If Henriquez seat opens up, state official says she'll take a look

NOTE: A correction has been appended to this story.

As convicted state Rep. Carlos Henriquez faces pressure from the governor and mayor to resign, a state official is mulling a run for his seat.

Karen Charles, currently the chief of staff to the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable, is a Dorchester Democrat and lives on Meetinghouse Hill. She previously served as chief of staff at the MBTA. She has also worked in the late Councillor Bruce Bolling's office.

"For me, it's about serving my community," she said.

Charles said Wednesday she would consider running if the seat opened up. Asked whether she thought Henriquez should resign, Charles said it is Henriquez's personal decision to make. "He was judged by a jury of peers," she said.

Charles grew up on Olney Street. Her husband is Kevin Peterson, a local activist who worked on former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie's mayoral campaign.

Local activists floated Charles's name in 2010, when Uphams Corner's Marie St. Fleur stepped down after just over a decade in the job. But Charles, then at the MBTA, said she was focused on her day job.

Henriquez, who had run unsuccessfully against City Councillor Chuck Turner, eventually jumped into the race and narrowly beat fellow Democrat Barry Lawton in a September primary.

The Fifth Suffolk House District includes Uphams Corner, Bowdoin Geneva, Grove Hall and part of Roxbury and Fields Corner.

Members of the Ward 15 Democratic Committee, a group that holds significant sway in the district, were incensed when they heard about the charges against Rep. Henriquez in 2012, but ultimately decided to let the judicial process play out. Henriquez denied allegations that he struck a young woman, Katherine Gonzalves, in July 2012.

Henriquez was up for reelection later that year, beating two write-ins: perennial candidate Althea Garrison and Nanci Conklin Lawton, who was in the process of divorcing Barry Lawton. Henriquez picked up 1,346 votes, while Garrison received 63 votes and Lawton received 40 votes. Garrison ran again in the general election, but only received 2,564 votes to Henriquez's 9,179 votes.

On Wednesday, a six-person jury found Henriquez guilty of two counts of assault and battery. A judge sentenced him to two and a half years, with six to be served, according to the State House News Service. His attorney told reporters they plan to appeal.

Hours after the verdict, Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh issued statements calling on Henriquez to resign. House Speaker Robert DeLeo also said Henriquez should step down from his seat.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.

CORRECTION: Due to incorrect information provided to the Reporter, Charles was described as a former staffer to state Rep. Byron Rushing. She actually worked in Councillor Bolling's office.