Pressley picks Kerry aide as her new campaign manager

By 
Gintautas Dumcius and Mike Deehan, Reporter Staff
Aug. 6, 2009

Meet City Council At-Large candidate Ayanna Pressley’s new campaign director: James Chisholm, a top local aide to U.S. Sen. John Kerry. According to one source close to the campaign, Pressley just wasn’t clicking with her now-former campaign manager, Stuart Rosenberg.

So it’s no surprise that Pressley, a former aide to Kerry herself, has turned to a friend and fellow Kerry staffer to take over. Chisholm, who worked as a deputy press secretary and speechwriter for the senator, officially started work on Pressley’s campaign on Monday.

Chisholm had previously done some volunteering for the Pressley camp. He has also worked as a senior aide on Beacon Hill for state Rep. Timothy Toomey (D-Cambridge) and as a contributor to ESPN.com. Rosenberg, who has worked as a campaign manager for Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry and as a regional field director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

“Stu was on for the beginning, the starting up,” Chisholm told the Reporter on Monday. “He did a great job.”

With the Sept. 22 preliminary election seven weeks away, the campaign’s focus is on getting Pressley in front of as many people as possible and upping her name recognition. Primary voters will winnow fifteen candidates down to eight who will compete for the four seats in November. Asked whether the plan includes getting Sen. Kerry involved, Chisholm said that’s still being discussed. “This is a very local race,” he added. “Ayanna is her own person.”

A fellow City Council contender says he did a poll in May aimed at gauging name recognition and it showed Pressley behind incumbents John Connolly and Stephen Murphy; Felix Arroyo Jr., the son of the former city councillor at-large; Ego Ezedi, who mounted a run against District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey; and Doug Bennett, who has been campaigning for an At-Large seat since May 2008.

Since then, Pressley has been on a heavy endorsement and fundraising spree, as have the others, including Andrew Kenneally, a former City Hall aide.

Nor has her campaign been the only one with changes up top. City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon installed a new campaign manager last month, bringing in his City Hall chief of staff.

Flaherty camp: ‘Tommy Taxes Too Much’

City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty’s mayoral campaign ratcheted up the rhetoric on Monday, ripping into Mayor Thomas Menino over his proposal to raise the city’s meals and lodging taxes.

Campaign manager Jon Romano sent a fundraising appeal to supporters titled “Tommy Tax Too Much.”

“As our city faces the biggest recession since the Great Depression, a 7.6% unemployment rate and a series of layoffs that are undermining the delivery of critical city services, Boston needs responsible leadership,” Romano wrote, saying Menino has a “spending problem” and is on a “dangerous spending spree.”

Romano wrote that the city should be focused on collecting $66 million in unpaid parking tickets and forcing college and universities to pay more than they currently do via PILOTS – voluntary payments in lieu of taxes.

The Menino camp said in a statement that the e-mail contained “baseless charges.”

“We will put the mayor’s record of fiscal responsibility against any mayor’s in the country,” campaign manager Emily Nowlin said. “The city’s unemployment rate is less than the state’s and the nation’s. The revenues that are being added will further broaden the tax base and provide assistance to the residential property owners in the city. The city’s bond rating is a AA plus which is the best indicator of the fiscal well being of the city. He saved the taxpayers over $30 million in refinancing the city’s debt. These are baseless charges, and we’re not going to engage in any negative campaigning.”

The other candidates for mayor, Councillor At-Large Yoon and South End businessman Kevin McCrea, have both expressed some opposition to the tax increases, saying savings at City Hall must be pursued first. Yoon is more nuanced in his stance.

The proposal is up for a Government Operations Committee hearing on Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall. The committee is chaired by District Three Councillor Maureen Feeney.

Endorsement Corner: Owens for Yoon, unions for Kenneally

The first African-American elected to the state Senate endorsed City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon for mayor on Tuesday. “Sam Yoon understands that real leadership means bringing people together to solve the problems facing the city,” former state Sen. Bill Owens asserted in a statement. Saying it’s “time for a new generation of leadership” after 16 years, Owens added, “This is an exciting year with so many young people from our community running for public office.”

Irony alert: Owens knows a little bit about a “new generation” coming in.

He served in the Senate’s Second Suffolk District seat from 1975 to 1983, and then from 1989 to 1993, having been beaten in a bruising 1992 Democratic primary by a young Dianne Wilkerson. (Wilkerson herself was beaten in a primary last year by Sonia Chang-Diaz before she was arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges.)

City Councillor At-Large candidate Kenneally also announced “five in five” – five union endorsements in five days. They included Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Boston Public School Custodians, Local 1952, Carmen’s Union, Local 589, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), District Council 35, Utility Workers Union of America, Local 369.

Revealed: McCrea’s plan to win the prelim

Flattery got mayoral hopeful McCrea nowhere Monday night. Asked by NECN talk show host Jim Braude how he planned to win the preliminary election on Sept. 22, the South End businessman quipped, “I go on Jim Braude’s radio show, I go on your TV station.”

“Well, and I like that…this is a piece of the action,” Braude responded. “But the preliminary is approaching quite rapidly. And so it’s not just the battle of ideas; obviously it’s a battle of who gets in at least the top two to make it into the final. What do you do to make that happen? I’m serious.”

McCrea said he had been door-knocking and sending out fliers. “I do hear it from people, from all over the city. They’re ready for change,” he said. “They haven’t necessarily said ‘I want Kevin McCrea’ yet, but they do want change.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out daily updates on Boston elections at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop.