House seat hopeful Hunt formally launches campaign

By 
Jordan Frias, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 20, 2014

DanHunt, a candidate for 13th Suffolk state representative, spoke during a Saturday morning event at Phillips' Old Colony House. Photo courtesy Hunt campaign

Neponset’s Dan Hunt, one of several hopefuls vying to replace Marty Walsh in the state Legislature, kicked off his campaign on Saturday and grabbed the backing of a top elected official and neighborhood activists.

The Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association’s Phil Carver took to the podium at the Phillips Old Colony House to tout his support of Hunt. “I’m here for the Hunt family, because the Hunt family’s always been here for Dorchester, the city of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said.

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat, praised Hunt’s efforts as a government affairs director at the Department of Conservation and Recreation and his involvement in securing resources for projects like the cleaning of the Shaffer Paper site and the Neponset River Greenway trail.

Dorcena Forry referred to Hunt’s potential opponents as “good candidates,” and said Hunt is the right “Dorchester guy” for the job given his experience. “For the 13th Suffolk seat, we’re going to need someone who can get in there to be able to work on legislation, to be able to work on policy, but most importantly, to be able to work on the budget,” she said.

Dorcena Forry is married to Reporter editor Bill Forry.

The primary will be held on Tuesday, March 4, with the general election set for April 1. The district includes a precinct in North Quincy.

Other candidates who have pulled nomination papers include former City Council candidate John O’Toole, attorneys Liam Curran and PJ McCann, former reporter Gene Gorman, and Columbia Savin Hill civic association regular Bill Lynch Sr. The papers, with 150 signatures from voters, are due to local elections officials by Jan. 21.

Gorman, who teaches at Emerson College, sought to prevent the Clap School from closing, and worked on Mayor Walsh’s transition team. He held his kick-off on Jan. 15 at the Harp and Bard in Savin Hill. “Whether you are from Dorchester or the Dominican, whether you were born on Hallam Street or in Haiti, or whether you are from Neponset or, in my case, North Carolina, I am asking for your support,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity. An opportunity to unify this incredibly diverse district around a shared vision for progress and transformation.”

Curran’s kick-off is set for Jan. 30 at the Blarney Stone in Fields Corner.

In addition to Dorcena Forry, others in attendance at Hunt’s kick-off included former state Sen. Paul White, former Carney Hospital chief Bill Walczak, Quincy Councillor-at-Large Doug Gutro, members of the Quincy Committee, and Mike Lake, a candidate for lieutenant governor. About 250 people attended the kick-off.

Hunt family friend and campaign supporter Joe Hannigan, 53, sat at a table by the podium. A former resident of Bruce Street in Dorchester who now lives in Randolph, Hannigan said his mother and Hunt’s mother have been friends for years.

Hannigan, who had never heard Hunt give a public speech until the kickoff, calls the Hunts “the Kennedys of Dorchester.” His father is Jim Hunt Jr., the head of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and his brother, Jim Hunt III, served as Mayor Thomas Menino’s environment and energy chief.

Melville Park's Peter Sasso said he was also supporting Hunt. “It’s not about good versus bad, but it’s about good versus better, and Dan is a better candidate for us,” he said.

Hunt has hired Wes Ritchie, who worked for MassEquality and on Jeff Ross’s City Council bid last year, as his campaign manager.

At the kick-off, Hunt described how his decision to run for state representative began as a conversation at his kitchen table. “We decided that this was worth a shot. We had the pieces to put together to make this happen,” he said.

Hunt said he will work to connect people to state services, support small business, create local jobs, and protect workers’ rights if elected. “The historic election of Marty Walsh means great things for Dorchester, for Boston and its people, but it leaves a huge void for the voice of working families on Beacon Hill, and I want to be that voice,” he said.

News editor Gintautas Dumcius contributed to this report.