JP candidates join busy city races

May 1, 2009
By

JOHN RUCH

Jamaica Plain candidates have joined the busy races for the Mayor’s Office and citywide Boston City Coun-cil seats.

Gareth Saunders, the former District 7 city councilor, joined nine others running for mayor—including incumbent Thomas Menino, who finally announced his campaign last week.

JP’s citywide or “at-large” City Council candidates include Felix G. Arroyo—who declared his candidancy last fall—along with Sean Ryan and Dr. Francisco Trilla.

Meanwhile, four other candidates are now in the race for the District 7 City Council seat currently held by Chuck Turner, who is facing federal corruption charges.

As of last week, shortly after nomination papers for candidates became available, there were no announced challengers for local City Councilors John Tobin in District 6 and Mike Ross in District 8.

None of the candidates are officially on the ballot yet for the Sept. 22 city preliminary election. They first have to collect voters’ signatures to qualify themselves. More candidates could still join the races because candidates have until May 12 to apply for nomination papers.

Mayoral race

Saunders, a resident of Robeson Street in the Parkside area, is the former head of the Roxbury Neighbor-hood Council and served as a city councilor for most of the 1990s. In 1999, he decided not to run again, creating a free-for-all election won by Turner.

In 2005, Saunders also considered a mayoral run, but failed to collect enough signatures.

Saunders did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

Menino also did not respond to a Gazette interview request for this article. Earlier this year, he told the Gazette, “I love my job.”

Menino was already facing three well-established challengers: City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon and South End developer Kevin McCrea.

Now they’re joined in the race by William Feegbeh of Brighton; Roy Owens of Dorchester; Joseph Wiley of East Boston; John Hanney of South Boston; and William Leonard of Roxbury. Leonard ran unsuccessfully last year as a Socialist Workers Party candidate for JP’s state Senate seat.

McCrea and Owens both took out papers to run for City Council seats as well: Owens for the District 7 seat and McCrea for an at-large seat.

McCrea told the Gazette that he is running for the Mayor’s Office, but will run for the council seat in-stead if it turns out that he can’t get enough voter signatures to make the mayoral ballot. Fewer signatures are needed to make the City Council ballot. McCrea said he expects to get the mayoral race signatures, but wants insurance that his campaign and point of view will be on the ballot somewhere this year.

Owens did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

At-large race

With at least 19 candidates announced, the at-large field is already more than twice as large as it was in the 2007 city election.

Arroyo, the son of former Boston City Councilor Felix D. Arroyo, already has a high-profile campaign or-ganization up and running.

Ryan, 28, is a JP native who currently lives on Lamartine Street in central JP. He ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for an Ohio congressional seat last year and previously registered as a Republican to vote for Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul. He is currently unenrolled, or independent.

Ryan’s politics are largely Libertarian and his focus is on economic policies as key to various national and local troubles.

Ryan described himself as a “self-taught economist of the Austrian school.” The “Austrian school” is an economic theory that criticizes planned and highly regulated economies in favor of largely free-market economies. The Austrian school is frequently criticized by mainstream economists as a pseudoscience.

Ryan said he is working to introduce a “local currency”—printed bills that are accepted as money in cer-tain regions or neighborhoods alongside normal US money. One version of local currency is already operating in the Berkshires. Such a program is one effort that could make Boston more of an “independent city,” Ryan said.

Ryan noted that JP residents are often politically “progressive—some of them even border on being social-ist.” In their political critiques, “They just blame it all on capitalism,” Ryan said. “I can’t let people keep saying those things anymore.”

Ryan said he learned in the Ohio campaign that, “People are aware they’re getting fleeced by the govern-ment. That’s not a partisan issue.” Education about monetary policy is what they need to improve their un-derstanding, he said.

His monetary policy educational efforts include a recent cross-country trip by motorcycle to visit all the Federal Reserve Banks and hand out informational pamphlets.

A classically trained pianist and orchestral conductor, Ryan is currently working as a hot dog vendor at Fenway Park. He said his musical career is on hold as he enters politics.

Trilla, 53, lives at the Monument Square house that also contains his Atreva Health Care medical prac-tice. He has provided health care at the site under various affiliations since 1986.

In 2004, Trilla attempted to run against state Rep. Liz Malia—even moving to another part of JP to be in her district. But he quit the campaign after facing various legal complexities related to a court-ordered redistricting plan and his belated switch from the Democratic Party to unenrolled status.

As in 2004, Trilla said part of his motivation for running is to make sure there are challengers and en-suring democracy.

In an interview with the Gazette in his office overlooking Monument Square, Trilla said “neighborhood health”—broadly defined—is a major issue.

That includes actual health care. He called for capping and rolling back health insurance costs, noting their “pervasive” social costs in such areas as the city’s exploding union-contract budget. “Nobody at HMOs is getting laid off,” Trilla said.

Trilla said he is on the board of directors of MinuteClinic, the company that controversially introduced small health clinics in CVS chain pharmacies—a move that Menino has blocked in Boston.

But Trilla is also concerned with social health—issues such as crime and improving public schools. An-other example, he said, is the urban location of Boston University’s controversial proposed high-level bio-logical laboratory, which he called “hard to understand.”

“I think it’s one of the most exciting and political neighborhoods in the country, and certainly still a leader in Boston,” Trilla said of JP. “A lot of good ideas and energy and innovations come from JP.”

In the early 1990s, Trilla was involved in a prolonged battle with state regulators over his alleged overbilling of Medicaid payments by about $56,000. State officials previously told the Gazette that the case was settled with some payments and an agreement that Trilla was not at fault. As part of the controversy, Trilla staged a press conference and partial shutdown of his office to decry what he called an attempt to destroy primary health care for the Latino community.

Trilla served on Menino’s mayoral transition team in 1993 and is supporting Menino in this year’s race. “I think Tom’s done a good job,” he said.

Incumbent at-large City Councilors John Connolly and Steve Murphy are running for re-election. The other current candidates include: Peter Lin-Marcus of Chinatown/downtown; Natalie Carithers, Ego Ezedi, Robert Fortes, Marty Hogan, Jaha Hughes, Hiep Nguyen and Bill Trabucco of Dorchester; Andrew Kenneally of East Boston; Doug Bennett of the Financial District; Tomás Gonzalez of Hyde Park; Jean-Claude Sanon of Mattapan; and Scotland Willis of Roxbury.

Gonzalez has drawn an endorsement from local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez.

District 7

Turner has represented District 7, which includes most of Egleston Square and some of Parkside in JP, for a decade. He has usually easily won re-election. But now he is facing federal corruption charges, including one count of bribe-taking.

Turner has proclaimed his innocence and confidence in his re-election. Carlos “Tony” Henriquez of Roxbury already announced a run for the seat, saying Turner is too focused on political theatrics.

Three other perennial candidates are now in the race as well: David Wyatt of Academy Homes in Jackson Square; Althea Garrison of Dorchester; and Owens.

Garrison runs for various offices virtually every year, and once served a term as a state representative. She said she is running to save the district.

“I don’t think Chuck Turner is getting the job done,” Garrison said. “I’ve lived in Boston 35 years, and I’ve seen District 7 totally destroyed.”

“And plus, I’m not corrupt,” she said.

Asked if that means she believes Turner is guilty of corruption, Garrison said, “I believe he has some ethical problems.” She said they include the federal charges, but declined to describe the other problems. “I don’t want to go into all that,” she said.

Garrison said Turner is too focused on global issues rather than community issues, such as affordable housing, youth crime and job creation. She said that during her time in the State House, she secured about 25 jobs for the community.

Garrison’s voicemail includes a campaign message. Before a caller can leave a message, Garrison’s recorded greeting warns them in part, “Wake up, voters! Wake up, voters! Stop acting like you’re brain-dead!”

Wyatt, on the other hand, told the Gazette he is running as “insurance” that Turner’s politics will still be represented in the city if Turner himself is forced to drop out of the race.

Wyatt said he has not even spoken with Turner about his candidacy. But, Wyatt said, he agrees generally with Turner’s positions on such issues as reforming the method of reporting of criminal records to employers. Wyatt said he has regularly attended the District 7 Roundtable community meetings held by Turner.

Asked about Turner’s legal situation, Wyatt said that “a person is entitled to due process, and nothing is determined until a matter goes to a jury. I feel sometimes people have been treated unfairly and there’s been a rush to judgment.”

He added that he considers Garrison “a great friend.”

Owens frequently runs for office as well, usually citing themes of community empowerment and conservative Christian morals. At a 2005 candidate forum, he attributed most of the city’s problems to abortion, single motherhood and the “homosexual lifestyle.”

Owens’ voicemail greeting advises callers to leave a message—or, if they can’t wait, “Call on Jesus, and everything will be alright.”

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