Reporter’s Notebook: Two possibles say no to run for Walsh seat

The 13th Suffolk District field remained in flux this week as one candidate waded deeper into the upcoming race to replace state Rep. Marty Walsh while two potential contenders said they would sit this one out.

Steve Bickerton Jr., a local operative who worked on Walsh’s mayoral campaign, and Michael Christopher, a former Walsh aide at the State House now working for Gov. Deval Patrick, said they would be taking a pass on the race. And both said they haven’t decided whom they’ll be backing.

Dan Hunt, the chair of the Ward 16 Democratic Committee, has opened a campaign fundraising committee with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. He is the first, and so far the only, candidate to declare his intention to run for the seat once Walsh takes office as Boston’s mayor. The mayor-elect is expected to step down from the State House seat, which he has held for 16 years, around the end of the year. His inauguration is set for Jan. 6. Hunt’s brother, James Hunt III, who was among the candidates who ran against Walsh in 1997, is listed as the chairman of campaign committee, according OCPF records available online.

The 13th Suffolk District includes Savin Hill, Clam Point, and parts of Codman Square, Adams Village, and Port Norfolk. The district line stretches across the Neponset River and into the northern part of Quincy, which has several high-rise apartment buildings that would fall under the next representative’s aegis.

While some potential candidates may be floating their names for the race for representative in case there’s an opening on the City Council, District 3’s Frank Baker said this week he isn’t going anywhere. Local political observers have speculated that Baker, who has known Walsh since grammar school, could take a job within a Walsh administration. Others have apparently asked the councillor if he’s interested in Walsh’s State House seat. But Baker, who was reelected unopposed on Nov. 5, says he’s staying put. According to Election Department figures, he won 9,945 votes while receiving 6,776 blank ballots.

Other potential candidates for the Walsh seat include Craig Galvin, a St. Mark’s Area resident with Neponset roots who owns a local real estate firm, and Annissa Essaibi George, a yarn shop owner from the Columbia-Savin Hill area who finished in fifth place in this fall’s race for four City Council at-large seats.

Other names floated in Dorchester political circles include Michael Cote, who had challenged Maureen Feeney when she held the District 3 seat; Pope’s Hill Civic Association’s Phil Carver; former District 3 candidate John O’Toole; Project HIP-HOP executive director Mariamma White-Hammond; and Cedar Grove Civic Association’s Sean Weir.

Jackson, O’Malley among those eyeing City Council presidency

With the municipal races behind them, city councillors and their incoming new colleagues are turning to another election: Council president.

District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson (Dorchester, Roxbury and South End), who won another two-year term on Nov. 5 and chairs the Global Opportunities Committee, has been lobbying for the post. District 6 Councillor Matt O’Malley (Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury), chair of the Government Operations Committee, is another name being bandied about inside City Hall. Other names in the mix, according to City Hall insiders, include District 9 Councillor Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton), who has served as Ways and Means Committee chair; District 2 Councillor and Economic Development Committee chair Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End and Chinatown); and District 1 Councillor Sal LaMattina (East Boston, the North End and Charlestown), who has been serving as City Council vice president. Also, District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey (Dorchester and Mattapan), who has spent 30 years on the Council and a single term as president in 2001, will likely make another run at the job.

The current president, Stephen Murphy, a councillor at-large who was reelected to the 13-member council in November, is term-limited in the largely ceremonial gig. Elected by a vote of the council, the president gets the gavel, a bigger staff, and a spacious office. More substantively, the president becomes acting mayor should the incumbent leave office (e.g., Thomas Menino became the acting mayor in 1993 after President Clinton appointed Ray Flynn ambassador to the Vatican) and serves as acting mayor if the incumbent is out of the state.

Along with a new president, the council will present three new faces in January: the South End’s Michelle Wu, who will be the new city councillor at-large; Hyde Park’s Tim McCarthy, the victor in the District 5 race, and the Back Bay’s Josh Zakim, who won the District 8 race. Michael Flaherty of South Boston, who left his City Council At-Large seat to run for mayor in 2009, will be back as an at-large councillor next year after an unsuccessful attempt to regain his seat in 2011. Four councillors gave up their seats to run for mayor this year: District 5 Councillor Rob Consalvo, District 8 Councillor Michael Ross, and Councillors At-Large John Connolly and Felix Arroyo.

For the first time in years, the cell phones of the outgoing councillors likely will be quieter than usual during Thanksgiving, since they won’t be able to participate in the January vote. “This is the first holiday season in 14 years where the presidency will not be weighing on my mind,” Ross, a former president, said with a chuckle.

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