Dates set on vote for Henriquez seat in House: April 1 primary; candidate from Fields Corner steps up

Just days after ejecting former state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, House lawmakers quickly set dates for the elections process to replace the Dorchester Democrat. The special election will take place on April 29, although the Democratic make-up of the district will put the spotlight on the determinative April 1 primary.

The winner of the special election will be up for reelection in the fall.

Henriquez, who was elected to the Fifth Suffolk District in 2010 and is serving six months in jail after being found guilty of two counts of assault and battery on a woman in a case that arose in July 2012, was removed from his House seat last week by a 146 to 5 vote.

According to state Rep. Russell Holmes, Henriquez is interested in running for the seat again. If he is able to run from jail, and does, he will face competition. An attorney with roots in Cape Verde said this week that he will be a candidate in the Democratic primary. Evandro Carvalho, who lives in Fields Corner with his fiancé, Ashley Lawson, emigrated from Cape Verde at age 15.

 “I came to Boston speaking no English and my mother worked three jobs to support my siblings and I,” Carvalho said in a statement. “Through hard work, and the opportunities provided to me through bilingual education, technical vocational school and after-school college prep programs, I was able to get into college and eventually graduate from law school.  I want to help strengthen our communities by ensuring that every resident has the opportunities they need to build a quality life: access to jobs with decent wages to support a family; affordable housing options and financial assistance to help our residents buy homes in our community; and a quality education for every child that gives them their best chance to succeed.”

 Carvalho is a board member for Teen Empowerment and volunteers for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance. His resume includes a stint as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Carvalho already has at least one endorser lined up: Wayne Budd, the former US attorney and former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, who said in a statement that Carvalho is “one of the most passionate and experienced young leaders coming up in our community.”

At least two other people, both from Meetinghouse Hill, are mulling candidacies: Karen Charles, chief of staff at the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable, and Jennifer Johnson, an environmental activist. Althea Garrison, a frequent candidate for public office, is expected to mount another run.

Charles told the Reporter that she was “closer to yes” and planned to open a campaign finance account in the coming days. She has pulled nomination papers, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Johnson opened one on Monday, though she said she is “still exploring” a run. “I would like to be in a role to help the district,” she said.
Originally from Louisiana, Johnson has lived in Dorchester since 2006. She has worked with the Dorchester Arts Collaborative, Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets program, and on Felix G. Arroyo’s mayoral campaign last year. She is also a member of the Ward 15 Democratic Committee, and a former co-chair, Judy Meredith, is chairing her campaign committee.
Nomination papers for the special election are currently available at Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. They are due, with at least 150 signatures, to the Boston Elections Commission on or before Feb. 24.

On the vote to expel Henriquez, eleven members of Boston’s 14-member House delegation voted yes, two lawmakers voted no, and one voted present.

Pointing to the House Ethics Committee’s recommendation to remove Henriquez, Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement that the panel had reviewed 11 police reports, 78 exhibits, and almost 1,000 pages of trial testimony, and “found that a representative could not serve as a member while incarcerated in jail after being convicted of two charges of a serious nature.”

But Rep. Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat who is close to Henriquez, argued that his colleagues should vote instead to censure Henriquez, Holmes’s proposal for censure failed by a 143-10 vote.

Henriquez is serving six months of a 30-month sentence at the Middlesex County House of Correction. In the interim between the incident in 2012 and the trial last month, Henriquez coasted to reelection last fall.

Boston Democrats who joined the majority in expelling Henriquez included state Reps. Byron Rushing of the South End, Ed Coppinger of West Roxbury, Dan Cullinane of Dorchester, Carlo Basile of East Boston, Nick Collins of South Boston, Kevin Honan of Brighton, Jay Livingstone of Back Bay, Elizabeth Malia of Jamaica Plain, Michael Moran of Brighton, Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, and Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain. Reps. Gloria Fox of Roxbury and Holmes voted no, and Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park was recorded as “not voting,” or present.

The vote came after Henriquez had addressed House members and maintained his innocence. He said he considers domestic violence a “cowardly and shameful act” and the jury’s verdict “does not change my truth.”

But state Rep. David Nangle, a Lowell Democrat and vice chair of the House Ethics Committee, said pictures of the victim’s bruises from that night in July were available for House members to see. “It was mortifying when I saw the pictures,” he told his colleagues.

After the vote, Cullinane called it a “difficult and sad day” for the House and a “terrible and emotional ordeal” for all involved. “I cannot speak to what happened on that night, nor am I in a position to judge Rep. Henriquez’s guilt or innocence,” he said, “but the facts are the facts – the jury has spoken, he has been convicted, and a sentence has been handed down by the judge. And while Rep. Henriquez is appealing his conviction, during the appeals process he will remain in prison unable to perform the responsibilities he was elected and entrusted to perform as a member of the House of Representatives. This was an unpleasant decision and one I did not arrive at lightly.”

Cullinane called domestic violence “truly appalling and whether physical, emotional, or psychological – it should never be accepted or tolerated.”

Henriquez’s lawyer, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, lit into House lawmakers during the debate while she was outside the House chamber. She said the House had made itself the “judge and jury of morality and ethics,” and its move “opens up anybody for expulsion.” Henriquez was acquitted of three of the five charges, she added, and he did not violate any House rules as she interpreted them.