Reporter’s Notebook: A look at voting records of District 3 campaigners

Frank Baker’s grandfather worked for the controversial James Michael Curley. His father ran for state representative in 1968. And Baker has worked on the campaigns of U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and state Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Dorchester).

So it’s not a surprise that he is among the District 3 candidates who are the most consistent voters in Boston elections since 2000. The Reporter reviewed records from the Boston Elections Department, finding that Baker has voted in 28 elections over that time.

John O’Toole, former president of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, is close behind Baker, with 26 elections, as is Craig Galvin, a small business owner from St. Mark’s Parish, who has voted in 25 elections.

“We knew the way you got paid attention to is by voting,” Baker said of his family. “I can’t ask you to vote if I’m not voting myself. It’s our No. 1 right.”

Almost all the candidates have voted in every election since 2008, including the municipal elections in 2009 and the special election to replace the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2010.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course, since some candidates lived in different parts of the district and dealt with different election cycles. For example, most of the candidates live in state Rep. Walsh’s district, and therefore could not have voted in the March 2005 special election to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Thomas Finneran, the House speaker who stepped down while he was under the scrutiny of a grand jury looking into his role in the state’s redistricting process. Marydith Tuitt, an aide to state Rep. Gloria Fox (D-Roxbury), was the only one among the seven who voted in that election.

But overall, Stephanie Everett, a top aide to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) who wants to lure disaffected voters back to the ballot box, has a spotty voting record, having hit 15 elections while missing the presidential primary in 2004 and several local elections. Everett said she grew up in a family that didn’t prioritize voting. She also noted that she was in college during several of the elections, as well as a single mother.

Voting is now a “big family event,” she says, and she goes with her husband William and they take their children. Everett has eight children in the blended family: he had three and she had two before they married, and they have three children in their marriage.

Everett said she did not realize how important voting was until she started working for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), a regional planning agency, in 2006. She was unable to vote in the Nov. 2010 election, she said, because her father had passed away and she was in Georgia planning his funeral services.

She also did not vote in the 2007 City Council At-Large elections. “In 2007 I did not vote because I, like many people in our district, did not have the opportunity because of family, work, and education responsibilities,” Everett wrote in a follow-up email. “I was in my final year at Suffolk Law School and working full-time at MAPC. Unfortunately, my work and education obligations did not allow for me on that day to vote.”

Part of the reason she is running for the public office now, she said, is that she hopes to re-engage disaffected voters in a process that affects “everyday things from having pot holes filled to ensuring our children have the best education.”

Tuitt, who has voted in 19 elections since 2000, said the likely reason for missed elections was her travels to see family in the Carolinas. Between 2005 and 2007, she was frequently commuting back and forth to see her son, who was attending school in South Carolina, she said. She could not explain Boston Elections Department records showing that she missed the September primary in 2008.

Martin Hogan, a South Boston native who works in the field of information technology, voted in 21 elections, and disputes records showing that he missed state primaries in 2006 and 2008. Hogan, who ran for City Council At-Large in 2005 and 2007, added that he often traveled for work.

Doug Bennett, a former Nantucket selectman, has voted 10 times in Boston since 2008. Before that, he voted in 30 elections, many of them local “town meetings” under Nantucket’s form of local government. With the exception of voting as a Democrat in the March 2004 presidential primary, he has voted as a Republican. He could not explain the 2004 vote when asked about it, adding that local elections are nonpartisan.

Galvin missed the state primary in Sept. 2004, the January 2002 special state primary which picked then-state Rep. Jack Hart to replace Lynch in the Senate, and the September 2000 state primary. Galvin said he was surprised and disappointed that he missed the votes and promised to “do better.”

O’Toole also missed the January 2002 primary and the September 2000 state primary.

The preliminary election for the District 3 race this year is set for Sept. 27. The top two finishers in the preliminary vote will face off on Nov. 8.

Quote of Note: Bennett will ‘haunt’ constituents

District 3 candidate Bennett has become known for his aggressive campaigning, dropping literature on doorsteps and holding one-man standouts on the corner of Ashmont and Adams. Asked at the forum put together by the St. Mark’s Area Civic Association what voters could expect from his first term, Bennett intimated that he’d continue an aggressive approach, and stress constituent services as his main focus.

He also took some veiled shots at some of the incumbents, saying he would not push to punish Arizona for its anti-immigration law, ban smoking in parks, or hold public hearings on mixed alcoholic drinks. All were proposed by several of the at-large candidates. Instead, he would “come into your house,” Bennett said, causing some startled looks in the audience. “If your sidewalk is cracked and you need it fixed, you call me,” he said, adding that constituents will feel like he will “haunt” their homes.

As the audience laughter died down, fellow candidate Tuitt took the microphone for her turn and said, “It’s hard following behind Doug.”
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