It’s do as I say, not as I do at the polls for some in Fourth Suffolk race

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor and Pat Tarantino, Special to the Reporter
Sep. 2, 2010

They’ve been pressing voters in South Boston, Uphams Corner, the Polish Triangle, and Harbor Point to pull the lever for them in the September primary. But not all of the candidates to replace state Rep. Brian Wallace have beaten a path to the voting booth themselves, a review of voting records shows.

Out of the five young candidates in the politically active neighborhood, Democratic candidate Mark McGonagle, a youth worker, has made the highest number of trips to the voting booth, pulling the lever 29 times since 2000 and far outstripping his fellow Democrats, as well as the lone Republican in the race, with a perfect record. Michael McGee, who moved to Boston in fall 2003, is behind him with 14 elections, while Nick Collins has been to the voting booth 13 times. Jacob Bombard, who turned 18 years old in 2004, made four trips.

The Republican, Patrick Brennan, has voted nine times, including once as a Democrat in the 2008 presidential primary, according to city records.

The primary is on Sept. 14. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Brennan in the Nov. 2 general election.

Each candidate voted in the most recent elections: the special election to replace the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, where South Boston went big for Scott Brown, and the recent mayoral election, where South Boston’s Michael Flaherty went up against longtime incumbent Mayor Thomas Menino.

But some candidates’ records turn spotty after that, according to a Reporter review of records.

Collins, a former aide to state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) who worked on Joseph Biden’s campaign for president, didn’t vote in 2008, missing the presidential primary and the general election.

He voted in the 2007 special election between Bill Linehan and Susan Passoni for the Southie seat on the City Council, but passed on voting in the preliminary for that race, which featured seven candidates.

Collins also voted in the Sept. 11, 2001 primary to replace the late Congressman Joseph Moakley, in which the current incumbent, Stephen Lynch, won the four-way race. Collins did not vote in the general election, where Lynch faced off against Republican state Sen. Jo Ann Sprague.

McGee, a local attorney who previously lived in Norwood and worked for Flaherty’s mayoral campaign last year, missed the aforementioned preliminary in the 2007 special election, but voted in the final election. He also did not vote in the gubernatorial primary in 2006 or the presidential primary in 2004.
McGee said some of his younger years were spent in college, night school, and law school. “I’m sure I missed a couple of those,” McGee said of some of the elections. “Now I make a point to vote in everything.”

Bombard, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, returned to Boston in July 2009. He has voted in the 2004 general election, the 2009 mayoral preliminary and general elections, and the January 19 special election to replace Sen. Kennedy.

“Although I was always a resident of South Boston, I spent most of my four years in Williamsburg,” he told the Reporter. “I’d say that the reason I hadn’t voted was because I didn’t know enough, I didn’t want to make an uninformed decision with my vote.”

Asked about not voting in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary in December, which candidate Martha Coakley won, Bombard said, “I’ll be honest, I know it’s my civic duty to vote in every election, I am a true believer in that, but it’s very hard for me to vote for someone I like, but I don’t believe in. It was hard for me to believe in any of the candidates, but if Stephen Lynch had run for the seat, he would have had my vote.”

Brennan, who moved from New Hampshire to the Greater Boston area in 2004, registered as a Republican within the last two years. Asked why he voted as a Democrat in the 2008 presidential primary, Brennan said, “I’ve always tended to vote as a Republican, but as you probably know there could have been a number of reasons why I may have voted as a Democrat in a primary.”
McGonagle, whose campaign has ties to City Hall and the Menino administration, said, “I take my civic responsibility very seriously.”

Collins, who has ties to the State House and the local firefighters’ union, also did not return phone calls.