Yancey’s double run lures three to focus on his Council seat

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Jul. 3, 2013

Steven Godfrey: Non-profit leader from Roslindale is one of three challengers.Steven Godfrey: Non-profit leader from Roslindale is one of three challengers.Voters in parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roslindale will likely be seeing double when they pull their ballots at polling stations this fall: District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey is mounting a campaign for reelection while also tossing his hat into the multi-candidate race for the mayoral seat left open when his longtime sparring partner, Mayor Thomas Menino, announced he wouldn’t be seeking a sixth term.

According to the Election Department, Yancey has picked up enough signatures to qualify for both offices. He is allowed to run for the two positions simultaneously, but if he wins both, he will be restricted to serving in one or the other.

But Yancey’s double bid – and the City Council’s redrawing of district boundaries across the city – has led three challengers to eye the District 4 seat Yancey has held since 1983. And none of the three is keen on Yancey running for both.

A preliminary is set for Sept. 24. The top two votegetters will face off on Nov. 5.

Steven Godfrey, the executive director of a nonprofit based in Lynn, jumped into the race in March, when Yancey was still deciding which office to run for. Godfrey’s city councillor had been Rob Consalvo, who represented District 5 and is giving up his seat to run for mayor this year. But a majority of city councillors – against Yancey’s wishes – voted to shift around voting precincts last fall, and pushed Godfrey’s Roslindale precinct into District 4. Yancey, who lives on Hooper Street in Dorchester, lost four precincts in Mattapan and picked up five new ones in Dorchester.

“I’m getting out, knocking on doors, targeting new parts of the district,” Godfrey, 43, said on Tuesday. He plans to hold a campaign kick-off next Wednesday, July 10, at 500 Morton St. He is also working with several organizations in the hopes of putting together several candidate forums.

“For me, it’s important to have public discourse so people can choose who they want for higher office,” he said.

Two candidates from Dorchester are also hoping to topple Yancey from the District 4 seat: Divo Rodrigues Monteiro of Capen Street and Terrance Williams of Rosseter Street.

Monteiro ran for state representative in 2010, when Willie Mae Allen opted to retire. In the five-way Democratic primary that followed, Monteiro came in last with 78 votes. The winner, current state Rep. Russell Holmes, received 910 votes out of 2,465 votes cast.

“This time I’m starting early,” Monteiro, 45, said. “I believe I’m ready.” A Cape Verde native who came to the US at the age of 22, he works as a mortgage loan originator. “I want to represent my community,” he said. “I’m running because I believe now is the right time to elect the first Cape Verdean American for Boston City Council, for us to have our own voice in City Hall.”

Williams, 44, worked at Boston Water and Sewer for 25 years and also as a civil processor, serving summonses at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, for almost 8 years.

All three challengers questioned Yancey’s run for both City Council and the mayor’s office.

“I think he should only be running for one office,” Williams said. “Where is your heart? Your heart should be in the office you’re running for. If you’re running for mayor, focus on the mayor’s office. Don’t take voters for granted by saying ‘I’m running for both.’”

Monteiro noted that City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo is one of several officeholders giving up their seat to run for mayor. He also took a shot at Yancey’s 30 years on the council, which Yancey is touting as an asset as he runs for mayor. “You cannot stay in politics for so long, because you need to bring new ideas, new blood, new energy,” Monteiro said.

Godfrey said Yancey’s two-pronged campaign doesn’t look like a “viable option” and cited costs as one issue to consider. Noting that if Yancey makes it to November and wins both offices, he would have to choose which one he can serve in, per the city charter, and assuming he chooses the mayor’s office, that would leave the District 4 seat vacant and likely prompt a special election.

“As a voter, not necessarily as a candidate, I would have a problem with that,” Godfrey said. “I think we have to be extremely cautious about what we charge to the taxpayers.”

Yancey declined to make himself available for comment. But he has defended his double bid, frequently comparing his situation to that of Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin who last year ran for reelection while he was also the candidate for vice president on the Republican ticket with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The Republican ticket lost and Ryan returned to Congress from his hometown of Janesville.

Yancey has beaten back past District 4 challengers, most notably Ego Ezedi, a young Baptist minister who had the backing of establishment figures like then-City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty. Yancey, who was 54 years old at the time, came out on top in that 2003 election, winning by 689 votes.

“Make no mistake about it,” Yancey told the crowd that gathered at the Unity Sports and Cultural Center in Codman Square on that November night. “People thought that I was under attack and thought the community was under attack, and they responded.”