BOSTON POLS : CAUCUS — WARD 20 ; AMBITION — 5TH SUFFOLK

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^basic democracy : Democratic state chairman Tom McGee of Lynn instructs West Roxbury’s ward 20 caucus

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There may be secret money in the Big Picture, but at the small level where actual people live, vote, and run for office, the money doesn’t taint. Whether it’s caucusing in West Roxbury or manoeuvering a run for State Representative in Dorchester, you find politics basic, the real deal, activism for its own sake. So it was, this morning at Boston Ward 20’s Democratic Party caucus, attended by almost 200 people. So it has been the past two days, since the House expelled Carlos Henriquez, leaving the 5th Suffolk State Representative seat vacant awaiting seekers.

But first, the caucus. I chose Ward 20’s because it is Boston’s biggest voting ward; many were sure to attend to elect 29 delegates to the Democratic convention. The caucus met in the community room at West Roxbury’s Police Station. Attendees and candidate volunteers filled every nook — the hallway too. The State Party chairman was there, Tom McGee of Lynn; so were two competing slates of delegates, a Don Berwick group led by Helen Bello — who hosted the huge Berwick house party that I wrote about recently — and a Juliette Kayyem list led by an old friend, Paul Nevins, an employment lawyer. A group of independent names was nominated too, well known people sure to draw votes on name alone; and attendees voted as much for names they knew as for any slate; there wasn’t at all the structure that I had expected of this meeting. It seemed as much a meet and greet as an election.

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^ Ward 20 state Representative Ed Coppinger discusses matters with Here and Sphere follower Michelle Von Vogler

There was voting, but mostly there was conversation as faces familiar or new worked the room. State Senator Mike Rush was there, as was West Roxbury State Representative Ed Coppinger. Governor candidate Martha Coakley worked the room for about 20 minutes, then left. District Attorney Dan Conley shook hands. So did Congressman Steve Lynch. Old friends Carole White (Kevin White’s sister in law) and Marilyn LaRosa were elected; I noticed Helen Greaney in the room and Greg Haugh also — two other Haugh’s sought election as delegates — and Ann Murphy, still glamorous as ever, now working as an aide to Mike Rush. A couple of Boston Teachers Union activists signed in — but I did not see Ward 20’s biggest BTU name, Ed Doherty — and people from both the Connolly and Walsh mayor campaigns.

Circulating as well were four who ran last year for City Council : local resident Marty Keogh, Jack Kelly, and winners Steve Murphy and Michelle Wu. It was a “good hit,” as pols say of an event well worth being seen at.

UPDATE ON DELEGATES ELECTED : Thanks to Rob for posting to me the entire list, mostly of the usual Ward 20 activists (including two Haugh’s and a BTU active, City Council candidate Marty Keogh, a Marty Walsh cabinet member — Alejandra St. Guillen — and at least one State Employee) and two Don Berwick delegates. Take a look :

Female Delegates:
Alyssa Ordway – 75 votes
Carole White – 74
Ann Cushing – 71
Cathy Fumara – 68
Helen Haugh – 68
Diana Orthman – 68
Marilyn LaRosa – 65
Patricia Malone – 65
Anita Salmu – 65
Margaret Sullivan – 63
Josiane Martinez – 60
Alejandra St. Guillen – 59
Sue Anderson – 58
Heather Bello – 26
Hema Kailasam – 21
Jennifer McGoldrick (Alternate)
Pamela Keogh (Alternate)

Male Delegates:
Robert Orthman – 69 votes
David Isberg – 66
Steve Smith – 66
Marty Keogh – 65
Bill Smith – 64
Kevin Walsh – 64
Bill MacGregor – 63
George Donahue – 62
Joe Haugh – 60
John Fumara – 59
Leo Connell – 58
Tom Hanktankis – 58
Patrick Murray – 58
Larry Connolly – 56
Bob Tumposky – 56

(UPDATED 02/09/14 at 10.45 AM)

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And now to the 5th Suffolk District, in Dorchester, where the expulsion of Carlos Henriquez has left a gaping hole…

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will he be the first Uphams Corner state Rep since Jim Hart 40 years ago ? John Barros may become a candidate in the 5th Suffolk special election… But so might the woman pictured below, Karen Charles of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood :

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The 5th Suffolk State Representative seat in the Massachusetts House won’t be vacant for long. Already the hungry are circling, impatient, guessing and out-guessing. The big news is that John Barros, who ran for mayor last year and impressed many, is seriously considering a run. Barros lives in the heart of the District, owns a successful restaurant in it,. and would be an elite voice for 40,000 people very much in need of one. Barros is not, however, the only notable who is thinking publicly about running. There’s also Karen Charles, who works at WGBH (full disclosure : WGBH’s Peter Kadzis was my editor at the Boston Phoenix and remains a friend professionally and personally), and who, with her husband Kevin Peterson, an NAACP activist, make a formidable team of articulate reformers and who are said to be close to Charlotte Golar-Richie, who once represented the 5th Suffolk, still lives in it, and who was, like Barros, a candidate in last year’s Mayor campaign.

In that Mayor campaign, Barros won 2,072 votes in the 5th District’s 20 precincts; Golar-Richie won 1,465. Barros thus starts with a 600 vote advantage. That isn’t the entire story, though, Felix Arroyo won 570 votes in the District; and Carlos Henriquez, of Hispanic origin like Arroyo, is said to intend running again to reclaim his seat. Even if he does not run, the 570 Arroyo votes seem up for grabs, not to mention the 313 won by Charles Yancey and the 495 won by John Connolly. (Marty Walsh’s 640 votes might split between Barros and a Golar-Richie-backed candidate, as both she and Barros helped Walsh win the Final).

That said, Barros certainly would enter the race as the favorite no matter who else decides to run — including Henriquez himself. The two men are said to be close friends as well as political allies, and some speculate that if Henriquez runs — and he probably will — Barros will not. We shall see. Whatever the case may happen, this is a District that badly needs an A-list voice. It has always had a working-class majority even in the days, not too long ago, when much of it was Roxbury Red Raider country. The “5th” includes the entire Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, one of Boston’s most impacted by gang violence; a stretch of Blue Hill Avenue that Red Raiders knew as “Cherry Valley,” once almost entirely blighted but, of late, enjoying the beginnings of a resurgence (as anyone familiar with local hot-spot Merengue Restaurant knows); Upham’s Corner and half of Jones Hill (where I had my first adult job, working as go-fer to state Rep. Jim Hart); and, of Roxbury, the north side of Dudley Side from Hibernian Hall eastward, all the way past the Governor Shirley mansion to and including “the Prairie” ball field (where Red Raider teams played Park League baseball and football). None of the district is high-income; not much of it is middle-income. Everyone benefits from having an eloquent and respected voice in the legislature, but the people of the 5th Suffolk would benefit more than most.

There will be a special election to fill the vacancy. It will be called soon — the date of it as yet unknown but probably early May. It will be a short campaign, a local effort, politics at its most basic and not much different from that Ward 20 caucus that I attended this morning. More voters to reach, yes, but not much more structure. It also looks now to be the most attention-getting time that the 40,000 people of the “5th” have gained in many, many years if ever. Let the democracy of it begin.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON ELECTION : CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS

Yesterday I posted our endorsements for Boston’s four at-Large Council seats. There was some push-back. Folks evidently do not grasp our method or else disagree that we should use it. The disagreement I can handle : these are our endorsements, so be it. as for comprehending, I will lay out my criteria once more :

1. We insist that a Councillor be independent of the Mayor, even in opposition to him. The Council has little enough power as it is. What good is a Councillor almost powerless if he or she does not stand free of the Mayor and criticize his agenda when it deserves criticism ?
2. We also want an at-large Councillor to demonstrate as much city-wide support as he or she can manage.
3. A Councillor should OF COURSE demonstrate knowledge of the main issues and be able to address them in speeches and on paper.
The above are all the criteria I have used in giving our endorsements. Simple.
On these criteria, there are three candidates who merit Here and Sphere’s unqualified endorsement. I also list their “score” on the two criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest :

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1. Jack Kelly.  Independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 3 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 15

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2. Mike Flaherty : Independence of Connolly : 3 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 Ability to address issues : 5
Total score : 17

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3. Ayanna Pressley : Independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 4.5
Total score : 15.5

Four of the five other candidates merit our endorsement, but a qualified one due to their perceived closeness to one or the other Mayor candidates or a lesser city-wide support than we see in the above three :

4. Marty Keogh : independence of Connolly : 4 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3 ability to address issues : 4
Total score : 12
5. Michelle Wu : Independence of Connolly : 2 independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 5 ability to address issues : 3
Total score : 14
6. Annissa Essaibi George : independence of Connolly : 5 Independence of Walsh : 1 City-wide support : 3.5 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score : 13
7. Jeff Ross : independence of Connolly : 2 Independence of Walsh : 4 City-wide support : 4 ability to address issues : 3.5
Total score 13.5

You will notice that we make no mention of Stephen Murphy. This is not to disparage Stephen, who has been a personal friend of this writer for many, many years. My reasons for leaving Stephen off the list are two : ( 1 ) I think that his best work — connecting “new Boston” constituencies to “traditional” Boston — is accomplished ; and ( 2 ) Steve was hardly a profile in boldness once the arbitrator’s BPPA award was brought back to the City Council for approval or disapproval. Steve : ya gotta lead, buddy !

OK, so there you have it : our Council endorsements. Now go ye and vote as ye think best.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON ELECTION : CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE FINAL — A FIRST LOOK

Boston’s City Council has little power via the present City charter. Such little as it has is most effectively directed to questioning the Mayor’s agenda. Even though the Council almost always gets onto the Mayor’s side on such, merely by questioning it awakens the City’s voters to agenda items that might not win most voters’ favor. And they are less easily brought aboard the Mayor’s agenda than are the Council members.

Every Mayoral agenda contains items that voters might justly question. That’s why we, at Here and Sphere, in making our endorsement and suggestions for the Council, rank a candidate’s potential independence first of all. We want the Council to answer to constituencies that the Mayor’s agenda does not favor. We see the Mayor’s proposals and the Council response as a kind of labor negotiation, one in which a common middle ground is reached. For that reason, we especially insist that the at-Large (city-wide) elected Councillors demonstrate this independence.

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^ Jack Kelly : independence almost assured — we endorse ! (photo  by Kelly campaign)

Which is why we balance our endorsement of John Connolly for Mayor with an endorsement of jack Kelly as a city-wide Councillor. He will be as comprehensive a “voice for labor’ as anyone of the eight candidates on the ballot. None, to our knowledge, has received as many Union endorsements as has he. Moreover, Kelly is not only a “voice for labor.” He has Planned Parenthood’s endorsement, that of District Four Councillor Tito Jackson, and the support of at least two Boston Globe columnists so far.  And just today, he gained endorsement by Ramon Soto, who was an at-large Council candidate himself.

Kelly addresses issues only after careful study — no Council candidate is more thoughtful. His enjoyment of people is infectious; everybody sees it. If anyone in this year’s election has the inner stuff to enthuse almost everyone, it is Jack Kelly.

The other seven candidates include four of the seven who we “suggested” in the Primary. The three who missed the cut — Chris Conroy, Catherine O’Neill, and Phil Frattaroli  — will, we hope, be heard from again. The four “suggested’s” who did make it — incumbent Ayanna Pressley and newcomers Annissa Essaibi George, Marty Keogh, and Jeff Ross, all of whom we like a lot — now find themselves in competition with three whom we did not suggest. These are serious contenders : incumbent Stephen J. Murphy; former Councillor Mike Flaherty; and one newcomer, Michelle Wu.

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^ Annissa Essaibi George : very Dorchester and as “Dot” is Boston’s largest neighborhood, that’s reason enough to like. we do.

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^ Jeff Ross : hard work and a proven, long time commitment to Bostonians needing a voice

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^ Marty Keogh : the voice of Wards 18 and 20 — is it enough ? we hope it is.

We continue to like our four “survivors.” We understand that at least one, even of them, will not be elected in November. Yet we cannot simply dismiss Flaherty, Murphy, and Wu any longer. So how, at first look, do we judge their candidacy ?

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^ strong in every neighborhood of Boston : Mike Flaherty

1.Mike Flaherty has put together a citywide vote as uniformly strong as any Council candidate. And city-wide strength is something we want to see in a city-wide candidate. It’s almost as important as independence.

After failing to win election in 2011 — having lost badly in 2009 when he challenged mayor Menino — Flaherty has won back all the voter confidence that had appeared no longer his. We would be very surprised if Flaherty does not win back his Council seat, and we will be doing a Profile of him next week. In which we will take the temperature of his independence of mind.

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^ Stephen Murphy : what has he yet to do that he has not already done ?

2.Stephen J. Murphy has been a personal friend of this writer for almost our entire adult lives. Indepenence from Mayor Menino is built into his soul. Murphy’s mild, gentlemanly manner belies a passionate commitment to traditional Boston ways and agendas — into which he has, much more smoothly than I thought likely, blended all kinds of “new Boston’ constituencies. Murphy seems to say, “you may be think you’re one of those ‘new Bostonians,’ but you’ll fit right into traditional Boston, I will take you there, and you will like it.” No one else on the Council could have done this important mission as successfully.

My only question of Murphy’s continuing on the Council is whether or not his work hasn’t been fully accomplished. What has he still left to do that others can’t do ? I will be asking him this question in a coming profile.

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^ Michelle Wu : impressive bio

3.Michelle Wu. She was said to be all over the city; we have all seen her worn-out-shoes news story. Yet I, despite being all over the City at street level myself, since the beginning of August, only met Wu for the first time at the Roslindale parade. Where did she wear out those shoes ?

The Wu candidacy puzzles me. She took fourth spot in the Primary by a huge margin : how did she become so well known ? so well thought of ? Better known than marty Keogh ? Better thought vof than teacher and neighborhood activist Annissa Essaibi George ? More worthy a progressive than Jeff Ross ? Her personal story is impressive : harvard Law School graduate and care provider for her widowed mother. Her political story seems even more to the point : she was a campaign staffer for Senator Elizabeth Warren, the most popular politician in Massachusetts.

Yet others in this year’s Council campaign worked for Warren as well. All, even Jeff Ross, who grew up on the West Coast, have longer and deeper attachment to Boston than Wu, who only recently moved to the City. Why the Council ? To me, at first look, Wu seems better fitted to head a city administrative department than to be a elected voice. If the theme is “new Boston,” Ross, to our mind, fits the bill much more profoundly than Wu. Surely her biography and Warren connection impressed many voters who don’t accord their Council votes a policy importance. To me, using a Councillor vote to congratulate an impressive personal achievement is to disrespect the Council. A Councillor should be more than a graduation day photograph.

That said, we will be talking to Michelle Wu next week and asking her what there is about her candidacy other than a very impressive bio.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON ELECTION : FOR AT-LARGE CITY COUNCIL

Boston voters go to the polls on Tuesday — in less than 48 hours — to choose the candidates who will face off in the November 5th “Final.”

Mayor is of course Boston’s first priority; but a City Council final eight will also be selected. Below are our choices. Please read about them all. We like all eight.

photo (69) Jack Kelly : our first choice, as the most across-the-board voice of labor we’ve seen in decades, at a time when a trusted voice of labor is most needed on the Council. Kelly’s campaign has captured the imagination and support of the entire City — even the Boston Globe –and he has the endorsements (including from Councillor Tito jackson and planned parenthood) to prove it. He also has ours.

photo (55)Chris Conroy : his campaign lacks money and moves sometimes on foot, but Conroy has much more city-wide support than that suggests. He grew up in ward 16 (Fields Corner) and lives now in ward 11 (Roxbury) and speaks in eloquent and passionate detail about bettering the City’s schools — not bit by bit, but hugely. Some might say, “a white guy in Roxbury ? and think “1969 hippie,” but that’s for throwbacks. Conroy is the Roxbury of today : diverse, and progressive for real, not just for hippie dreams.

Annissa Essaibi

Annissa Essaibi-George : a Boston Teacher’s Union (BTU) activist, Essaibi-George has the radiance, class, and articulation for which Boston Public school teachers are justly respected. We met her and liked her instantly, and mot just because she’s from Dorchester, with strong support in East Boston as well (where she teaches at East Boston High School). She runs a small business, and has time, somehow, to also be a neighborhood activist. We think no one will outwork her on the Council, and defintely her voice for the BTU is needed, even if the BTU itself sometimes misses the political bulls-eye.

photo (65) Philip Frattaroli : resident in the North End, he owns a restaurant, Ducali, on Causeway Street and grew up in his Dad’s restaurant business. As Mayor candidate John Barros says, “ten percent of all workers in Boston work in the restaurant business.” Reason enough to want Frattaroli on the Council; add to that his growing city-wide support, as he captures the imagination of small business people everywhere in Boston frustrated  by the red tape encasing the City’s bizarro permitting process.

photo (43) Marty Keogh : we’ve known Marty for a long time — and that’s him : this season’s most energetic voice of “traditional” Boston. From that side of Boston– as it stands  today — he has gathered the kind of committed support that elected Councillors galore thirty and forty years ago. Keogh has significant labor union support and is beginning to make some inroads into parts of “new Boston.” We can’t wait to see him debate cultural issuers with Jeff Ross (see below), progressive agenda with Chis Conroy, and school assignments policy with just about everybody.

photo (61) Catherine O’Neill : if Senator Elizabeth Warren does nothing else for Boston, her selection of O’Neill to work the campaign’s media presence deserves our thanks. O’Neill, we discovered soon enough, isn’t just a Warren protege. She comes from the large and we,ll-known O’Neills of Lower Mills, field-directed Linda Dorcena-Forry’s historic State Senate win,  is a published playwright, and hosts a Boston television show (at BBN TV). And it shows. She simply loves people and political discussion — city-wide ? no problem at all — and people take to her as well. We look forward to seeing her speak from the perspectives of both “traditional” Lower Mills and “new Boston” media on all the issues — senior citizens too.

photo (39) Ayanna Pressley : she’s an incumbent, and we hope that she continues to be one. The Chicago native is articulate, genial, classy — and has hold of an issue vital to Boston’s quality of neighborhood life : her Home Rule petition to the legislature to grant Boston control over the number and location of our liquor licenses. ask restaurant businesses if that matters ? Hint : it does.

photo (24) Jeff Ross : a South End resident — in Ward 9 Precinct 2, for political junkies like Ross — this politically experienced, veteran campaigner now steps forward to run for office himself, bringing to the battle long and progressive knowledge of what must be done to make Boston a more diverse, more fun, and more effective city for all. You have to respect — and want to see elected — a guy who grew up in a working-class, home, was the first in his family to graduate college, is a voice for the city’s LGBT community, and has the neighborhood touch too.

Conclusion : by no means do we wish to denigrate the eleven at-large candidates who did not make either our endorsed or suggested list. Indeed, the eleven include two long time personal friends and several promising newcomers. But one must choose; that’s what elections are about. If the eight people we have singled out above all “make the cut,’ Boston will enter a new political era, one less dominated by the old ways and more inclined to articulate diversity. that’s what cities should be.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE : Jack Kelly Makes Name for Himself, One Barbecue at a Time

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^ Having Their Cake and eating It Too ; Allston-Brighton liaison Angela Holm enjoying cake with City Council at-large candidate Jack Kelly — outside a barbecue in North Allston this past Sunday.

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Because the highly contested Boston Mayoral Race commands most attention, the race for Boston City Council has, for the most part, been pushed to the side stage.

Jack Kelly hopes to change that.

He graduated  from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with a degree in Political Science. Most recently, he’s been working as a Community Liaison for Massachusetts General Hospital, helping to bring awareness to the plight of Substance Abuse and HIV in various high-risk sections of the City.

In our profile of Kelly, we noted his interesting bio. As his campaign has gained serious momentum, we decided to follow up. How is he gathering the strength that has become so evident in his run ?

Thus Here and Sphere caught up with Kelly at a neighborhood barbecue in Allston. We asked him especially about the response he has received so far, from Boston voters.

HnS: How is the Campaign going so far?

Kelly: The Campaign is going very, very well. We just picked up another endorsement today from State Rep. Carlo Basile (D-East Boston) amongst many. We’re here in Allston today. It’s not only diverse economically, but culturally as well as with history.

HnS: What has been the most important thing that you have learned so far on the campaign?

Kelly: Lots of things. I go to a lot of barbeques, and I want to eat, but I don’t (laughs). In fact, I think that I’ve lost about fifteen pounds, walking around, going from barbecue-to-barbecue.

HnS: Well, you do look great.

Kelly: Thanks (Laughs). I think that the issues for most Bostonians are universal. I think that sometimes people here see these issues differently because they are segregated in a sense. But if you do go into those neighborhoods, the issues are very, very similar.

HnS: Say you’re elected to the City Council, and regardless of who is elected Mayor, in four years from now, where do you see Boston?

Kelly: I think that there are several good Mayoral candidates, and whoever is elected Mayor, if I am elected to the City Council, my hope is that I can help steer the City in the right direction. I want to continue the good work that Mayor Menino has done. Boston is going to be very good. Not just because of its leadership, but because of its people.

HnS: What has been the most pressing issue in this campaign that you have heard from voters?

Kelly: I think it’s a combination of schools, public safety, and sometimes they sort of migrate into one big conglomerated issue. A lot of people are also concerned about public parking and development. It also depends on what neighborhood you’re in, as far as issues are concerned. If you wanted to pick one issue that is universally applied to all people, it would be the schools.”

The campaign continues. We expect to see Kelly often in the four weeks that remain till Primary day.

— Dave Morrison / Here and Sphere

BOSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE : JACK KELLY OF CHARLESTOWN

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^ At-large Council hopeful Jack Kelly at a recent “friend raiser” in Dorchester

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Note : Here and Sphere will make an effort to interview as many City Council candidates as we can reach. This effort must, unfortunately, come second to our coverage of the Mayor race — coverage which starting on Monday will continue every day right through to the September 24th Primary. We will, however, do what we can with the time that we have. First up is Jack F. Kelly III, who was born and grew up in Charlestown, the son of two working patents : a Verizon worker Dad and a Mom who has worked for Boston Public Schools for over two decades.

We first met Kelly at a block party in West Roxbury early last month. About two weeks ago we attended a “Mondays for Marty Walsh” town hall in Charlestown, where we heard first hand the concerns that that neighborhood has with the City’s powers that be. Given the smallness of Charlestown — but its long significance in Boston’s political life too — it was our decision right then that Jack Kelly would be our first City Council interview.

We talked to Kelly at a fund[-raiser event in the Savin hill section of Dorchester — an event he prefers to call a “friend raiser.” What follows was the substance of our talk :

Here and Sphere (HnS) : “What’s your campaign’s chief issue ?”

Kelly : “public health; fighting drug addiction, HIV and hepatitis C. It’s what I do currently, working for Mass General (Hospital). We have to increase the presence of community health workers.”

HnS : “so you agree with what Marty Walsh said that night in Charlestown, that there’s an heroin epidemic in Boston ? He didn’t overstate ?”

Kelly : “Absolutely. No, he did not overstate things. Drugs are everywhere and I see it in my work and know of it in the ‘Town. (Keep in mind that) fighting the drug plague is fundamental to (public) safety.”

Note : Kelly knows the drug menace personally. as his campaign bio puts it, “After graduating from high school, my life took an unexpected turn. Like many kids in my generation throughout Boston, I became addicted to…Oxycontin. for several years I struggled with …addiction… (until) on October 12, 2003…with the help of my community, prayers, and addiction programs, I became sober and began my life again.”

HnS : “fighting drug addiction and diseases like HIV and hepatitis is hardly the usual City Councillor undertaking.”

Kelly : “That’s why i can be heard. It has to be addressed.”

HnS : “Turning to other issues, the various casino proposals are an issue in Charlestown. What is your position ?”

Kelly : “it’s an issue everywhere in the city. I favor an East Boston vote only, not city-wide.. Traffic’s an issue; we will deal with it. The one casino I do NOT want in any circumstance is the Everett proposal. The traffic impact would be intolerable. Any casino has to be in Boston, but you know what ? Why not have it on one of the Harbor islands ? Doesn’t that make the most sense ?”

HnS : “School improvement has been john Connolly’s big issue, one that has given him citywide strength. And that means charter schools. What’s your position on legislation to lift the ‘cap’ on how many charter schools we can have ?”

Kelly : “Definitely school improvement. I favor increasing the number of charter schools but not eliminating the cap entirely.’

HnS : “Partial ‘cap’ lift ?”

Kelly : “Yes.”

HnS : “one thing that John Connolly specifically cites in his school improvement agenda is that the school day should be longer. Your view  is ?”

Kelly : “i agree; but teachers must be compensated for a longer day.”

HnS : “The Boston Globe two days ago focused on the various mayor candidates’ positions on the BRA. Changing the BRA seems on everybody’s mind. What do you think should happen ?”

Kelly : “i want more transparency and for the city council to have a vote on who the new director will be. And by more transparency : all meetings with developers should be videotaped and shown online to be posted on (the websites of) affected neighborhood(s) and their civic association(s).”

HnS : “But you don’t advocate replacing the BRA ?”

Kelly : “correct.”

HnS : “Lastly, a numbers question. You come from Charlestown, one of the City’;s smallest neighborhoods. How can you win citywide ?”

Kelly : “It’s not just Charlestown. It’s the entire City Council District that I’m from, that includes East Boston and the North end. We haven’t had anybody elected city-wide since John Nucci;. It’s about time.”

HnS : “How can you do it ?”

Kelly : “I’m strong in South Boston, Dorchester, West Roxbury. I have friends all over the city, from labor. I was an ironworker after I became sober, a Local 7 member. I also know people everywhere in Boston from being Charlestown Neighborhood co-ordinaor for Mayor Menino. Look at my union endorsements !”

NOTE: Kelly has major union support. His campaign website notes the following union endorsements : Teamsters local 25; Teamsters 122; Laborers 223; IBEW Locals 103 and 104; Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers local 6; Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12; Plasters and Cement Masons local 534; Custodians Local 1952; Pipefitters Local 537; Sprinkler Fitters Local 550; Sheet metal workers Local 17. (Of these, the most significant might be the Custodians union. Most custodians live in the city — unlike the members of many construction Locals —  and they are numerous; and almost all of them vote every election.)

HnS : “Thank you for talking to us !”

We will likely cross Kelly’s campaign path often as we go about Boston neighborhoods this alt month of the Primary campaign. (indeed, we have already met up with him often.) Still, it’s an uphill fight for the first time candidate, even given his already wide-ranging political resume: in addition to being a neighborhood co-ordinator in Mayor Menino’s administration, Kelly was an elected Hillary Clinton delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention — considering the size and strength of the Council field. Incumbents Stephen Murphy and Ayanna Presley are running for re-election; former Councillor Michael Flaherty seeks to return to that body. To win the one remaining at-large seat, Kelly must top Lower Mills native Catherine O’Neill (now a resident of Savin Hill); Marty Keogh, a well known West Roxbury attorney; , former Senator Warren campaign staffer Michelle Wu, a South End resident, North Ender Philip Frattaroli, former District Councillor Gareth Saunders; neighborhood co-ordinator Ramon Soto, a Mission Hill resident; and nine others.

His unique candidate profile and personal witness of major public health issues just might do it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

CORRECTION : this article has been corrected. The original article said that Kelly favored a city wide vote on a casino proposal. In fact, he favors only an East Boston, neighborhood vote. This change has been made in the article that you have read.