After Menino: Successor pool getting crowded

A city councillor at-large and the former chief executive of a Dorchester hospital entered the Boston mayoral sweepstakes over the last week, bringing to eight the number of candidates who have said they hope to succeed Thomas Menino.

Savin Hill’s Bill Walczak, who founded the Codman Square Health Center and briefly ran Carney Hospital, and Jamaica Plain’s Felix Arroyo, who was elected to the City Council in 2009, announced their candidacies, taking their names off the list of potential candidates and placing them in the burgeoning field of contenders.

Walczak said he brings to the race managerial experience gained at the Codman Square Health Center and Carney Hospital. He is also the founding president of Codman Academy Charter School. “I know how to manage, I know how to build teams, I know what it’s like to run a large organization and to be able accomplish things through those organizations,” he said.

Walczak, who said that Donna Gittens of Ashmont Hill would chair his campaign, lives in the same neighborhood as another mayoral candidate, state Rep. Marty Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat.

After his abrupt departure from Carney Hospital, where he was the CEO for 14 months, Walczak landed at Shawmut Design and Construction as vice president of community relations. He also served on a school assignment advisory panel to Mayor Thomas Menino where he was deeply involved in the group’s efforts to overhaul an unpopular school assignment system.

He said he plans to reduce his hours at Shawmut as the campaign gears up, eventually going into full-time campaign mode.
Arroyo announced his candidacy at SEIU 615 on Tuesday morning. The son of a former city councillor, Arroyo once served as the union’s political director. “I may not have the most money, but you know what I will have? The strongest grassroots campaign, powered by committed volunteers and funded by small donors,” Arroyo told reporters with a crowd of 40 supporters behind him. He said he will raise enough money to compete in the ever-growing field.

Steven Tompkins, the Suffolk County sheriff, appeared at Arroyo’s announcement but said his presence should not be construed as an endorsement. Even so, Tompkins said that Arroyo “stands a real good chance of winning this.” When pressed by reporters, he said, “I believe Boston is ready to elect a mayor of color.”

Along with Walsh, Walczak and Arroyo, other announced candidates include City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, District 5 Councillor Rob Consalvo, and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. Two long-shots, Will Dorcena of Hyde Park and pirate radio station co-founder Charles Clemons, are also running.

Hyde Park’s John Laing Jr. opened a campaign finance account on Monday and listed “mayor” as his desired office, but he did not return several phone calls requesting comment. Potential candidates who are still considering whether to wade into the race include, among others, City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley of Dorchester, School Committee member John Barros of Dorchester, and District 8 Councillor Michael Ross of Mission Hill.

District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson said last week he will not be candidate this year. Jackson, a Grove Hall native who was elected in 2011, called it the “best decision, right now,” and said he is focused on his district, which includes Dorchester, Roxbury, and the South End. “District 7 is the most dynamic, fastest growing, fastest rising, and highest potential district in the city of Boston,” he said.

Other developments in Boston municipal election news include:

Walsh’s mayoral campaign is planning an organizing meeting later this week. The 6:30 p.m. meeting is set for tomorrow (Fri., April 12) at the McKeon Post on Hill Top Street.

Consalvo’s kickoff is set for Thurs., April 25, at the Cedars of Lebanon in Jamaica Plain. The event is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

Connolly has opened a campaign headquarters in Roslindale on Belgrade Ave. He also announced the support of District 6 Councillor Matt O’Malley, state Rep. Ed Coppinger (D-West Roxbury) ,and School Committee member Mary Tamer.

Brian Clinton, Consalvo’s chief of staff and a former candidate for Governor’s Council, could be a candidate in a District 5 race to replace his boss. Another name that’s being floated: Kelly Bates, the executive director of the Access Strategies Fund and a former member of panel that advised Mayor Menino on overhauling the city’s school assignment system.