did hear.
Today though, I got a better sense of the arcane Wyatt.
His standard rap when pressed, as at the NECN/Herald TV thingummy is:
- I am a Republican
- I am 100% pro-life
- If I am not elected Mayor, no one will represent people like me
That is certainly not the most complete, sophisticated, reasoned or compelling platform in the race. Also, he has virtually no campaign funds, his website is a one-page ho-hum, where the only option, the Donate button, doesn't even work. He makes next to no campaign appearances and apparently doesn't even bother to fill out the various questionnaires sent to all the dozen.
We over-informed wonks have wondered how serious he could be. He's run a few quixotic races before — a 2001 write-in mayoral and a 2007 at-large Councilor try when he got enough sigs for the ballot. He had negligible showings. That hasn't stopped him from repeating, quasi accurately that he is the only one of the dozen who has run for mayor before. Well, ta da.
I confess that I had not contacted him for a show on Left Ahead. He seemed to have a one-minutes, thirty-seven second stump speech.
He did a bit better this afternoon.
He spoke to about ten eighth and ninth graders and four adults. He appeared to feel we had cooties. It mirrored his arrival on the stage at the beginning of the event. A dozen Harvard-style armchairs spanned from the American flag pole to the lectern. Wyatt arrived after most candidates and went to far stage left, leaving three seats open from where another eight of them had sat and were chatting and laughing.
He was our last candidate of the afternoon in the classroom, 217, if I recall correctly. Each of the others had acted the pol, entering, quickly turning to face the desks, looking at each of us to connect, and standing in the center to speak intimately with us.
Wyatt dd not. He is large and lumbers. He looked unhappy to be there and scanned the room like he was looking for hidden exits if necessary. He continued to the rear, where a teacher might sit and found the chair most removed from the audience. He did not stand, did not have personal eye contact, and kept his distance.
As he spoke, he fairy chanted. "I am a conservative. I'm going to try to spend as little of the taxpayers' money as possible." Of course, he did not seem to revel in the humor of speaking to nominal at best taxpayers and an age group that was not attune to such clichés.
He went on that if he became mayor, his conservatism would mean that jobs in Boston would only go to the most qualified. Nepotism was flat out.
He fairly gleamed when he said that as a Republican he was "stingy with money." He did explain that the underlying philosophy was to help taxpayers keep as much of their money as possible, to use for their own purposes.
Fortunately for him, the students did not seem all that politically savvy. Wyatt did however admit that the other candidates had much fuller platforms and résumés that lent themselves to clear answers to big questions. "I can only speculate," he said, "how I could handle those issues."
His forte or at least passion was education. He seems to have had a short BPS teaching career although he said his mother taught for over 40 years.
In this context, he was the most eloquent I've heard him. His posture is that if you get a good education, leading to a good career, you have "no need for anyone to be doing anything that is illegal or violent...education takes care of public safety."
He added that if we get our schools perking right, companies from outside the city and state will move here, bring jobs with them.
He then returned unbidden to speak of his pro-life position. He was selectively open in speaking of his apparently wrenching decisions at the end of his mother's life. In his version, there were other siblings, but he alone had to decide whether to prolong her life regardless, balanced against her comfort.
Obviously, there's much more to that story. He did not tell us whether he had to make a pull-the-plug type of decision or whether in her case he became maybe 72% pro-life. Regardless, this is personal with him and why he forever brings it up.
In a corollary, he said that he was against capital punishment. One would think that being pro-life would build that right in. Instead, he said that as the poor cannot afford the best legal representation that the rich can, capital punishment is unfair and it is usually the poor who are executed.
I couldn't tell whether the students were tired at this point, after a day at school and two hours of snappy patter. Regardless, they had no questions. There were still several minutes before the end bell, so I asked how his pro-life position would affect and inform his role as mayor.
He didn't go all winger dumb. He said that he did not think there were regulatory or legislative ways for him to affect the city here. Instead, he referred to the bully pulpit. He figures that his speech as mayor would be more powerful and influential than that of other folk.
He concluded that, "Life begins as conception and it should not be interrupted for any light cause."