BOSTON MAYOR RACE : CONNOLLY, WALSH, and ARROYO IN COMMAND at SOUTH END BUSINESS ALLIANCE FORUM

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^ Charles Clemons, John Connolly, and felix Arroyo at SEBA Forum

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Last night’s Mayoral Forum at the Calderwood Center on Tremont Street asked the most pointed questions and addressed more topics than at any Forum we’ve observed so far. It being the South End, heart and stomach — excellent hors d’oeuvres were served in the foyer — of the “new Boston,” comprehensiveness was to be expected. Basic just won’t do for a locus of million-dollar condos.

Hosted by the South End Business Alliance — SEBA — the Forum gathered an audience of about 200. it was a well informed group, with definite preferences: favorable answers from the candidates drew approving cheers and applause; unfavorable ones were given the silent treatment. There was plenty of each.

That said, this Forum made clear what has portended for some time now : that the leading candidates, according to polls, are leading for good reason. They have greatest command of the issues — big and not so big — and of how to address them. Connolly, Walsh, and Arroyo made their points with specificity, each man inputting his own expertise and vision, each speaking his own language — and doing so with persuasive conviction. For Connolly, that meant the most modern of cities : zipcar, apple store, user-friendly, bicycles, lifestyle diversity — and biolab 4. For Arroyo, it meant a city in which pathways out of poverty are a priority. Marty Walsh saw a partnership city, between business and labor, the Mayor working in team with the City Council and with the Boston delegation to the state Legislature.

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^ an audience informed and knowing what they want

The other candidates on stage — Charlotte Golar-Richie worked the foyer but did not sit in; Consalvo and Wyatt made no appearance at all — answered less strongly. Mike Ross, who has spoken eloquently at earlier Forums, seemed less in command here — perhaps it was the questions, which did not fit his vision of fun city — restaurants, liquor licenses, and neighborhood nightlife. His best answer fitted that slot : “Yes I am a supporter of food trucks (which SEBA’s restaurant members don’t like), but keep in mind that some good food trucks have stepped up to be bricks-and-mortar restaurants.”

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^ Mike Ross : food trucks to restaurants

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^ John Barros : seeing City hall from his neighborhood (Mike Ross to his right)

John Barros and Bill Walczak spoke from the viewpoint of their particular experience ; schools for Barros, the Codman square Health Center for Walczak. The tactic made their answers sound provincial. a Mayor should see the neighborhoods from City hall. Barros and Walczak did the reverse : looked at City hall from a neighborhood. And Walczak, as always, offered his “no casino” mantra.

Dan Conley stayed at the Forum only long enough to respond to a twenty-question round robin of “yes, no, or thinking about it” quickie answers to this or that one-word issue : casinos, liquor licenses, South Boston parade, audit the city, change the BRA, and such like. As for Charles Yancey and Charles Clemons, each made a couple of notable points — specific to their personal resumes — but both lacked preparation, and it showed.

Each candidate was asked what was his proudest moments, in public life and in his work. Marty Walsh answered thus : “protecting jobs. We passed legislation which has allowed technology companies to bring in new jobs that for he most part were in California. But hey, it wasn’t just about me. (It’s) working with a team. It’s not just you, it’s going to be working collaboratively.”

Then Felix Arroyo : “my proudest moment on the Council ? There was an attempt to close our city’s libraries. I was instrumental in stopping that. Before that, the work that I did in organizing janitors. They were making eight dollars an hour,. now they’re making fifteen.”

Connolly : “most important council work ? getting a strict energy efficient city code passed. as an attorney, my proudest moment wa represennting a client, pro bono, two guys here in the South End (who were victims) in a gay-bashing case.”

Another not so typical Forum question was then posed ; ‘have you started thinking about who you would include in your administration — in your cabinet — as Mayor ?” The strongest candidates gave the most intriguing and thoughtful answers.

Walsh : “a new superintendent of schools first…the hierarchy of the Police department should be revamped. Look at the Fire department too. Include all the city in my discussions and decisions.”

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^ Marty Walsh : vows big changes at the Police department

Connolly : “new generation, new leadership. Superintendant of schools — how about one who is non-traditional ? A city-wide summit on public health. Begin overhauling city hall to be user-friendly.”

Arroyo : “A diverse cabinet that shares my values. A superintendant of schools who knows that you have to work with everyone.”

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^ john Connolly and Felix Arroyo : will they work with the Council ? So they say…

Next came a question guaranteed to elicit an unreal answer: “how will you as Mayor work with the City Council ?”

Connolly : “We are better when we disagree. I want a council that is bold and independent. Disagreement makes us better.” (to which I comment : “sounds good, but that’s not how it plays out. The Mayor may let the council gripe, but he has the power and the Council doesn’t.”)

Arroyo — “The Council is there because the voters put them there. But more importantly” — and here he pointed to the Forum audience — “I want to work with YOU !” (to which I comment : “a slick way of ducking the question !”)

Walsh : “The city council is a partner. I would also include the Boston legislative delegation and also legislators from around the state. The mayor can’t do it alone, he’s not a dictator.” (to which I comment “no, but the Mayor often thinks he is.”)

By this time the Forum had shredded badly. Conley first, but then Ross, Barros, Clemons, even Connolly, one after the other, had to leave to attend other events. Only Arroyo and Walsh said they were here for the duration.

They all apologized, of course. But as the race is now well into crunch time, every candidate with any chance at all has more events on his or her daily schedule than could be attended in three days. And so it goes. rush, greet, rush, talk, rush, talk, greet, talk, rush. You want to keep up ? You will have to rush, rush too.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : WALSH, ARROYO, BARROS and ROSS DOMINATE YOUTH GROUP FORUM

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^ the Nine : Yancey, Wyatt, walsh, Walczak, empty chair (Ross came later), Golar-Richie, Clemons, Barros, Arroyo

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Nine of the 12 candidates running to be Boston’s next Mayor took their seats at tonight’s Youth Group Forum held at the newly steepled parish Church on Meeting House Hill in Dorchester. About 150 residents of the neighborhood sat in the old New England pews to listen as the Mayors-to-be answered questions posed by speakers selected by the Cape Verdean Community UNIDO’s Youth Leadership Academy.

Dan Conley, John Connolly, and Rob Consalvo did not participate.

Questions to the candidates addressed dual-language education, school reform and preparation for technology jobs, and how to curb violence in the community. Mike Ross — who arrived late, but apologized — gave strong answers; even stronger, John Barros and Felix Arroyo, whose eloquence is second no nobody’s on behalf of those who live in Boston but lack access to the best. Strongest of all, surprisingly, was Marty Walsh, who had obviously prepared himself for the types of questions likely to be asked him. He spoke deliberately, in detail and with feeling, applying his work as a legislator and stating his goals for changing how the Mayor’s office confronts the problems that this Forum’s youth sponsors will be dealing with.

One issue that has turmoiled Boston voters recently, that of a longer school day, was settled. All the “major” candidates called for a longer school day, even Felix Arroyo, who has aligned himself with the Boston Teachers Union most closely of all the hopefuls. He, Walsh, and Barros gave the directest answers on what a longer school day should focus on. Barros’s call for a two-shift teaching force might roil the BTU a bit, however.

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^ John Barros (Felix Arroyo on his right): “for the longer school day we should have teacher shifts, an early shift for the morning and lunch hours and a late shift for the afternoon.”

On the question of dual language schools, Both Arroyo and Barros spoke with personal experience. Said Arroyo,  “I grew up in a subsidized apartment with immigrant parents who spoke ‘espagnol.’ I know what it’s like to grow up among kids who I did not understand because they spoke English… we have only four dual language schools. Parents of all backgrounds want dual language education. Look at the Hernandez School, it works well. I look for the day when we have many different language’d dual-language schools. French, Cape Verdean Creole, even Mandarin. Why not mandarin ?”

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^ Felix Arroyo (John Barros on his left) speaking to the schools issue : “every Boston school child deserves the best education because every child is a best child.”

Barros ; “I’m a son of cape Verdean immigrants. When I joined the city’s school committee, and in my work, I fought to assure that all Boston public school students learn English fully.” These sentiments were of course reiterated by other candidates at the forum, of whom Charlers Clemons nloted that he was ideally suited to understand the disconnecvgt between studenyts who come to bostyon with anoyher language and the Ejglish-language adyuklt world. “Not by language but by my heritage. My father descends from slaves brought here on slave ships; my mother from the Brewsters on the Mayflower.”

It was a memorable, if not conclusively Mayoral moment. And led almost inevitably to Walsh’s comment : “My parents didn’t face a language challenge, but they were challenged too. Both had less than a high school diploma.” Walsh, who grew up and still lives in the Dorchester section directly abutting Meeting House Hill, discussed the funding process for dual language education and his part in it as a 16-year legislator. He concluded with a challenge: “We should have two different kinds of dual-language schools. When a child’s first language is English, we should have them learn another language !”

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^ Marty Walsh ; “with a longer school day we shouldn’t just have more classroom but also some programs, the arts.”

The question on preparation for graduating to the City’s best jobs brought this comment by Arroyo : “The next mayor has to have as a priority closing the ‘achievement gap.’ And it begins very young. If a child falls behind in the third grade, even , it is already too late. We need to teach financial literacy, too, to all our children.”

Walsh ; “we don’t just need to change our city’s jobs policy for the kids, We need to rewrite it. Right now we’re being sued because our city jobs policy doesn’t meet the US Constitution !”

Many of he candidates mentioned Madison park High School — the technical high school closest to Meeting House Hill — in their answers to this question. Barros ; “We absolutely do invest in technical High schools in Boston. Now we have to make sure that Madison park has a technology center. And more ; Boston residency, for Boston jobs.”

Charles Clemons, a former Boston police officer, was skeptical ; “residency policy ? It has never been enforced. We give parking tickets and licensing fines but we don;t enforce residency. Why not ?”

The forum moved on to discussing the problem of violence in the Meeting House Hill neighborhood and others.  Many of the candidates addressed the issue well.

Mike Ross had now joined the group and, with his usual grasp of big-picture basics, said : “there’s diversity needed (on the police force). It’s not OK that there is not one police captain of color nor one who is female….the opposite of violence is opportunity (for kids at risk).”

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^ Mike Ross : was at another event; apologized for coming late; and, as always, spoke well and to the point

Arroyo : “there’s a short term strategy and a long term strategy. Short term : back to community policing. Police bicycling through the community. Long term : if we are not serious about ending the cycle of poverty we’re not serious about reducing crime.”

Walsh, who has said “there’s a heroin epidemic in the City right now,” gave this pledge : “(if I’m elected,) The first meeting that i will have in my office will be on violence. we have to attack this problem one street at a time, one family at a time.”

I have highlighted the answers given by candidates Walsh, Arroyo, Barros,and Ross most of all because they addressed the questions, gave answers which signal that some thought has taken place in the brains about these issues, and demonstrated seriousness about doing the job, not just campaigning for it. The other candidates present either gave rambling, conversational responses — Charlotte Golar-Richie — or ones that seemed too narrowly focused, locally and in minutiae — Charles Clemons and Bill Walczak. Others of the nine on stage seemed to be talking more to themselves than to the voters. One wonders why they are running. At this stage, with less than five weeks till Primary day, there’s no time left for candidacies that won’t, or can;t command the issues on a large scale. Mayor of Boston is the most difficult political job, maybe, in all New England. Fumble-itis, vagueness, and circuitous thinking are NOT in the job description.

BOSTON MAYOR : ROSS, CONNOLLY, ARROYO, AND WALSH IN COMMAND AT MAIN STREETS COALITION FORUM; DAN CONLEY EFFECTIVE TOO

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^ the Twelve : Arroyo, Barros, Clemons, Conley, Connolly, Consalvo, Golar-Richie, Ross, Walczak, Walsh, Wyatt, Yancey

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Supporters of Mike Ross, John Connolly, Felix Arroyo, and Marty Walsh can sleep well tonight.  At the Forum held by the Main Streets coalition of 20 Coalition members, their candidates spoke well informed on every topic asked, indeed eloquently at times. Each seems to have his vision of the mayor’s mission well in place, and each saw the questions — mostly the concerns of small, neighborhood business, because that is what the Main Streets program is about — authoritatively in their particular mission’s terms. Dan Conley spoke effectively too, albeit in detail only — no grand themes did he embrace.

At a Forum, a candidate uses forensic skills. Speaking at a podium or into a microphone isn’t all that matters to a campaign — far from it — but voters do want to know that the candidates they are assessing can speak to the issues on voters’ minds and do so boldly, without resort to talking points. At the main Streets Coalition Forum, held in Upham’s Corner’s Strand Theater, the five candidates so far mentioned aced the test. If only the theater had been more full. It holds easily 1200 people, but most seats were empty. Let’s say that 300 were in the room, many of them supporters of local favorites John Barros, who lives nearby; Charlotte Golar-Richie, who lives almost as close by as Barros; and Felix Arroyo.

The evening had its highlights. Each of the effective speakers chalked up several.

On the question of what to do with the BRA, Marty Walsh and John Connolly answered well. Said Walsh : “Certain things are working, but much is lacking. Costs of construction don’t get figured properly. Main Streets organizations aren’t told where to apply to fill slots on their boards.” Connolly gave this answer : “going into the BRA should be like walking into an apple store : serve the customer. We should utilize technology to make the BRA’s services more user friendly. There should be a time limit on all BRA Board members. we should know how the BRA plans to create jobs and housing.”

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^ John Connolly ; an apple store government, with equity funding for small businesses

Even stronger was Ross’s answer : “Remove all affordable housing plans from the BRA. We shouldn’t decentralize the BRA in the middle of a building boom, but affordable housing must be the first principle of any developer’s plans.” Conley’s answer was also memorable : “the BRA has a lack of predictability, accountability, transparency. I will publish all BRA decisions on my website. Splitting the BRA would hurt its effectiveness.”

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^ Dan Conley : no big vision, but much useful reform

As these answers make clear, the candidates are divided on whether planning should be a separate process from that of BRA approval. The voters will have to decide that one for themselves.

On the permitting and licensing process, all of the effective speakers agreed that it takes far too long to navigate the process and costs far too much to get so many city agencies to sign off a plan. Ross said it best : “We need less bureaucracy ! in this city it should take 30 days — no more — to get a business permitted. No business owner should have to call an elected official to get his business open !” Walsh added this : “27 permits to get an outdoor vending business licensed. That’s just not right !” Arroyo made much the same points, though more gently. You could hear the frustration in Ross’s and Walsh’s words; clearly they have heard horror stories galore from business people in Boston.

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^ Mike Ross : “restaurants are ambassadors for a neighborhood.”

The candidates were asked if they support Councillor Ayanna Pressley’s home rule petition to the State legislature to have all of Boston’s Licensing Board appointed by the mayor; under current law, the Governor appoints a member. All the “major” candidates said yes, but Ross’s answer stood out. It just might have been the best by any candidate to any question posed : “Must say to you that the legislature is very reluctant to give this power up. But restaurants are ambassadors for a neighborhood. If people are visiting a neighborhood in the city and can’t have their hosts take them to a local restaurant because there isn’t one, that hurts the neighborhood.” On which point Arroyo noted that Mattapan, for instance, has almost none of the 1000 liquor licences in Boston, ‘and,” said he, “that’s just plain wrong.”

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^ Arroyo : the people’s candidate. And why not ? it worked for Scott Brown.

Finally, the candidates were asked about funding for small neighborhood businesses. Here Walsh gave the most effective answer : “Small banks need to give back to the community they’re in. The Mayor can make a difference by picking where the City deposits its money.” Arroyo noted that he has legislation filed to require banks to disclose how much and where they lend out money into the neighborhood they serve. Connolly made his own characteristic, tech-savvy point : “We should be talking equity investment, not just lending, to be available to local businesses. Call it a ‘buy Boston’ program.”

So there you have it. Connolly sees the Mayor as the director of an Apple store and maybe the entire Apple business, too. Walsh’s Mayor would bend city agencies to the needs of the construction boom and the businesses it is empowering. Arroyo as Mayor will serve people where they live, informally as they live, and make these living informalities his priority. Dan Conley will work quickly to de-mystify the arcane ways of City Hall and City planning. And Mike Ross will do much the same as Arroyo, but with a broader vision that includes developers as well as informal people.

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^ “traditional” Marty Walsh : authority and command even at a new-Boston Forum

Ross was the evening’s good surprise. I did not expect him to give voice as eloquently as Arroyo to the frustrations that average people have with City Hall: but he did so. Arroyo spoke from the heart; Ross spoke from the heart and the head; his is the true voice of classic urban progressive reform in this campaign, a voice that recalls the great urban reform speakers of a hundred years ago. Unfortunately for Ross, there aren’t all that many 2013 voters who speak, or respond to, the voice of classic urban reform.

The evening also surprised in a bad way :

Rob Consalvo spoke much too quickly and lowered his eyes most of the time. He needs to look up and speak deliberately; say less words, more meaning.

John Barros disappointed. We had heard that he has the most eloquent vision of a city in progress; at this Forum he retreated from boldness to a kind of guy-next-door friendliness. That persona might elect a City Councillor; as a would be Mayor it failed.

Charlotte Golar-Richie continues to see herself as an administrator — more capable than the current, but an administrator most of all. That is not a message to win votes. Voters want an advocate, not a manager. The Mayor can hire managers.

—– Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : WHAT THE MONEY & VISIBILITY STORY TELLS US

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^ John R Connolly and Marty J. Walsh ; the top two by any measure

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A look at the OCPF (Office of Campaign finance) reports ending July 31, 2013 tells us that what we can assess on our own already is true: there are four tiers of candidacy among the twelve whose names will appear on the September 24, 2013 ballot.

At the bottom are Charles Clemons and David Wyatt, who have raised almost no money and spent hardly any.

The next tier, of candidates who have raised low six-figure money, or a bit less, includes names both expected and a surprise. It was always likely that Charles Yancey would fall far short. John Barros too. But who knew that Charlotte Golar-Richie, the only woman in the race, a former State Representative and a widely esteemed administrator, would barely make this tier’s cut ? Or that Felix Arroyo, whom many expected to see in the top tiers, would fall into this one ? Both Golar-Richie and Arroyo have raised less money than Bill Walczak, a community organizer and hospital administrator — highly regarded, and for many decades — but who has never run for any elected office.

The Walczak presence intrigues us. As the only candidate openly opposing locating a casino in Boston, has won to his side all those who  reject a development which would add many jobs and lots of tax revenue for the city. Whatever we may think of such opposition — and we decry it — it is the opinion of a vocal minority,and Walczak has it. His tactic is a common one for an underdog candidate to adopt. At this stage of the mayoral campaign, it makes sense for a candidate who at first glance looks overmatched to gain traction by bringing into camp at least one identifiable and committed constituency. This, Walczak has done.

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^ Bill Walczak the anti-casino candidate : raised 4 234,919.95. More than either Arroyo or Golar-Richie.

The downside of Walczak’s move is that almost everybody in the City wants to see a casino complex built here. Still, his move blocks rival candidates from poaching a following that probably totals six to eight percent of the Primary vote.

Next we have the tier of strong runner-ups. Here are three names, all important in the race ; Mike Ross, a District City Councillor, who has raised $ 625,579.88, much of it from real estate interests; District City Councillor Rob Consalvo, who reports $ 445,783.29; and District Attorney Dan Conley, who has amassed $ 698,307.64, reportedly mainly from lawyers.

The top tier belongs to just two names. Neither is a surprise. At-large City Councillor John R. Connolly has raised $ 834,242.96; State Representative Marty Walsh, $ 857,526.96. If money were the only fact in this race, the Final would contest these two, likely as close a vote as their money figures.

But money isn’t everything in politics. Visibility matters just as much. By “visibility” we mean not just what you can see but what you hear and feel: the grip of a hand on your wrist, as we like to say it. Visibility on the street used to be all; today, one has to add visibility on the internet. This changes the Boston Mayor outlook significantly. The “traditional” Boston voter has given Walsh, Connolly, Conley, and Consalvo their strong money and, so far, polling advantages. The other candidates with any chance of winning, however, must work on a different route. As they must look to young voters and to technology-driven Downtowners — who are almost impossible to reach with a door-to-door campaign — social media is their means. This is how life is lived today and not just in Boston. But can social media elect a Boston Mayor ?

On the street, the visibility victory goes to Consalvo, Walsh, Connolly, and Conley, in that order; and then to Arroyo. On social media, Arroyo does much better; and Ross, especially, has made himself a social site force. Presence on social media allow Arroyo and Ross to rank, at “omgreports.com,” fourth and fifth — higher than Rob Consalvo. Indeed, the site’s online voting function ranks Arroyo first. Still, even online, Walsh and Connolly place no lower than second and third; indeed “omgreports.com” ranks Walsh and Connolly the top two in overall presence, with Dan Conley third. And why not ? The “traditional” candidates have boldly put their issues agendas to voters both “traditional” and on-line — bolder by far than any of the “new Boston’ candidates has done. Connolly put his forth just yesterday, in seven languages, no less, on-line and on the street. The “traditional” candidates are not living in 1983. They all have significant, even commanding, presences in social media, on Facebook and Twitter. And so do their voters. It’s a new generation even in West Roxbury, Dorchester, and Southie.

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^ John Connolly : bold platform, presented in seven languages (including Viet-Namese, Albanian, and Caoe Verde Kriolu)

Money and visibility thus agree. The Final two will likely be John R. Connolly and Marty Walsh. It’s not impossible for Conley, Consalvo, or even Arroyo to edge ahead of either man, but it would definitely be news. Significant upward movement had better start to show really soon for the three candidates now trailing, but with a chance. Will there be such ? We await the August finance reports — and some well-researched polling results.

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^ Felix G. Arroyo : big street presence in many parts of the city. Is it enough ?

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : SIX WEEKS TO GO

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^ Rob Consalvo outside one of his local headquarters

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It’s getting nitty now, and gritty, the 12-candidate race to elect a new Boston Mayor. Candidates and their armies are knocking on doors, talking to voters one on one — which is the ONLY way to do it. The lawn signs wars are crowding fast. The money is in, and many key endorsements, ones that actually can deliver votes. Nor, fascinatingly, is anyone dropping out. It’s too late to do so, as the Primary ballots have already been printed. The rumors of Dan Conley moving away to run for Attorney General did not pan out. (This is good news for Rob Consalvo.)

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^ Dan Conley : staying in mayor race

Indeed, Conley, like Rob Consalvo, Marty Walsh, Felix Arroyo, and, probably, the other “major” candidates, have already begun to open local headquarters in the neighborhoods they are counting on; and to staff them. (Haven’t seen a John Connolly local HQ yet, but very likely soon.) With local headquarters open, the candidates who have them can ramp up their reach out to voters as yet uncontacted, or contacted but uncommitted. From local headquarters phone banks can be more precisely targeted than from a central office.

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^ Felix Arroyo : “forward with Felix” showing up at last in the neighborhoods that count

The ‘majors’ are also scheduling regular weekly ‘events,’ such as Marty Walsh’s “Mondays With Marty” and Felix Arroyo’s regular meet-and-greets at locations key to his campaign. Rob Consalvo is making his headquarters openings an “event.” Surely John Connolly and Dan Conley are doing the same. For these candidates, “events” are occasions to raise the enthusiasm level of their already committed voters — and campaign volunteers — and to bring to the committed-vote level voters who have shown interest. In other words, the fun and games times in this campaign are over. From here on it’s all about commit, commit, commit and identify a vote and keep it identified all the way to Primary day.

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^ Marty Walsh : “Mondays With Marty” in every neighborhood ?

So much for the “major’ candidates. What we do not understand, frankly, is the stance of the other candidates. Why are Charles Clemons, John Barros, and Bill Walczak still in this race ? And what of District Councillor Mike Ross, who has raised much money from real estate interests but doesn’t seem so far to have gathered an observable following ? Unfortunately, neither question has a ready answer. Clemons, Barros, Walczak, and even Ross surely knew that they were almost certain not to get to the November Final, yet they ran anyway. Is it about introducing oneself to voters ? Hard to see the advantage in making a first impression as an election loser. More likely they see that for the Final, the votes they do manage to win on Primary day will give them influence as the two finalists compete to win their support. Sometimes that campaign purpose succeeds.

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^ Mike Ross : lots of money, so far not many visible votes

The above discussion did not mention candidate Charlotte Golar-Richie. Her campaign remains the most puzzling of all. As the only woman in the race, as a person of color, and as a widely accomplished city and state administrator, she has all the credentials a next Mayor would want to possess and an identifiable, sizeable constituency. Yet her campaign hasn’t made itself felt much. She lacks money. She is only now beginning to be visible in the lawn sign wars. She has key endorsements, but they were won early and do not so far seem to have brought her many votes. Nor has she dominated the news. How could she, when, as reporter David S. Bernstein has pointed out, she has only the vaguest of messages and no platform ? The other “majors’ have both message and platform. It matters.

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : disappointing campaign so far

In a campaign like this one, which will reach almost every voter, most of them at the door, a candidate has to make himself or herself FELT as well as seen and heard. We used to say, “make them feel your grip, just as if you were grabbing them by the wrists.” Walsh, Consalvo, Connolly. Arroyo, and Conley are doing that; so far, Charlotte Golar-Richie hasn’t. Time for her to get tough. A Mayor of Boston HAS to be that.

Prediction : right now we see Rob Consalvo looking stronger, possibly moving to second place; Connolly weaker. Walsh still a good bet for second, even first place. Dan Conley fourth. None of the eight “new Boston” candidates has a chance if all stay in the race — and with the September ballots already printed, all remain in it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : DAN CONLEY FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL ?

 

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^ Dan Conley : more a law officer than a Mayor ?

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Question : has any Suffolk County District Attorney ever been elected Boston’s mayor ? This writer can’t think of one.

Perhaps this is why rumors abound that Dan Conley, the current “DA,” will leave the Mayor race to seek the office of Massachusetts Attorney General instead. Supposedly all that Conley is waiting for is current “AG” Martha Coakley announcing her candidacy for Governor – a decision that all observers expect.

If true, the move by Conley makes sense. He has amassed barrels of money – at last report his account had well over $ 1,000,000 on hand – and proposed a bold agenda, yet still lags in recent polls that show him running third to Marty Walsh and John Connolly. It is Connolly and Walsh who have won the past week’s major endorsements; Conley was passed by.

The murder of Amy Lord and the pending indictments of Aaron Hernandez have brought enormous publicity to Dan Conley. Yet none of it has helped his Mayoral hopes. If anything, the publicity has actually hurt Conley. Crime and prosecution are certainly big matters to voters; but they are not matters that people identify with being Mayor.

The issues that voters ascribe to their Mayor are these : zoning; schools;  development;  civil rights; and, most sweeping of all, quality of life – in the neighborhoods, with street cleaning and snow removal as well as road repair, and Downtown, moving it to a closing hour more progressive than the current 2 A.M. absurdity. Conley, as District Attorney, deals with hardly any of this.

Were Conley to leave the mayor race, who would benefit most of the 9 % of voters that current polls give him ? Nine percent of the likely Primary vote totals about 14,000 votes. Obviously the 14,000 will not go only to one Mayoral contender. That said, as we see it, the largest block of this 14,000 will go to the remaining “traditional” candidates. And not just any of them; the most significant benefits will surely go to Councillor-at-Large John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh, and not to District 5’s City Councillor, Rob Consalvo.

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^ Rob Consalvo : being squeezed out ?

Here’s why we see Conley’s support going chiefly to Connolly and Walsh:

Conley lives in Ward 20. So does John Connolly. Connolly is polling in first p[lace. As voters like to pick winners rather than give up a vote on someone who won’t likely win, Connolly is sure to pick up most of the “local guy” vote that Conley is now drawing. Consalvo, too, has strong support in Ward 20; but he has failed to win recent endorsements, indeed was passed on by St. Rep. Carlo Basile of East Boston. If Consalvo can’tr win  the support of an Italian-name legislator, who can he win that he does not already have ? He will pick up some Conley votes, yes; but not nearly enough.

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^ John Connolly : will benefit if Conley leaves Mayor race

But that’s not the whole story. Conley has paid much attention for months now to South Boston. He campaigned there on April lst, when that neighborhood (and Dorchester) chose a new State Senator. (Here and Sphere photographed him that day campaigning among voters at Gate of Heaven parish hall, where two South Boston precincts voted.) South Boston  is still home to large numbers of city and county employees; and Conley’s Irish name surely still draws many votes in the City’s archetypal Irish-name neighborhood (though that is changing, as we all know).

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^ Dan Conley campaigning at Gate of Heaven parish hall on April lst.

In Southie, the winner of most Conley votes would likely be Marty Walsh, not John Connolly. Walsh lives in Savin Hill, the Dorchester neighborhood closest to “Southie” culturally and proximately. Like Connolly, Walsh, looks a winner. He polls a close second to Connolly and has significant support from Labor Unions both public and private – groups strongly represented in the South Boston’s vote.

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^ Marty Walsh : major support from the City;’s Unions – strong in South Boston

For some time now, the September primary for this year’s Mayor race has looked like a Walsh and Connolly “final.” Dan Conley leaving it to run for Attorney General makes this Primary result almost a certainty. It WILL Be a certainty if the many “new Boston” candidates now dividing about 25 % of the likely Primary vote don’t stop chasing their own individual dreams, none of which can come true if all keep on chasing. The “new Boston” vote can command the Primary and win the “final.” But it can’t do anything if it continues on its current eight-candidate course.

Dan Conley’s momentous decision awaits.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : INTO THE FAR TURN NOW

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^ a John Connolly – Marty Walsh final ?

August will arrive this week, leaving only seven weeks until Primary day, at which the two Boston Mayoral Finalists will be chosen. At this point the preliminaries are over; the race is taking on a distinct shape; and those on the wrong side of the taking are beginning to get shelved. It’s the beginning of crunch time. Where does the race stand as the crunch starts ?

Polls have been taken and published. These show that John Connolly, Marty Walsh, Dan Conley, and Rob Consalvo occupy a “top tier” — grabbing from 8 % to 12 % of the assured primary vote — and that Felix Arroyo, Charlotte Golar Richie, and Mike Ross make a “second tier,” each at 5 % of the assumed vote. Four other candidates, Charles Yancey, John Barros, Bill Walczak, and Charles Clemons, also draw a measurable vote.

No surprises in any of this — nor is it a surprise that the “new Boston” candidates are splitting among themselves a vote that, if unified, would assure such candidate making it to the Final.

Arroyo, Ross, and Golar-Richie, their support totaled, easily top the “traditional” field. Indeed, their potential vote should be larger than polled: because the polls taken have tended to concentrate on the most assured voters — namely, the “traditional” voters. Surely, if one or other of the “new Boston” candidates is seen as having a solid chance of winning, “new Boston” voters will turn out in larger than polled numbers. Being seen as a solid potential winner is the major indicator, in almost every election, of a candidate’s ability to turn out voters.

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^ Felix G. Arroyo : solid contender if the “new Boston’ vote unifies

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^ Charlotte Golar-Richie : a sure winner in November If she can get to the Final

Unhappily for “new Boston,” this Primary  offers no fewer than six viable “new city” candidates. None has made a move to drop out. The six probably draw about 20 % of the polled sample, and on Primary day might garner measurably more. It will do no good, however, if all six continue in the race. All six will lose. This is a disappointing prospect and one that we at Here and Sphere decry. We feel that it is time for Boston to elect a “new Boston” Mayor, “new” voters representing at least two-thirds — probably more — of the entire city vote.

If no “new Boston” candidate withdraws soon, before the ballot is printed, the chances are strong that the Final will choose between two “traditionalists.” Currently the top two candidates in polls are City Councillor at Large John Connolly, at 12 %, and state Representative Marty Walsh, at 11 %. We feel that’s an accurate picture. Walsh, a four term Representative, has a solid Dorchester base extending strongly now into South Boston and, somewhat less strongly, into Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Roslindale. He has won the backing of Local 18, the Boston firefighters’ Union. As for John Connolly, son of former Secretary of State Michael J. Connolly, he lives in Ward 20 — which will likely cast ten to 12 % of the entire Primary vote — and has shown broad city-wide support besides. Connolly is waging an active house party and issues campaign, focusing on Boston Schools parents. He can also count on much trust from city workers and their families gained during his terms on the Council.

Dan Conley, the Suffolk County District attorney, has by far the most money, but his city wide support seems surface at most; huge publicity for him, thanks to the many murder investigations under way, does not seem to have added anything to his image as a possible Mayor. Crime, after all, is a huge issue, but not a big Mayoral issue. Schools, development, zoning, and culture seem the issues most germane to the mayor’s office. (NOTE : a report in today’s Herald opines that Conley might switch to run for Massachusetts Attorney Geerral if Martha Coakley, as expected, declares for Governor, Conley has not responded yet.)

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^ superb campaign but not enough ? Rob Consalvo

Then there’s Rob Consalvo, who holds the district Council seat that Mayor Menino held from which he won election as Mayor. Consalvo has the problem of bringing together a widely dispersed — and much less ethnic than it used to be — “Italian” vote, from East Boston, the North End, and Hyde Park, and of lacking much city-wide familiarity. That he has nonetheless managed to poll close to the top vote-getters is a credit to the detail and mastery of his very professionally directed campaign. Can Consalvo, thus well directed, perhaps make it into the final ? Probably not.

Which leaves Boston to choose between two men as different as similarly backgrounded people can be. it will, actually, somewhat resemble the 1983 race between David Finnegan and Ray Flynn to choose who would face “new Boston” candidate Mel King. Finnegan lived in West Roxbury, Flynn in South Boston, and as one shrewd observer said, it was a race between “discount store cashiers” and “Boston Latin School.” The same class gulf may well apply to a Walsh versus Connolly Final. The Flynn and Finnegan fight was heated and often bitter — the two men seemed to despise one another. Expect nothing less if a Walsh versus Connolly Final imposes itself on a City that can use some drama not arising, thank goodness, from murder indictments and trials.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : THE 2ND MONTH STARTS

Boston Mayor 2013 – candidates of color

Whether 15 candidates qualify for the Primary ballot or some number less, it looks as though there’ll be far too many aspirants presenting themselves to Boston voters for anyone but political junkies to even know all the names, much less what they’re about.

Meanwhile, the primary vote, which will eliminate all but two candidates, takes place less than four months from now. This puts a premium on long connection; and long connection favors the most stable city communites. Hello, East Boston, much of Charlestown, Southie, South Dorchester; upper Roxbury, Readville, Fairmount Hill,Moss Hill,  White City, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Brighton; see ya, Allston, Fenway, Back bay, downtown, the South End, Mission Hill, north Dorchester (Blue Hill Avenue), Mattapan, and much of Jamaica Plain.

To put it on political junkie terms, Hello wards 1, half of Ward 2, 6,7, 12, 16, 18, 19, 22, and 20; see ya, most of Wards 3 and 5 and almost all of Wards 4, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, and 21.

Given the huge field, those candidates who can add any significant bloc to his or her long connected base has a huge leg up in this situation. It can be a geographic bloc, an interest group — labor union, especially — or an “issues constituency.” So far, Dan Conley — presently Suffolk County District attorney — leads the issues campaign with two strong agenda points: gun control ordinances and a citywide casino vote. Meanwhile State Rep Martin J. Walsh and Councillors John R Connolly, Rob Consalvo, and Felix G Arroyo seem to be harvesting voters blocs outside their respective “base.” Arroyo has strong union support; Martin Walsh, the backing of progressive Jamaica Plain state Rep. Liz Malia; John Connolly, dots of strength all over the city. Rob Consalvo, an opening to East Boston, partly resulting from Dan Conley’s rejection of an East Boston-only casino vote.

As for Charlotte Golar Richie, currently an official in Governor Patrick’s administration, she has garnered significant bloc support outside her own base and also demonstrated an effective street-level campaign by collecting some 8,100 nomination signatures.

None of the above successes by these contenders should surprise. Conley, Consalvo, Connolly, Arroyo, Walsh, and Richie are the obvious leaders of the pack. Campaigns often reveal the “obvious leaders” to not be as leading as the common wisdom expected; in this election, the common wisdom so far has it right.

What of the other names that will surely be on the ballot ? Who is going to be voting for Bill Walczak, John F. Barros, John G. Laing, David G. Portnoy, Charles L. Clemons — and City Councillor Charles Yancey, if he runs ? And how about City Councillor Mike Ross, who by all measures looks less vote-getting than the six “majors” ? It’s hard to say what they will do, but one factor we know : all come from the 70% of the ciy that is “new Boston.” None of these other candidates, except possibly Bill Walczak, who is well known in the stretch of Dorchester between the Polish-American Club on Boston street and Codman Square — is likely to draw even a soupcon number of votes from the “traditional” candidates Walsh, Connolly, Conley, and Consalvo. To the extent that these “extra six” (or seven) candidates hurt anyone, it will be Arroyo and Richie.

Turnout will be a factor. With so many mayor hopefuls joined by a large crowd of candidates or city council, it would surprise few if 40% to 50% of Boston voters — say 125,000 to 160,000 — show up at the polls in September.

Supporters — including this writer — of “new Boston” finally having its turn to elect a mayor may not like this prospect. Not to worry: in recent years, turnout among people of color has risen sharply, in some cases surpassing the turnout percentage of “traditional” voters. There seems scant reason for a “new Boston’ candidate to feel bearish about who will vote in September. The major hurdle will be to convince “new Boston” voters that a “new Boston’ candidate can actually win . Candidates perceived as winnable generate much larger voter participation than candidates sen as losing.

So, can a “new Boston” hopeful win ? Yes, most definitely so.  Clearly Arroyo or Golar Richie have all that it takes to win the entire prize.

The only way that neither Arroyo and Richie get into the “final,’ as this writer sees it, is if they divide the “new’ vote fairly evenly while one or more of the “traditionals” generate a large voter turn out from their bases.

This outcome could happen. For example, there’s no candidate from South Boston. No region of the city turns out voters as numerously as Wards 6 and 7. Trust me: 8,000 votes in the “primary” from South Boston would surprise no one. If a “traditional” can dominate these 8,000 votes — nobody expects a “new Boston” candidate to do that — added to his base, he will surely win the “primary” and gather strong further support for the “final.”

It is THAT prospect that Walsh, Connolly, and Conley, especially, as Irish-name candidates, are now fighting for. It is why on April 30th, when Southie participated in electing a new State Senator for the First Suffolk District, Dan Conley spent the day greeting voters at Southie polling places. South Boston will get plenty of candidate attention during this next month.

But so will Mission Hill, the South End, Back Bay, and the new Downtown, Navy yard, and Seaport.  A gold mine number of voters — at least 40,000 total, in wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9 — resides here, many of them high income, highly educated — exactly the sort of motivated and progressive voters that any “new Boston’ candidate shares political DNA with. All that’;s needed is for “hew Boston” candidates and “new Boston” voters to find each other.

That is what the month of June will surely be about in the heart of our City.

After that, the campaign changes. It spreads out, putting a premium on large organizational effort. Many Boston people go to Cape Cod for the summer or on every summer weekend. Candidates will almost certainly be seen meeting and greeting at Falmouth happy hours, Hyannis lawn parties, and Dennis clam shacks. Sign holders will line the Sagamore and Bourne bridges and the sides of routes 28 and 6. Meanwhile, other volunteers will be canvassing stay-at-homes in the more voter- accessible neighborhoods, shaking hands at senior citizen centers, greeting revelers at outdoor festivals, and phone-banking the less accessible. Campaigns’ social media overseers will be working overtime. Here too, chance favors the “major” candidates. “Their” voters are used to seeing mayors and mayor hopefuls all the time and know who is who and who isn’t.

Enormously so. But that’s for July and August. Meanwhile there’s June, a month of campaigning everywhere inside the Boston city limits during which a last pre-primary effort will be made to reach out and touch voters not yet committed to, or even focused on, any candidate. Expect agenda announcements galore and the beginning of what will eventually be an avalanche of “key’ endorsements.

———- Michael Freedberg, “Here and Sphere”