Ray Flynn's Legacy: American Cities and the Progressive Agenda
Raymond Flynn won Boston's mayoralty in 1983 after a virtual tie in the preliminary election, as he and Mel King led a field of nine, each with approximately 29 percent of the votes. Both were neighborhood activists who had been in the state legislature. Both had been underdogs in the preliminary election, but defeated a better financed developer-friendly candidate. In the general election Flynn, white and from South Boston, won handily over King, a black who was on the faculty at MIT. The Boston Globe, endorsing Flynn, argued that he was in a better position to reach out to South Boston conservatives. One King supporter, perhaps unsurprised by the outcome, commented: "...they elected the two most pro neighborhood people as finalists and then what followed was ... neighborhood forums where you were hearing different theories of community empowerment and organizing ... it was really an education for the whole populace." In this retrospective, Peter Dreier, a housing activist who became Flynn's housing policy advisor, describes the results as they unfolded in City Hall: significant accomplishments against a troubled history marred by the busing conflicts of the previous decade.
Previously Published As
National Civic Review, Fall 1993, pp. 380-403