Candidates hail backers, stress goals on diversity

Dorcena Forry stands with Walsh: The state senator endorsed her State House colleague in a Mattapan Square press conference. Image courtesy Walsh campaignDorcena Forry stands with Walsh: The state senator endorsed her State House colleague in a Mattapan Square press conference. Image courtesy Walsh campaignState Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly unleashed a cascade of endorsements in the last week as they continued their campaigns to succeed Mayor Thomas Menino.

With the Nov. 5 final election less than three weeks away, the candidates have largely focused on touting the support of fellow elected officials and ministers, with Walsh also locking up the support of the third-place finisher in the preliminary election, former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie, whose endorsement was eagerly sought after by both men.

Both camps used their endorsement events to stress that they would diversify city government upon taking office.

Yesterday, Walsh also picked up the endorsement of state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, who represents Dorchester and South Boston, and Rev. Jeffrey Brown.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Rev. Brown and Senator Forry,” Walsh said in a statement. “Linda isn’t just a colleague - she is my friend. Having her support is more than a political endorsement, and I’m grateful to have her standing by me today.” Dorcena Forry is married to Bill Forry, editor of the Reporter.

On Saturday, outside the First Parish Church on Meetinghouse Hill, the Walsh camp displayed a powerful image of Walsh and Golar Richie, joined by former mayoral race rivals Felix Arroyo and John Barros, walking down the sidewalk towards a crowd of supporters.

Charlotte Golar Richie endorses Walsh: The third-place finisher in September's preliminary election is the third candidate of color to back Walsh. Photo courtesy Walsh campaignCharlotte Golar Richie endorses Walsh: The third-place finisher in September's preliminary election is the third candidate of color to back Walsh. Photo courtesy Walsh campaignAddressing Walsh’s background – a white Irish-American man from Dorchester – Golar Richie, who was the lone woman in the preliminary race, said, “Let’s not let, sort of, appearances or the way he says ‘Chaah-lotte,’ let’s not let that fool you, okay? Marty is the new Boston, hands down. We are going with the people’s choice and I am proud to stand with you today.”

Representatives from several groups from communities of color, from Oiste to Chinese Progressive Political Action, have also endorsed Walsh, while Connolly has picked up the backing of the Bay State Banner.

In Roxbury last week, a group of eighteen black clergy crowded around City Councillor At-Large John Connolly to announce their endorsement of him in the mayoral race. Pastor Bruce Wall, who was in New York that day, sent a supportive statement on Connolly’s behalf. Several of these ministers had at one point been critics of Connolly. Last year, when he called on then-Superintendent Carol Johnson to step down due to her mishandling a personnel matter at the O’Bryant School, they leapt to her defense and laced into Connolly.

But last Thursday, yesterday several of the clergy stood with Connolly, including Rev. Miniard Culpepper, who was briefly a mayoral candidate earlier this year and had endorsed Golar Richie in the preliminary, and Pastor William Dickerson, among others. Culpepper called state Rep. Marty Walsh a “good man” while adding, “I think we need John Connolly,” he said, citing the councillor’s decision to turn down $500,000 from an education reform group willing to spend outside money on his behalf in the preliminary.

Connolly said he was humbled by their support and noted that he was once a youth minister at Holy Name in West Roxbury. Speaking with reporters after the endorsement, Connolly said he had worked closely with the ministers on violence and education issues over the course of several years, and they had come to see “that I deeply care about the schools.” The candidate, an attorney and former teacher, added, “The Carol Johnson situation actually brought me closer with some of them and we... built a relationship over a course of time over that.”

Culpepper had asked Connolly to sit down with Johnson, who stepped down earlier this year, shortly after Menino said he would not be running for a sixth term. “[Culpepper] asked if I was going to persist in calling for her resignation and I basically said after we had talked, like, I was not going to persist in it and that I’m going to try to work constructively with her,” Connolly said.

After the endorsement event outside Connolly’s campaign office in Roxbury, there was some initial disagreement over whether Connolly had pledged to appoint a superintendent of color if he won. “I just want to be clear on one statement. … what I committed to is to make sure we have a diverse School Committee,” he told reporters. “The search for a superintendent, I’d love to have a superintendent of color, but it’s going to be a search for the best superintendent.” He added, “I want to see the most diverse cabinet in the history of Boston and I think we can do that, and I think we’ll be a stronger and better city for it.”

Standing with Rev. Dickerson and speaking to two reporters after the endorsement, Rev. Culpepper said Connolly had committed to diversifying his staff and the police department. When asked if the candidate had guaranteed that he would hire a superintendent of color, Dickerson said yes. “Yes, he wants to appoint a superintendent of color and also a police commissioner of color,” Dickerson said. “And so those things are important to us because Boston is a diverse city and our upper management ought to represent its diversity.”

Asked again by the Reporter to confirm Connolly specifically guaranteed that he would hire a superintendent of color, Dickerson said, “Young man, you must be new to this city. You don’t know who I am? If I say it, I mean it. It’s Dickerson, that’s how I roll.” When the Reporter asked Culpepper whether Connolly had made a similar pledge to him, the minister said, “I wasn’t in that meeting.”

Soon after the endorsement event ended, Dickerson called both reporters to say that he had misspoken and that he was retracting his comments, noting that Connolly did not specifically guarantee hiring a superintendent of color. Instead, the minister said, he had pledged to have a diverse police staff and Boston Public Schools staff, and search for the best possible candidate for superintendent.