City Councilor Tito Jackson, the first black candidate to make it to the Boston mayoral final in 34 years, walked onto to tonight’s debate stage substantially behind incumbent mayor Marty Marty Walsh. The two sparred for an hour over everything from affordable housing to the state of the Boston Public Schools to whether police officers should wear body cameras. WGBH News' Senior Editor Peter Kadzis and reporter Adam Reilly watched the debate and had some thoughts about how the candidates did tonight.

Reilly: Jackson spent the first 10 minutes of the debate giving the most forceful critique of Walsh's approach to Boston's affordable housing problem that I've heard over the course of this campaign. And then — responding to Jim Braude's question about that incendiary suggestion that, in the Boston Latin School case, Walsh took a stance that suggested he didn't believe black lives matter — Jackson offered a tight, effective summary of the ways in which life for black Bostonians is different, and worse, than for white Bostonians. (Jackson also dodged Braude's question pretty blatantly, but given his efficacy before and after that dodge, I'm inclined to give him a pass.) I've argued for a while now that there's often a scattershot approach to Jackson's critiques of the status quo; he seems so eager to hit Walsh on every imaginable point that the impact of any one line of attack is muted. But not tonight.

Kadzis: Adam, I have to say that I thought neither one connected with reality. Walsh is correct to point out that failed national policies are at the root of Boston's economic inequality. His tone wasn't right. So many of Walsh's political problems stem from his tone. He tries, so he shouldn't be criticized. Tito on the other hand came off as passionate. But his tone suggested that Walsh was personally responsible. As for the police, Walsh should thank his stars that Bill Evans is commissioner. I'm amazed at the big dodge Walsh pulls off with body cameras. He's going to study the issue until there are body cameras on Mars. Tito should be bold on police and diversity. He should say that the civil service is broken and needs to be replaced.

Reilly: So glad you mentioned tone, Peter. As the evening has progressed, I've gotten a sense of why Walsh was reluctant to debate Jackson more than twice. It's not just because he's an incumbent with a big lead for whom the smart move is to minimize risk. It's (also) because when Walsh is challenged he has a tendency to sound peevish or whiny. As for body cams, I have a sneaky suspicion that Walsh is going to nix them once and for all if he's elected to a second term. It's plain as day he doesn't like the idea of them or the effect he believes they have on his police force. 

Kadzis: Walsh is lucky. The police have been doing a good job. Crime is down. But the odds are that at some point there will be a mishap. Walsh enjoys the rank and file support of union members, not the official union. This whole business of studying body cameras to death is about protecting the police from public scrutiny. It's simple.

Reilly: Peter, I was going to ask you about Walsh casting the failed Olympics bid as a resume achievement, but but then, lo and behold, Jackson went hard at the mayor on taxpayer money being spent to pay two City Hall aides, Ken Brissette and Tim Sullivan, as they await trial on federal extortion charges. Jackson said that arrangement is improper. Walsh said, without really explaining himself, that Jackson's claims were inaccurate, and that's where the discussion ended. I'll be candid: I really wish we'd heard more. My sense is that the arrangement the Walsh administration has reached with Brissette and Sullivan as they await trial is highly unusual.

Kadzis: Jackson was right and the mayor was, well, politically self serving. The Boston Globe endorsed Walsh despite the Brissette and Sullivan indictments, so my guess is that Walsh isn't sweating it. That doesn't change the fact that when a cop is indicted, he or she is suspended without pay. If said cop is exonerated, then their back pay is restored. I still find it amazing that the mayor won't say whether or not he has been before a grand jury. Bear in mind that I think the federal case is most likely a stretch. But Walsh has skated on how this was handled.

Reilly: Peter, I'm comfortable, at this point, saying that Jackson won this debate. Probably not in a way that'll change the fundamental dynamics of the race. Walsh's financial and structural advantages (including incumbency) are just so big. I say that partly because of Walsh's deep aversion to being questioned, but also because Jackson also seemed a lot more disciplined than I've seen him before. His arguments were made simply and forcefully, without the distractions that frequently seem to sidetrack him mid-point.

Beyond that, though, Jackson came across as someone who thinks big changes need to be made and is excited about the possibility of making them. Walsh, in contrast, didn't just seem testy; he actually sounded (at least to my ear) unenthusiastic on too many occasions. Not his strongest showing.

Kadzis: I found the debate frustrating. Neither Walsh nor Jackson suggested new ways to think about old problems. But I'm probably expecting too much. I'd say Jackson won. But he won on points. Jackson did not score a knock out. Having declared Jackson the winner, I wish I could ask him two questions. First, does he think that Boston City Hall is more powerful that the real estate market? And, second, without closing or consolidating semi-empty public schools, where is he going to get the money to make all of the educational improvements he promised?