Local City Councilor John Tobin will run unopposed this fall after a Jamaica Plain resident decided not to challenge him.
“I’m grateful, but by no means do I take it for granted,” said Tobin, adding that he intends to campaign anyway in what may be the first unchallenged election ever for the JP/West Roxbury/Roslindale District 6 seat.
But the lack of a challenger leaves Tobin free to focus on his next term—and his long-desired run for mayor in 2009 if powerful incumbent Thomas Menino chooses not to seek reelection.
“I can imagine few scenarios that wouldn’t have me there,” Tobin said of the possibility of a 2009 mayoral run. “Just to run for it would be an absolute thrill. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.”
Tobin noted that his priorities always could change, revealing that he and his wife are expecting a second child in November—an “election baby,” he joked.
Hyde Square resident Paul Daigle, owner of the leftist political T-shirt company Off Your Back Shirts and an active member of Neighbors for Neighbors, had pulled nomination papers to run against Tobin. But Daigle told the Gazette he has decided not to run.
“I wasn’t completely convinced John Tobin represented the entire district,” said Daigle. “On several kinds of issues, I think we would have voted differently. I was motivated to see changes on education and housing.”
“I think it’s not if I’ll ever run for elected office, but when,” Daigle said.
Daigle’s complaints echo those of Tobin’s previous main challengers—both of them also JP residents—in the elections since he won the seat in 2001. Tobin actually lost the JP vote in 2005 to Gibrán Rivera, but won the election on the strength of massive support in his home neighborhood of West Roxbury. District-wide, he earned more than 10,000 votes, indicating unusually strong support.
“It feels strange” not to have a challenger, Tobin said, also recalling his original two failed efforts to win the seat and the heated 2001 election that he won by a slim margin.
He said he actually enjoys campaigning, and that he has learned lessons from his challengers. Responding to criticisms and suggestions from Rivera and constituents, Tobin just hired a JP community liaison, Alex Gordillo, who speaks both Spanish and English.
“He’ll be our face and voice in Jamaica Plain,” Tobin said.
For now, Tobin appears to be basking in the electoral calm. “I have a new sense of confidence of the people in my district,” he said.
The City Council election is looking quiet. District 8 Councilor Mike Ross, who represents part of Hyde Square, is also unopposed. District 7 Councilor Chuck Turner, who represents part of Egleston Square, appears to be facing only token opposition, including from perennial candidate Althea Garrison.
In the at-large race for citywide seats, incumbents Felix Arroyo, Michael Flaherty, Steve Murphy and Sam Yoon face five candidates, four of whom appear unlikely to make a dent in the polls.
The exception is West Roxbury resident John Connolly, who placed strongly in a 2005 run before flaming out in the final election. At that time, Connolly looked poised to knock Murphy off the council, a scenario that could repeat itself.
There is also talk that Arroyo, a JP resident, is vulnerable because he has almost no money and has done little campaigning so far. Then again, that’s what everybody said before Arroyo finished strongly in 2005.
The preliminary election will be held Sept. 25 and the final election Nov. 6.