Sneak peek into life of Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh

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November 4, 2013, 10:06 am
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(NECN: Alison King, Boston, Mass.) - 46-year-old Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh may be a bachelor, but don't tell his longtime girlfriend that he doesn't have a family.

"He does have a family. He has his mom and his brother and me and Lauren. He's a big family man, Marty," says Lorrie Higgins.

Walsh and Higgins have known each other for decades, having grown up in the same Dorchester neighborhood, but the relationship started eight years ago when they were both working at the State House, and Marty, a State Rep., worked up the nerve to ask her out.

"It was a date for me, lunch for her."

"It was a lunch."

"It worked. She didn't agree to go on a date, so I said, let's go to lunch and she agreed to lunch."

"Yes, and it went well."

But Higgins, a single mother of a young daughter, holding down two jobs, was not focused at that time on a boyfriend.

"I chased her, she said no. I chased her some more, she said no. And, she said no. And, now I think she wishes she still said no."

"It was all about timing. It just happened. My daughter was 14 at the time."

Daughter Lauren is now 21-years-old, a Deans List student at UMass Boston.

"I view Lauren in a lot of ways as my daughter. I'm protective of her. I give her advice and try to keep an eye on her."

"He's very good at it. Better than me sometimes."

"Her boyfriend now, we had a conversation."

Walsh and Higgins live just a few blocks apart, not far from where Walsh grew up, in a Dorchester triple decker. Walsh is the son of Irish immigrants. His father worked for the union, his mother raised Marty and his brother. It was a pretty typical upbringing...until seven-year-old Marty was diagnosed with cancer.

"It was pretty bad when I was diagnosed. They gave me like, three weeks to live...all the nuns were praying for me. The nuns at Saint Margarets deemed me the miracle boy when I got better."

Walsh had to miss most of 2nd and 3rd grade. By high school, Walsh was at the private Newman Prep in the Back Bay, but Walsh concedes he was never a great student. He went to Quincy College for a year to get his grades up, then transferred to Suffolk University for a semester. But, other options were calling.

"I knew you could make money in the construction field and I had the opportunity if I wanted it. So, I dropped out of school and went to work construction."

After three years in construction, Walsh took a job, still with the unions, as a collection agent with the Labor Health and Welfare Fund. It was around this time that some of Walsh's co-workers started to hint to him that he might have a problem with his drinking.

"I just didn't think it was. But, then I started to disappoint people and it just kind of spiraled. It was ruining holidays and ruining other occasions and blacking out, but I would drink at different times with different people."

It all came to a head in April of 1995.

"I was still going to work, but it was just, the feelings inside were just guilt, remorse, shame, all those feelings you get as an alcoholic were bubbling up inside of me."

Walsh went to rehab, where he came to grips with his alcoholism. He's been sober ever since.

"You hear it every now and then. You can't drink? No, you can't have one. No, not even one? No. No. People don't understand it, but my life is unbelievable today because of getting into recovery."

Walsh finished his college degree taking night classes at Boston College. His lifelong love of politics lead him to a State Rep. race, which he won in 1997. Almost three years ago, Walsh took a second job as head of the Building Trades in Boston. But, he resigned last spring to run for mayor, a job he says he's dreamed of for years.

Asked what qualities would make Walsh a good mayor?

"Oh, he has a lot. That's good. Helping people. He loves to help people all the time," says Lorrie.

Tags: Boston, Mayor , Alison King, politics, Marty Walsh
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