Reporter's Notebook: Candidates sell wares, Cedar Grove folks listen

The five Democrats on the ballot for the 13th Suffolk House seat pitched their candidacies on Tuesday night at a mini-forum held during a Cedar Grove Civic Association meeting in the basement of St. Brendan’s Church. The contenders also fielded questions on upping the minimum wage from the current state minimum of $8 an hour and on whether or not they plan to consider the job of Dorchester state representative a full-time position.

All five – Liam Curran, Dan Hunt, Gene Gorman, PJ McCann, and John O’Toole – said they support an increase in the minimum wage, a legislative issue that will likely come up sometime after the winner of this special election to replace Marty Walsh is sworn into office. The Democratic primary is March 4, with the general election set for April 1.

Tony Dang, a Vietnamese-American activist running as a write-in candidate, left the door open last week to dropping out and endorsing one of the five on the ballot. “We have to be realistic,” he said, after speaking to Ward 15 Democrats at their caucus on Saturday. Dang did not make an appearance at Tuesday night’s meeting, but several dozen local residents did.

Gorman, a former reporter who is a lecturer at Emerson College, said he would give up the job if he won the election. Hunt, who left his job at the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation four weeks ago to run for office, said he also plans to make the job of state representative a full-time one. McCann and Curran answered the same, and O’Toole said he would give the job “110 percent of my time and effort.”

During part of his tenure in office on Beacon Hill, Walsh also worked as a union leader in the building trades.

The candidates also highlighted what they said were their qualifications for the job. Curran said he once served in Walsh’s office as an aide.

“I have first-hand knowledge of what it takes to do the job,” he said. McCann said as a law student, he worked with Mayor Thomas Menino’s foreclosure intervention team during the height of the foreclosure crisis in 2008, helping to research deeds and closing the city’s purchase of some of the properties.

Gorman said he started a neighborhood watch a year after he moved into Savin Hill, and focused on improving the neighborhood after he heard a barrage of gunfire outside his home.

Hunt said he was able to help build a coalition of support for funding the clean-up of a park in Port Norfolk. “I’m proud of the small role that I had,” he said. O’Toole, who once served as head of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, said he once challenged the placement of a Pep Boys shop in the neighborhood, and helped get the neighborhood a park instead. “You become a little City Hall of sorts” as head of a civic group, he said.

AFL-CIO’s Sullivan taking job in Walsh administration

Tim Sullivan, legislative and communications director for the state’s AFL-CIO organization, will be joining Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration as chief of staff for intergovernmental relations and senior adviser for external affairs. The union was a top backer of Walsh during last year’s mayoral race.

Sullivan, 34, is a Dorchester resident who grew up in Hanover and studied at UMass Amherst. He has worked for the AFL-CIO for ten years. In 2011, he briefly mounted a bid to become the union’s president, before dropping out and endorsing the eventual winner, Steve Tolman.

Ad that never aired wins award for John Connolly

A kid forgets his lunch, and his mother runs out to give it to him as the school bus pulls away. Then John Connolly, mayoral candidate, appears. “I got this,” he says, and starts to chase the bus through the neighborhood as a narrator highlights his record on schools.

The ad, titled “I Got This,” never aired on television. But it received the “Best Ad That Never Saw the Light of Day” honor at the 2014 Reed Awards in Washington, D.C., last weekend.

A former campaign aide described the ad on background to the Reporter.

Adelstein Liston was the firm behind the ad, which aimed to show Connolly’s willingness to go above and beyond to fix the city’s schools. Connolly, an attorney and former teacher, chaired the City Council’s Education Committee while he was an at-large councillor.
The firm’s other clients have included US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem), the American Federation of Teachers, and EMILY’s List.

Connolly unsuccessfully faced off against then-state Rep. Marty Walsh in the general election.

Dorcena Forry and Salem mayor sign onto Tolman AG campaign

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll will co-chair Warren Tolman’s campaign for attorney general, Tolman’s camp said Monday. “I’m proud to support Warren Tolman because he’s dedicated to fighting for Massachusetts residents,” Dorcena Forry said in a statement. “There is no better leader to protect families facing foreclosure, reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods, and be a voice for seniors, women and communities of color than Warren Tolman.”

Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat, was elected to the state Senate last year after serving several terms in the state House of Representatives. Her district includes Dorchester, South Boston, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. Driscoll has been the mayor of Salem since 2006.

Tolman is currently facing Maura Healey, the former assistant attorney general, in the race for attorney general, a position that Martha Coakley is giving up to run for governor. State Rep. Hank Naughton, a Clinton Democrat, dropped out of the campaign on Saturday and is running for reelection.

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