2009 City Council campaigns begin

November 21, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH AND DAVID TABER

Barrios joins Arroyo team

The 2008 election season is over. The 2009 election season has just begun.

Four candidates—Felix G. Arroyo, Doug Bennett, Marty Hogan and Jean-Claude Sanon—are already running for citywide, or “at-large,” Boston City Council seats in next year’s municipal election.

Jarrett Barrios, a popular former state senator who recently moved to Jamaica Plain, is the co-chair of Arroyo’s campaign, the Gazette has learned.

The Gazette has learned that at least two other newcomers are considering at-large runs: Tomas Gonzalez, the former Latino liaison at the Mayor’s Office, now a Boston University Medical Campus community relations official; and Andrew Kenneally, an East Boston resident and former aide to City Councilor Michael Flaherty and former Councilor Maura Hennigan.

And at least two more potential candidates have their names circulating among the city’s political observers; David Halbert, a communications staffer for City Councilor Sam Yoon; and Robert Terrell, a well-known Roxbury activist who heads the Washington Street Corridor Coalition.

Meanwhile, Carlos Henriquez is considering making another run against incumbent Chuck Turner for the District 7 council seat, which includes Egleston Square. Turner beat Henriquez in the 2007 election.

“I haven’t stopped thinking about running for council” since 2007, Henriquez told the Gazette. “It’s definitely something we’re considering.”

JP resident Arroyo, 29, is the son of former at-large City Councilor Felix D. Arroyo. Now field director at the health care policy organization Northeast Action, Felix G. Arroyo announced his candidacy on Nov. 4, as the Gazette previously reported.

Arroyo said he is “absolutely committed to ensuring that all people in the city of Boston can participate in the decisions that affect their lives.”

He said that he has consulted with his father—who lost his at-large seat last year—about the campaign. He credited both parents for instilling in him “values of equity and respect and justice and family.” The elder Arroyo did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

Arroyo is building an experienced campaign team, including Barrios as co-chair. The former Cambridge state senator is now president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts, a health care organization. Barrios’s spouse is Doug Hattaway, a high-level Democratic Party operative who was national spokesperson for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.

“The energy and ideas that Felix can offer the council are truly exciting,” Barrios, who has known Arroyo more than a decade, told the Gazette. Noting Arroyo’s experience with organized labor, immigrants’ issues and youth programs, Barrios said, “This is a guy whose voice can make a difference.”

Also on Arroyo’s team as field director is Mark Pedulla, an experienced campaign and community organizer. Pedulla managed the 2005 City Council campaign of Gibrán Rivera, who beat incumbent John Tobin in the JP part the council district. This year, Pedulla headed a successful, non-partisan get-out-the-vote effort run by youths at the Hyde Square Task Force.

Pedulla said Arroyo’s goal is to build a campaign organization that will continue as “infrastructure” to keep him connected with constituents if he becomes a councilor.

Bennett, a 32-year-old Suffolk County Criminal Court administrator who lives downtown, was recently door-knocking in JP this week as part of his campaign to meet 100,000 Boston residents in person. He stopped by the Gazette office as part of his door-knocking campaign.

Bennett announced his campaign in May, using the head start to knock on 25,000 doors already, he told the Gazette.

A former Nantucket county commissioner, Bennett recently moved to Boston and has been observing City Council hearings. “I haven’t been satisfied with the job they’ve been doing,” he told the Gazette. “It’s time for new blood.”

Bennett is a Republican who has described himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He made a failed run for a state Senate seat in 2006.

Hogan, a Dorchester resident, ran unsuccessful at-large campaigns in 2005 and ’07. He announced his 2009 candidacy in a Nov. 11 post to his campaign blog, VoteMartyHogan.blogspot.com.

Hogan ran as an “everyday person” two years ago, but is positioning himself as a “change” candidate this year. A statement on his campaign blog says he seeks to end “all the posturing and backdoor political circus” on the City Council.

“We have in the past two election cycles elected new blood to the council,” Hogan said in a written statement to the Gazette. “Unfortunately, they have largely ignored the will of the people.”

Sanon, a 49-year-old Mattapan resident, told the Gazette that he decided to run shortly after completing a 16-week training through the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership run by the state political group ¿Oiste?.

Born in Haiti, Sanon has been living in the Boston area since 1975. He described himself as a “culturally sensitive,” unifying figure.

“I am ready to break walls,” he said. “I am dreaming of a better Boston where people come together and help each other. I believe if we come together, we will have a better understanding of each other, a better team—a better Boston.”

A longtime community activist in Mattapan, Sanon has worked as an English for Speakers of Other Languages instructor at the Haitian American Public Health Initiative and as the host of a radio show.

Gonzalez, a Hyde Park resident who was mentioned as a possible candidate in a recent Boston Phoenix article, declined to comment for this article, saying is still considering a run. A decade ago, Gonzalez was a JP resident and was among the candidates Liz Malia beat to become the 11th Suffolk District state representative.

Kenneally, who most recently worked for an environmental public relations corporation, told the Gazette that a council run is “something I’m considering” after friends suggested it. Word of Kenneally’s potential candidacy has traveled fast, with local City Councilor John Tobin among those who mentioned it to the Gazette.

“It’s a fantastic job,” Kenneally said of the citywide councilor position. “I love helping people, and that’s what the job is all about. I haven’t made a decision…I’m just flattered by people mentioning my name.”

In turn, Kenneally said he has heard that Terrell is also considering a run. Terrell could not immediately be reached for comment.

Halbert, another graduate of the ¿Oiste? Candidate training program, could not be reached for comment. He was mentioned in a Boston Globe column last year as intending to run for office one day. The Dorchester Reporter recently reported on rumors of his interest in a 2009 City Council run.

David James Wyatt, a resident of Academy Homes in Jackson Square, made an unsuccessful at-large run in 2007. He could not be reached for immediate comment on whether he is considering another shot at the office.

Henriquez said he has been in discussion with some potential at-large candidates. It is possible that a group of candidates will run together as a slate, he said.

The top four vote-getters in the at-large council election will win seats. Re-election campaigns are expected from the incumbents: John Connolly, Flaherty, Steve Murphy and Yoon. But Flaherty and Yoon reportedly have already held gatherings in preparation for running for the Mayor’s Office.

The biggest question looming over the 2009 election is whether Mayor Thomas Menino, a longtime incumbent, will run yet again—or, if he retires, which candidate he might throw his enormous political leverage behind.

District city council seats also will be on the ballot next year. There is no sign yet of challengers for Tobin, whose District 6 seat covers most of JP, and soon-to-be council president Mike Ross, whose District 8 includes part of Hyde Square.

Candidates have until May to officially declare themselves. Nomination forms are not even available yet.