Council Candidates Submit Signatures, Load up for Summer Campaign

With Boston voters still months away from turning their attention to it, the roster of candidates for the municipal elections this fall is sorting itself out, with mayoral and city council candidates turning in signatures in time for the May 24 deadline.

Both Dorchester city councillors will face tests in the fall, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino will battle at least one challenger, at-large Councillor Maura Hennigan, and possibly a second, if all of former Councillor Gareth Saunders's nomination paper signatures qualify. The at-large contenders, excited by Hennigan's planned departure creating an open seat, number 17, pending the approval of their signatures.

Both Jaha M. Hughes and J.R. Rucker figure to challenge District Four Councillor Charles Yancey, while Michael Cote is running against District Three Councillor Maureen Feeney.

Saunders represented Dorchester and Roxbury during three terms on the council in the mid-1990s. The Franklin Field resident is the first Dorchester pol to run seriously for mayor since former state Rep. James Brett lost out to Menino in 1993.

The at-large field includes three Dorchester contenders: housing activist Sam Yoon of Fields Corner, translator Joseph Ureneck of Fields Corner, and frequent candidate Althea Garrison of Uphams Corner.

Boston voters traditionally don't begin paying attention to their local elections until well into the summer, or later. This year, the campaign season's profile is heightened by a contested mayoral election, and a glut of at-large candidates.

The city's elections commission will certify the nomination papers by June 28, with the preliminary election slated for September 27 and the final election on November 8.

Mayoral candidates needed 3,000 signatures, at-large hopefuls needed 500, and district bidders needed 200.