Bob Terrell, chair of the Roxbury Neighborhood Council (RNC) and a well-known activist in Jamaica Plain’s public transit debates, has entered the race for an at-large Boston City Council seat. That makes five new candidates who already have announced campaigns for the at-large, or citywide, council seats in next fall’s election.
“The city’s at a real crossroads right now” in terms of political and economic challenges, Terrell said in a Gazette interview. “What kind of city do we want to become?…I just want to be part of that debate.”
Sal Giarratani, a state Department of Mental Health police officer and newspaper columnist, is among the at least half-dozen other people publicly considering joining the race, the Gazette has learned.
Incumbent at-large Councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon are considering running for mayor. The other two incumbents, John Connolly and Steve Murphy, are expected to run for re-election.
The other announced candidates include JP’s Felix G. Arroyo, Doug Bennett, Marty Hogan and Jean-Claude Sanon.
The top four vote-getters in the 2009 election will win at-large seats.
Terrell heads two public transit activist groups: the Washington Street Corridor Coalition and On the Move, which is a coalition that include JP’s pro-trolley Arborway Committee.
“I’m one of those folks who supports the restoration of the trolley,” said Terrell, referring to the controversial idea of Green Line service return to S. Huntington Avenue and Centre and South streets.
Terrell also was involved in the recent advocacy to save the JP Loop MBTA bus route. [See related article.]
Terrell was involved in the RNC’s recent joint review with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council of the Jackson Square redevelopment plans.
Terrell also has a TV career, hosting the BNN-TV talk show “City Journal.” He said he would consider keeping the show if he wins a council seat.
While some observers—and even some city councilors—complain that the City Council isn’t very powerful in Boston’s strong-mayor system of government, Terrell said he disagrees. “I think it has a lot of power and authority it can use,” he said. “The City Council is one major venue where [debate on city issues] all comes together.”
Terrell served as chief of staff to former City Councilor Anthony Crayton 15 years ago. A decade ago, he ran for Roxbury’s District 7 City Council seat, which today includes part of Egleston Square. While that campaign was unsuccessful politically, Terrell said, it was an educational success.
“I learned so much about my neighborhood,” he said. “Put your name on a ballot and run, and you’ll be amazed at what people tell you.”
Giarratani, 60, is a Roxbury native who now lives in Roslindale. He is known for his columns in the Post-Gazette, a Boston-based Italian-American newspaper, and for his regular letters to the editor published in all Boston newspapers.
He has frequently advised other candidates, and has a sideline career as a movie and TV show extra, including in the upcoming Donnie Wahlberg mobster drama “Bunker Hill.”
“The political climate is ready for new voices and new faces,” Giarratani told the Gazette. “I think I’m a very normal, working-class person who’s suffering like everyone else…and trying to keep a good sense of humor about it.”
Giarratani is surely the only potential candidate who can claim direct inspiration from James Michael Curley, Boston’s famously (and notoriously) populist Irish mayor of the early 1900s, who lived in JP.
At age 7, in 1955, Giarratani met Curley. When Giarranti’s mother mentioned that he is part Irish and part Italian, Curley responded, “I wish I was half-Italian. I would’ve gotten so many more votes.”
“He told me, ‘You should run for office.’ So can I say I was endorsed by James Michael Curley?” Giarratani said with a laugh.