Long-shot candidate challenges Feeney for second time

Michael Coté's website touts a lone endorsement: The Massachusetts ACORN Political Action Committee.

"I think it is a long shot," Coté admits of his second run at the District 3 seat held by Boston City Council President Maureen Feeney. "Whether I win or lose depends on whether people are upset" about the issues in play, including property taxes and the number of cops on the street.

In the last local election in 2005, Feeney retained the seat she has held since 1993, garnering 80 percent of the vote to Coté's 19 percent. In the intervening two years, Feeney has become president of the council, a leadership post that brought her more staff and resources and a much higher profile on the city stage.

Coté has no campaign staff and is relying on postcards and ads in the Reporter in raising his profile. ACORN is providing door-knockers, he added.

Back in 2005, Coté, a Fields Corner resident, ran on zoning code reform and getting developers to recognize Dorchester residents in negotiations. Now he points to rising property taxes and public safety concerns, taking a page from Gov. Deval Patrick's campaign notebook. (Coté volunteered for Patrick in 2005, along with other local campaigns.)

"I felt as though these things needed to be talked about," he said in a phone interview, adding later, "A lot of the concern I have comes from having heard [Patrick] speak."

Earlier this year, Coté went to court alongside Florida Corridor resident Barry Mullen, suing the city of Boston to press them to keep police staffing levels at 2,500 officers. The suit was finally dismissed in July.

Coté said if elected, he will push the Boston Redevelopment Authority to reevaluate the buildings it's giving tax breaks to, like One Beacon Street on Beacon Hill. The city can't wait for casinos and meals taxes, he said, in reference to two proposals Patrick is submitted to the Legislature that are both awaiting movement.

Coté also accuses Feeney, a seven-term incumbent, of not understanding how property taxes work.

"I'm not an accountant, but I've written software that's used by accountants," said Coté, who holds a Computer Science degree from UMass-Boston and works as a system analyst for the Watertown-based Liaison International. Coté added that she dismisses him whenever he brings up the issue.

"He certainly doesn't get it right," Feeney says in response. "How could I be at the State House testifying?" she added, in reference to her support for Patrick's plan to give cities and towns the option of setting meals taxes. "I have no idea what he's talking about."

Feeney, a resident of the Cedar Grove section of Dorchester, points to her time at the Ward 16 Democratic Committee, along with her 14 years on the city council, where she has served on its government operations committee and chaired it, worked through 13 city budgets, along with participating in the merger of Boston City Hospital that created Boston Medical Center. Before running herself, she was a top aide for another Dorchester councilor, Jim Byrne.

"It's hard not to be offended," she said.

Feeney also pointed to the city hiring 195 police officers and deploying them on walking beats through the Safe Street Initiative, and the implementation of the Shot Spotter system, which detects where gunshots come from.

"In terms of public safety, I'm proud of what we've done."

On property taxes, Feeney noted the city allows seniors to be charged at a lowered tax interest rate of 4 percent on deferred bills.

"The piece that is so critical to all of that is the creation of a diverse revenue stream," she said.