KEVIN H. WHITE has been mayor of Boston for 12 years and that's long enough for anyone. His successes in City Hall must not be overlooked, of course: he helped to calm the city's racial disturbances and his well-oiled machine has brought more federal funds to the city. But his political use of the city's thousands of employees and his failure to funnel money either north or south of his pet projects exemplify the machine brand of politics he practices. To the tune of a million dollars in campaign spending, White wants to be the Richard Daley of the East, a mimicry that Boston should not endure.
Of the major alternatives, State Rep. Melvin H. King advocates the progressive policies that Boston needs in the 1980s. King supports public housing cooperatives, opposes vacancy decontrol and has a realistic and humane grasp of the city's crime and health problems. King is not garden variety Boston mayoral candidate; he is not white, he is not Irish and he does not descend from an unbroken line of Boston pols. If Boston voters are looking for a creative, forward-looking mayor, King is a logical choice.
State Sen. Joseph F. Timilty, whose campaign has become a painful exercise in redundancy, has spent too much time criticizing White and not enough time talking about his own plans for the city. This year, the perennial challenger has talked a lot about the vague concept of "neighborhoods," but nobody can spell out what he means--and more importantly--what he would do. To make matters worse, some say Timilty does not write his own political scripts. And many believe he simply lacks the competence to govern the city.
In a predominantly issueless campaign, Boston School Committee President David Finnegan has outlined some concrete policy proposals that make sense for Boston. Finnegan's record on the School Committee has been solid; he supports vacancy decontrol, has had experience in fighting racism and wants to draw the city's diverse elements together. But Finnegan seems overly sympathetic to the needs of the private sector. His embarrassing resignation from his $20,000 a year job as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry is only symptomatic of such leanings.
In today's preliminary election, the most the Boston voters can hope for is a change in the political scenery. We can only ask that in the final election, the candidates concentrate more on the issues, and less on personalities.