15 seek Turner’s City Council seat

David Taber

EGLESTON SQ.—A whopping 15 potential candidates to replace former District 7 City Councilor Chuck Turner turned in signatures by the Dec. 30 deadline, and, pending approval by the Boston Election Department, will appear on the Feb. 15 preliminary Special Election ballot.

Jamaica Plain is mostly in City Council’s District 6, but part of Egleston Square is in District 7, and Turner was involved in a number of JP issues in recent years. Those included the redevelopment of the Jackson Square area; efforts to fix apparent structural problems with the Louis Agassiz Elementary—a school now slated for closure; the development of housing for the formerly homeless and a homeless respite care facility in Parkside; and a successful effort to keep the Egleston Square YMCA from closing.

He was voted off City Council by his colleagues in December, following his fellony conviction on federal charges of public corruption for accepting a $1,000 bribe.

The potential candidates to replace him include Tito Jackson, recently a top campaign official in Gov. Deval Patrick’s successful re-election bid. Jackson just missed election as an at large City Councilor in 2009, and has been endorsed by Turner. According to a press release from his campaign, Jackson turned in over 1,000 signatures to the Election Department. Only 191 valid signatures are necessary for placement on the ballot.

Other potential candidates include Natalie Carithers of Dorchester, a former aid to former state rep. Willie Mae Allen; Cornell Mills of Roxbury, son of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson; and Candace Sealey of Roxbury, an aid to US Rep. Michael Capuano.

Also seeking ballot slots are Abdillahi Mash Abdirahman of Roxbury; Anthony Baker of Roxbury; Lee Buckley of Boston; Althea Garrison of Boston; Carla Johnson of Dorchester; Roy Owens of Roxbury; Shencal Parker of Roxbury; Danielle Renee Williams of Roxbury; David Wyatt of Roxbury; James Carr of Boston; and Charles Omekagu Williams of Dorchester.

Haywood Fennell of Roxbury reportedly did not pull papers in time to make the ballot, but could run a sticker campaign, bringing the list of potential candidates to 16.

Jackson, who announced his candidacy in a press release last month, told the Gazette, “Driving around the district, all I see is opportunity…We have to get things started again so folks in the community are able to get jobs. We need to make sure we are providing a world class education, so that people have the tools to compete.”

Garrison, a perennial candidate for elected office, and the only other candidate to contact the Gazette to date, said, “If the voters of district 7 give me a chance, I believe I will far exceed their expectations.”

Gerry Kuddyer from the Boston Election Department told the Gazette she was surprised by the number of candidates who returned signatures—especially considering the short window candidates were afforded to collect them. The Boston City Council voted on the election schedule Dec. 15, and the signature collection period coincided with Christmas and a major snowstorm on Dec. 26.

Kuddyer said four senior staff and one part-time and one full-time employee went to work on that snowy Monday to accommodate potential candidates.

Presuming more than two of the potential candidates make the ballot, the Feb. 15 preliminary will winnow the field down to two candidates. The final Election will be held March 15.

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