Turnout likely to be the key factor in District 5 race

A Haitian-American activist and a longtime city employee will battle on Nov. 5 for the District 5 seat that opened up after Rob Consalvo gave it up to run for mayor earlier this year.

The two candidates – Jean Claude Sanon and Tim McCarthy – beat out six others in the Sept. 24 preliminary. Sanon, who moved to Boston in 1975 after living in Haiti, ran for at-large council in 2009. McCarthy, who grew up in Hyde Park and works as a top assistant to Mayor Thomas Menino’s public works commissioner, is running for the first time.

The district was redrawn during the City Council’s redistricting efforts to include more of Mattapan, making the area favorable to a candidate of color. The district also includes parts of Hyde Park and Roslindale. But whether or not communities of color, including the large Haitian-American population in both Mattapan and Hyde Park, turn out on Election Day will determine if Sanon will get to fulfill his dream of serving on the City Council.

Ward 18 will likely play a crucial role in the election. According to the Sept. 24 election results released by the city’s Elections Department, McCarthy received 2,886 votes in the area, while Sanon garnered 2,568. Overall, there was a roughly 700-vote difference between the top two finishers across the district: McCarthy winning with 3,732 votes and Sanon picking up 3,055 of a total of 15,357 votes cast.

Fundraising will also prove key: Sanon entered the second half of October with $6,622 as an ending balance in his campaign finance account, after raising $2,895. In the same period, McCarthy raised $2,168, with an ending balance of $21,596.

Sanon was able to reel in several endorsements in the last few weeks: state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Haitian-American Democrat, former mayoral candidate John Barros, the Boston Globe’s editorial board, and SEIU 1199, a union that includes healthcare workers who live in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.

McCarthy touts support from the Haitian-American Political Action Committee, which is backed by Jacques Dady Jean, who has been active in local political races. He has also been endorsed by the Boston Herald. But he downplayed the impact of endorsements.

“It’s word of mouth, it’s a hand shake, it’s a door knock,” he said on Tuesday, a week before the election. “I think I have a solid base in those neighborhoods and people appreciate what I’ve done in those neighborhoods,” he added.

McCarthy worked for a variety of city departments, including neighborhood services and a summer jobs program, which he said has prepared him for the job of city councillor.

Sanon claims he has the wind at his back. He promoted the endorsements of former state Reps. Marie St. Fleur and Willie Mae Allen, a Democrat who used to represent Mattapan in the Legislature and whose daughter, Ava Callender, had run this year for the District 5 seat.

“We have momentum resonating with people out there,” Sanon said.