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^ impressive at RoxVote Forum : Evandro carvalho, chosen by 5th District voters in a special election last April.

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7th District hopeful Rufus faulk spoke generously on  issues that he had not anticipated being asked about. See the story below.

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Last night the Rox-Vote coalition, which promotes citizen interaction in campaigns much as does the League of Women Voters, held a legislature candidate Forum at Hibernain hall. Present were candidates running in the 7th Suffolk and 5th Suffolk State Representative Districts as well as the 2nd Suffolk State Senate race. About 50 local voters attended, including a delegation from the Winthrop Street Neighborhood association, which has recently surfaced to oppose the City of Boston’s plans to create an in-district charter school at the current Dearborn School location.

Some candidates showed themselves well prepared, others not so much. Candidates spoke from the podium and then interacted with small groups of voters at several tables. I was put at table seven and was able to ask pointed questions. The responses that I received proved quite revealing. More of that later.

Evandro Carvalho, now the 5th Suffolk District’s elected representative, gave the most authoritative introductory speech and answered voters questions just as strongly at my table, He has grown immensely since I first saw him as a candidate in the 5th Suffolk special election back in April. Then he could barely articulate any issue. last night he spoke in detail about many : the Dearborn school — the Cape Verdean special programs and the community’s potential loss of seats for local kids — charter school issuse, minimum age; and he adroitly answered a constituent question about an abandoned building that she lives next door to.

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Althea Garrison : former 5th District State Rep seeks comeback in Democratic Primary

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Claudette Joseph : an excellent, local activist resume may not be enough, considering she’s a Republican and shares the ‘socon’ views of the national GOP

Carvalho faces two candidates this fall, Democrat Althea Garrison and Republican Claudette Joseph. Garrison once represented the 5th and showed familiarity with budget issues. But when i asked her how the state will pay for needed transportation repairs and upgrades if, as she advocated, it rolled back the recent fare increase, her response was that there is much waste and corruption in the MBTA especially under Democratic governors, under Republican governors less so. Not exactly a responsive answer, and one quite peculiar for a Democrat to give ! As for Claudette Joseph, when i asked her why she advocates more charter schools, she said “because in the public schools (of her minority-populated district) there’s a direct line from school to prison.” Talk about oversimplification ! Joseph is also pro-life, of course, bit no one at my table cared to raise that issue.

The 7th District Forum was set back by not having its current representative present. Gloria Fox — whom I first encounter a full 45 years ago in a local Roxbury contest — had a family emergency and sent her aide Giovanny instead. I asked Giovanny a question asked also to candidate Rufus Faulk ; what moves are you making to assist the Northeastern students now abused in very substandard housing by a major dormitory slumlord (as the Globe has been reporting for months now) ? Neither she nor faulk had an answer; it was clear that they were unaware of the matter even though most of the affected slum dorms sit within the 7th Suffolk District. Faulk did, however, respond that he shared my concerns and would make it a pointy to be a voice for students consigned to slum dorms.

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^ conversing with activist voters : eric Esteves is also open to the needs of a rapidly changing 7th District

Candidate Eric Esteves spoke reasonably well, too, in his introduction; and he and i have previously discussed the student issue — he ws aware of it before I questioned him. It’s a curious issue for a 7th Suffolk representative. Most people think of the 7th Suffolk as a classic African American district, but it is not that at all. Its population is actually majority Caucasian; but the many voting precincts with almost entirely Caucasian residents have among the lowest voting numbers in the city, as most university students don’t relate to loacl elections. and thus a small but highly political African American community is able, thanks to a favorable districtking map, to have its own representatyive aided by about 20,000 residenhts few of whom vote. i asked this question of Faulk, too : what he did he intend to do about correcting this gerrymander ? He indicated that he would ask to sit on the legislature’s next redistricting committee.

Sonia chang-Diaz expressed pride at having participated in the legislature’s big hike to the minimum wage and of her six years of service to progressive agendas. But she left thde Forum early, before coming to my table and thus I could not ask her about her recently unsuccessful charter school cap legislation. Chang-diaz faces Roy Owens, a perennial candidate whose pro-life and “traditional family values (one man and one woman)” position has quite exhausted the patience of his District’;s very progressive-minded voters.

The Dearborn School matter — creating a STEM academy and in-district charter school — has become a major fight and a big problem for City of boston school upgrade plans. That the matter was raised — including the Winthrop Street group’s opposition to tearing down the current Dearborn school building, a proposal that they said they were never informed about (but they are not abutters) — at a Forum for state legislative candidates shows the issue has blown up well beyond its municipal status.

And today, just as I was preparing to publish this report, word came that the School department has withdrawn its plan to make the Dearborn a charter school.

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