The Boston Teachers Union formally voted to recommend Councilors Rob Consalvo and Felix G. Arroyo for mayor Wednesday afternoon, in the group’s first mayoral endorsement in two decades.
“There were a few hundred people here from all over the city representing their colleagues and I think the result was very clear,” said Richard Stutman, the union president. “It was virtually unanimous. There were perhaps one or two dissenting votes, I think only one, to endorse the two candidates.”
The backing of the two candidates could provide them with a boost in the tight race in the crucial days before Tuesday’s preliminary election. Thousands of union members live in the city, and they could help Arroyo and Consalvo by getting the word out.
The endorsement awards each candidate $5,000 straight from the BTU, Stutman said. But Consalvo declined to accept the money last night. He has been pushing other candidates to sign a so-called people’s pledge, an agreement designed to limit spending by outside political groups.
“To avoid even the appearance of violating the people’s pledge, we’ll decline the $5,000,” said Consalvo’s spokesman, Kevin Franck. “Rob believes candidates should raise and spend their own money.”
Both hopefuls were present at the union’s lounge in Dorchester and gave small speeches after the decision was finalized. Supporters for candidates had a presence inside and outside, holding signs and handing out fliers.
The two candidates received applause and some standing ovations as they spoke to the crowd inside the lounge.
“I’m very proud to have the endorsement of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to educating our children,” Arroyo told the crowd. “I thank you.”
Arroyo said he would work to improve the public schools, “but we will do it by working with you, not against you,” he said. “We must give you the resources that you need. The conditions our teachers teach in are the same conditions our students learn in.”
Consalvo echoed the sentiment of appreciation.
“I’m so humbled and honored to accept your endorsement for the mayor of the city of Boston and I thank you so much,” he told the crowd. “I could not be more proud.”
Consalvo praised the teachers and parents and said he would be there to listen to their direct needs as mayor.
“The time for attacking public education, the time for attacking our teachers is over in the city of Boston. As mayor, I’m going to foster a dialogue that changes the climate.”
Earlier Thursday, Consalvo received an endorsement from the Network for Public Education, a national advocacy organization set on preserving and strengthening public schools.