Potential candidates scramble to clear signature hurdle

Ramon Soto stood outside the Election Department on Tuesday, with his father on the phone, as the clock ticked toward the 5 p.m. deadline to get the last-minute lists of nomination signatures into the hands of elections officials.

Soto and his father, Hector, a Boston Public Schools teacher, had joined several other supporters for a whirlwind tour of Boston that ended up netting them over 1,500 signatures, out of a total 3,000, for Ramon’s at-large bid. Ramon, a 33-year-old Mission Hill resident who has worked in Mayor Thomas Menino’s government affairs office for six years, described the effort as an “all-out blitz the last 24 hours.”

They started at J.P. Licks on Centre St., and then traveled to the South Bay Mall, and then to the Beehive in the South End, before finishing at the Atlantic Beer Garden, just before closing time at 1 a.m. Monday morning.

Soto’s group was back at it hours later, at 6:30 a.m. at Forest Hills. They headed to Roxbury Crossing, then Mattapan Square. They then took off for West Roxbury, and were back on Centre St., where Congressman Ed Markey, the Democratic nominee for the open U.S. Senate seat, was greeting voters in front of the Roche Brothers market.

“I’m feeling pretty good about it,” Ramon told reporters as other municipal candidates hurried into the Election Department.

Ramon’s father, however, was a little worried, and kept calling his son. “Dan should be there,” Ramon told him over the phone, referring to Dan McGonagle, a nephew of Boston’s housing authority chief and Soto’s campaign chairman and treasurer.

McGonagle eventually arrived, with signatures under his arm and time to spare. “How’s Dad doing,” Ramon asked. “He must’ve been freaking out.”

Soto was one of 19 or so candidates for at-large who have turned in the signatures of registered voters in attempt to get on the ballot. There will be two vacancies among the four at-large positions, since City Councillors Felix Arroyo and John Connolly are giving up their seats for mayor.

Sixteen potential candidates turned in signatures for the mayoral ballot, including Arroyo, Connolly and District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey.

“It’s anyone’s guess,” he said when asked how many signatures he submitted.

He said he’s still in the “exploratory stages” of running for either reelection or mayor, or for both, though he marched in last weekend’s Haitian-American Unity Parade with “Charles Yancey for Mayor” signs.
City Councillor Charles Yancey posed with supporters who joined him at the Haitian Unity Parade on Sunday. Yancey has submitted signatures to run for both Mayor and district four council. Bill Forry photoCity Councillor Charles Yancey posed with supporters who joined him at the Haitian Unity Parade on Sunday. Yancey has submitted signatures to run for both Mayor and district four council. Bill Forry photo
Asked whether he was hedging his bets by running for both positions, Yancey compared it to Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan running for both reelection and vice president in 2012. “I’ve been asked to do both by my constituents,” Yancey said. “Some of my constituents are concerned that after 30 years I may no longer have a voice in city government. So they encouraged me to do what I’ve done. I haven’t made an official announcement yet. I probably will wait until after the certification process to do that.”
Across the street, at the Bell In Hand restaurant, supporters of Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley’s mayoral campaign headed up the stairs to the second floor.

Sam Shusterman, Conley’s campaign manager, took to a small stage in the corner of the room, which had filled up with over 150 people. “Hold up your phone, take it out of your pocket,” she said, instructing them to then text the word “volunteer” to a number.

Shusterman noted that the campaign had collected 10,000 signatures from across the city. “That’s a great start,” she said. “But we have a lot more work to do.”

CORRECTION: This article originally stated Dan McGonagle is the Boston housing authority chief's son. He is his nephew.