^ District candidates. From Left : Andrea Campbell and Charles Yancey, District 4; Jean Claude Sanon and Tim McCarthy, District 5; Matt O’Malley, District 6

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Two days ago I wrote about the at-large City Council candidacies represented at Monday night’s Forum in Roslindale. This time I will analyze the two District races presented.

District 4 enjoys a classic contest between a long time incumbent and an aggressive challenger, a generational battle with 33-year old Andrea Campbell taking on Charles Yancey, age 67 and the Council’s longest-serving member. District 5’s race reprises that of 2013, as Jean Claude Sanon and Tim McCarthy competed to succeed Rob Consalvo. McCarthy won that race by about 7 to 5.

This time, Sanon appears not to have the strength that he wielded in 2013. Then, he had almost universal support from his Haitian community, which represents about a quarter of all District 5 voters. This time, McCarthy seems to enjoy a fair level of support from Haitians active in the District. Certainly McCarthy has worked almost 24-7 to gain such credibility, and it was no surprise that at the Forum he was able to read off a long list of city facility upgrades he secured for every corner of the District (he made sure to mention every corner of it by name). Sanon, meanwhile, was unable, at the Forum, to articulate what he would, or could, do differently.

This was a surprise to me, as in 2013 I watched Sanon, a long-time community activist,speak out with conviction about the aspirations and expectations of his supporters. He did so at one Cleary Square rally I attended, where, backed by Ayanna Pressley, Felix G. Arroyo, State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, former State Senator Bill Owens, and others, he challenged his community to vote in strength for this, that, and that. No such event has occurred this time that i am aware of.

Most candidates at Forums pack the room with supporters to cheer them on; Sanon had few in the Forum audience

The District 4 race, by contrast, featured two intense, well funded and heavily organized candidacies. At the Forum, it showed. Campbell the Princeton graduate and  Yancey the Harvardian responded with clarity and authority to the questions asked. Each played his role expertly : Yancey the long-term Councillor with a compendium of accomplishments, Campbell the challenger articulating a new agenda. (Disclosure : I too am a Princeton graduate and have played a seminal role in organizing Princeton alumni for her campaign.)

Yancey recited his resume smoothly and referenced the person who gave him his entree into politics, his formidable mother Alice Yancey, a long-time Boston Public Schools activist; Campbell narrated her own up-from-poverty life story, at least as compelling as Yancey’s,

Campbell is quite the policy wonk herself. Forum emcee Rachel Poliner asked all candidates a question about Boston’s affordable housing future, only Campbell cited that morning’s Boston Globe front page story in which the mayor announced that he would require a higher proportion of affordable units be included in future development.

Yancey and Campbell have become beneficiaries of activist participation beyond the usual in such local races.  Yancey’s referencing his Boston Public Schools mother signals the vigorous support he is now receiving from opponents of charter school cap lift; meanwhile, Campbell, whose statements about schools suggest that she is open to charter cap lift, has become a focus for District 4’s many charter cap lift parents — and their support organizations. As support for the Governor’s charter cap lift legislation (and for the ballot initiative to do the same) runs almost universal in Boston’s communities of color (COC), and as District 4 has a COC majority, Campbell would seem to have the better position.

Certainly she had the better position in the primary, in which she routed Yancey by 1892 votes to 1159. I can’t recall seeing a District incumbent beaten by that big a percentage. And Campbell has only added strength; Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins has put himself and his whole organization on the line for her, in a way that I don’t often encounter.

What, then, do I predict for these two races ? Here’s my best shot : in District 5, McCarthy bests Sanon by two to one. In District 4, Yancey closes the gap — triples his vote — thanks to a much larger voter turnout, but Campbell more than doubles hers and wins it all, 4,440 votes to  3,480.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere