Reporter's Notebook: Signatures tally suggests little worry for incumbents

It may be a quiet year for most Dorchester Democrats after all. Nomination signatures were due at local elections departments last week and the news is that few members of the neighborhood’s State House delegation will be facing challengers in the fall.

The signatures must still be certified by the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections. But the list of people who turned in their signatures gives a glimpse of what to expect in the coming months as well as a look at which incumbents might have to sweat a little on the campaign trail this summer.

The race that could attract more interest than the others would be in the Seventh Suffolk House District: state Rep. Gloria Fox is facing challenges from Jed Hresko and Rufus Jackson Faulk, a pair of community activists. All are Democrats, setting up a potential primary in September if their signatures have been filed properly.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat who represents a small part of Dorchester, and state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, a freshman representing the Fifth Suffolk House District, could end up with Roy Owens and Althea Garrison, respectively, as challengers. Owens and Garrison frequently make the ballot, but have shown little electoral success after that. Garrison served a single term in the House in the 1990s and since then has repeatedly run for local and state offices.

Henriquez’s fellow freshmen in the delegation, Reps. Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) and Nick Collins (D-South Boston) will likely coast to reelection, with no challengers submitting signatures in time. State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, who has served since 2005, had a potential challenger in Edmund Romulus, but he did not submit enough signatures. The veterans of the Dorchester delegation, state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) and state Rep. Marty Walsh, are unlikely to face challengers.

Ward 16 Dems to be headed by a new man named Hunt
The Ward 16 Democratic Committee torch was passed from one to another, as Jim Hunt II handed the chairmanship over to one of his sons, Dan. Jim, the head of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, had held the post for over a decade. The ward includes Fields Corner, down through Cedar Grove, and over to the Neponset River. The new chairman works for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Passing the baton: Dan Hunt (left) assumes the chairmanship of the Ward 16 Democratic Committee from his father James W. Hunt II.Passing the baton: Dan Hunt (left) assumes the chairmanship of the Ward 16 Democratic Committee from his father James W. Hunt II.

The committee elected its officers last week at the McKeon Post. Former City Councillor Maureen Feeney, now Boston’s city clerk, remains as vice chair. Alan Duffy and Frank Doyle, an ex-aide to former Mayor Ray Flynn, are the treasurer and secretary, respectively. Adalberto Teixeira was voted in as affirmative action officer, and Barbara Bailey will be the panel’s recording secretary, according to Doyle.

Proposed redistrict map slices off part of Lower Mills

City Councillors are struggling to reach a consensus on a map that redraws their nine districts. One of the latest maps circulating within City Hall includes lopping off a section of District 3, which is Lower Mills, and putting it in District 4. Two precincts – Ward 17’s Precincts 12 and 14 – would be swung into City Councillor Charles Yancey’s district, and out of freshman Councillor Frank Baker’s District 3. The proposed map also takes Ward 8, Precinct 6 out of District 7, represented by Councillor Tito Jackson, and puts it into District 3.

But the map, like others, will be tough for some to swallow, since it also appears to split Mission Hill. District 8 Councillor Michael Ross has registered opposition to any proposal that seeks to do that, and has proposed his own map. City Councillors Jackson and Matt O’Malley have proposed their own maps.

The chair of the committee tasked with redrawing the district lines, Councillor Bill Linehan, was not immediately available for comment.
The lines are redrawn after every US Census in order to reflect population shifts. In the latest Census, Boston gained residents, but sections of the city lost population individually, according to official counts. Those parts include Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roslindale, and West Roxbury.

Linehan has frequently compared redrawing the maps to working a “Rubik’s cube.” The size of each district’s voting precincts, which have not been changed in nearly 80 years, varies, with some being larger than others, complicating any overhaul of district lines. The lines must be redrawn by the fall, ahead of next year’s municipal election.

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