Reporter’s Notebook: Essaibi George says no to a run for Walsh seat
Annissa Essaibi George, who ran unsuccessfully for one of the four City Council At-Large slots this year, said on Friday that she will not be a candidate for Mayor-elect Marty Walsh’s seat in the Massachusetts House. “I feel I’m more suited for City Hall,” she said. George, who lives in the Columbia/Savin Hill area and chaired Walsh’s 1997 campaign for the House seat, said she plans to spend the next two years focused on running for at-large in 2015, the next municipal election cycle. Due to her fifth place finish in November, she could also slide into one of the slots if one of the four councillors at-large steps down. “There’s always that chance and you never really know when it comes to the city council,” she said. “Things change pretty quickly sometimes. I’m hopeful that things will change.”
The City Council spent several consecutive days in the news for the first time in years after Councillor-elect Michelle Wu said she would vote for Bill Linehan as Council president. The expected vote, which Wu has said is based on Linehan’s plan to decentralize the presidency and empower council committees, has outraged some local progressive activists who view Linehan as an out-of-step conservative. “I don’t really have a position to take,” George said when asked about the controversy, adding that because she has not been privy to the conversations that councillors have had over the presidency, she did not know whether Wu made the right choice. “Honestly, I don’t know how I would have voted,” George said.
Dan Hunt, an attorney who works for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, has jumped into the race to replace Walsh, who steps down from his State House job on Jan. 3. The dates for the special election will be set after Walsh’s resignation. About 100 people turned out at the Blarney Stone last Saturday for a fundraiser for Hunt, who continues to make the rounds at local civic association meetings.
Hiep Nguyen, who campaigned for an at-large seat in 2009 and runs a small accounting firm in Fields Corner, is mulling a candidacy for the 13th Suffolk District seat. Other potential candidates include Craig Galvin of St. Mark’s and John O’Toole of Cedar Grove, both of whom ran and lost in the 2011 battle for the District 3 Council seat. Clam Point’s Michael Cote has announced his candidacy in a Reporter ad.
Wu seeks to move beyond Linehan vote controversy
Councillor-elect Wu hosted a thank-you party for her volunteers on Monday even as she is weathering the protests of progressive activists who remain angry that one of her first votes as an elected officials will be for Bill Linehan for City Council president. Matt O’Malley of Jamaica Plain and Tito Jackson of Dorchester, two members of the council’s younger, progressive wing, have also been seeking the presidency.
The Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women blasted Wu’s move in a statement issued last week, saying Linehan had a “regressive attitude and a track record of antiquated ideas.” For his part, when asked about the controversy last week, Linehan said, “I’m still in pursuit of votes from my colleagues.” Though the fight for the presidency is always a fluid affair, City Hall insiders believe that Linehan has the seven votes he needs.
On Monday night, Wu stood up on a chair in the basement of Lir, the Back Bay bar where she had held one of her first campaign events to thank about 65 supporters who had worked on her campaign. “Tonight we’re here to celebrate everything that happened over the course of the campaign and all of the outreach that we did, all of the people that we have gotten to know, and I’m just very grateful that people are here tonight so I can thank them in person,” Wu told reporters after addressing supporters.
Fellow incoming City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty, who has also reportedly pledged his vote to Linehan, was at the party, as was Roger Lau, a top aide to US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former state Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck, and interim Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins.
Tompkins defended Wu and said if Linehan “moves to the center even a little bit,” Wu may be viewed differently in the long run. “I think she stands on principle,” he said. “That’s the kind of advocate I’m looking for.”
Joel Wool, a member of Dorchester’s Ward 15 Democratic Committee, also attended the event. He expressed disappointment with Wu’s expected vote for Linehan and her rationale that he would empower committees. “I don’t agree with the assessment, but I respect the decision,” he said, adding that he believes her election was an “incredible victory for Boston and we will all benefit greatly from it.”
Another race to watch in 2014: 7th Suffolk House
Eric ‘Pops’ Esteves, a 34-year-old educator and activist from Roxbury, said this week that he will run for the 7th Suffolk state representative seat currently held by longtime incumbent Rep. Gloria Fox (D-Roxbury), who has sat in the House since 1985.
It is the first run for political office for Esteves, who is originally from South Carolina. He says he expects to focus his campaign on issues of education and economic development. The district includes part of the Fenway area and Northeastern University.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.