BOSTON ELECTION : DIFFERENCES APLENTY AT ROX-VOTE’S DISTRICT 7 COUNCIL FORUM

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^ insurgent (and endorsed by Doris Bunte) : Jamahrl Crawford acts out at RoxVote Forum

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Last night the RoxVote Coalition hosted a Forum for District 7’s three Council candidates, followed by a Forum for the at-Large Council candidates. This report focuses on the District 7 Race, one of three District contests that we are paying close attention to.

The Forum gathered at Hibernian Hall on Dudley Street, and differences aplenty displayed themselves. One saw Tito Jackson, the incumbent, well dressed, well informed, almost professorial as he articulated his council service in detail; Jamahrl Crawford, his main challenger, passionate, a classic insurgent with a long, long history of activism; and Roy Owens, a quiet slender man who has run for office numerous times and whose issue is that City hall should work its Roxbury agenda through faith-based communities.

Time and again Crawford insurged his campaign demands : for housing afforability; that the Roxbury innovation Initiative needs all kinds of enterprises; that city services should revive the RISE movement; that gentrification of the District should mean economic development. Crawford spoke rapidly and intensely, a preacher inspiring. His presentation harked back to an earlier time, when oratory glowed hot onto the faces of listeners; yet it also elicited more applause from the 100 or so voters on hand than either Jackson or Owens. He talked at length about his grandmother, living on the third floor of their Ruthven street house even at her age and being feisty, not one to pander to (as Crawford said politicians do too often when addressing seniors); and this, too, drew applause from many.

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^ detailed answers to all questions but one : Councillor Tito Jackson at RoxVote Forum

Jackson, by contrast, answered every question by narrating the actions he has taken to address the problem or advance the initiative. His housing plan is a three on three : one-third low income housing, one third affordable, and one third market rate. Jackson proposed communication and coffee hours as his constituent outreach proposal. He opined at length about the Boston Police’s Safe Streets task force and the need for the City’s Public Health Commission to rate crime a health problem.

About the Roxbury Innovation Center, Jackson noted that Tim Rowe of Cambridge innovation has committed to run it; but he did not give any answer as to why he was not present when his Council colleague John Connolly, with several prominent Roxbury business leaders at his side, announced his support for said Center. It was at that point that Crawford responded, “we should have had one years ago !”

As for Roy Owens, I mean no disrespect in reporting that his answers were hard to hear, seemed to ramble or disconnect from the question when one could hear them, and often included banter with his two rivals, inaudible except to them. Many in the audience chortled. His was obviously a presence well known to them and long since dismissed. Owens’s one serious point was that all City services should be funneled through “faith based communities.” In a District whose people are so well and diversely led by pastors and church congregations, his call did not seem to me an isolated gasp or readily dismissable. But a generational gulf separated it from Crawford’s protest speeches and Jackson’s managerial steadiness.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR : CONNOLLY SAYS “I’M THE UNDERDOG”

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^ the underdog in South Boston with St rep Nick Collins and, on the left, a man whom you may recognize —  and his son.

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After weeks of leading in the polls for Mayor of Boston, John Connolly today anointed himself the underdog. He even had a poll to prove it. This morning he allowed the Globe to observe as he gave a talk to his finance committee in which he revealed that his campaign’s internal poll shows the race now tied, 43 to 43. This, after a Globe poll last week found Connolly leading 47 to 38 (with leaners assigned). Connolly declared that poll “an outlier’ and said that in fact another poll last week, showing him ahead only 41 to 39, was more accurate.

The release, by Connolly himself, of a poll so bad for him puzzled many. Walsh people gloated that he, the “candidate of working families,” as his spin doctors put it, “had huge momentum.” And doubtless the news of said poll invigorated the already vigorous Walsh door-knockers. So why, then, did Connolly make such a move ?

The answer should be obvious.

By assuming the position of underdog, Connolly gave himself three huge advantages :

1.People who had simply assumed that Connolly would be the next Mayor now had to think again; to contemplate — envision — confront — Walsh as Mayor, with all of its implications, many of them not good for the fisc. This is why Connolly has been gradually stressing — and is now emphasizing — his mastery of the City budget, ahead of his original stance as “the education Mayor.”

2.Given the mountain of big-pol endorsements given to Walsh in the past 16 days, and reports of a tidal wave of Labor Union money from all over, Connolly said something like, “OK, Marty, you ant to be the overdog ? Go right head, be the overdog.  by all means — be my guest !”

3.People like underdogs. They want the small guy to beat the big guy. If not, Sylvester Stallone would not be a multi millionaire today. (As I mention a lot, it is 1959 all over again; John F. Collins with few endorsers against John E. Powers with all of them. Collins won.)

Lastly, with their man now drawing the underdog card, Connolly’s workers can no longer be complacent. Their man is NOT going to coast to a ten-point victory. They will have to work for it — work hard and long and with the foul winds of desperation at their backs. Connolly’s voters too. They know they can’t stay home on election day.

This is the mindset you want your organization to have going into the last week before election day. You want your people committed to aee you win. Connolly as underdog is putting his people to that test. As well he should.

As for Walsh’s people, they need to know this, and I am sure that the smartest of them already knows it : Walsh has bet the farm on his winning.

If he does not do so, likely it is that there will never be another significant Mayor campaign from a base tribally Irish and Union labor. Walsh’s city is receding into history. Indeed, even if Connolly does not win, the society whence Walsh’s core support arises will dwindle and calcify as stony as the statue of Paul Revere in the North End. There already IS a new Boston. entirely new. It is fresh and exciting, open and flush with innovation. It can only grow, and pollenate and bloom, because there is no other way forward. This the Walsh people sense. They’re in  a race against time.  It’s why they have felt such heat, all campaign long, as Connolly seeks to apply to his people, now, with all the marbles anted in.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere