Political Round-up: Mattapan’s Allen challenges Cullinane in Sept. primary

By 
Lauren Dezenski, Reporter Staff
Jul. 24, 2014

Corey J. AllenCorey J. AllenCorey J. Allen, a mainstay in the Mattapan and Dorchester neighborhood for years, is challenging Rep. Daniel Cullinane in the Democratic primary on Sept. 9 and trying hard to let people know that he’s running.

“A lot of people in the neighborhood know me as “Coach Allen” or “Mr. Allen. “When they see the campaign signs with ‘Corey J. Allen,’ they don’t even realize it’s me that’s running.” To help make that connection, Allen is rolling out a series of lawn signs that feature his headshot.

Unlike the three other candidates in the race, Allen’s bid is his first for public office. He had considered last September’s special election for the 12th Suffolk seat vacated by Linda Dorcena Forry after she moved to the State Senate, but in the end he stayed with City Councillor Rob Consalvo’s mayoral campaign until the November election.

The former teacher and journalist has been running a true grassroots campaign, relying on the network he has established in his years spent in the classroom, in journalism, and in community activism, where he has been a coach for the Mattapan Patriots, a youth representative for the Mattapan ABCD, and a teacher and dean at Tech Boston Academy. Allen also did freelance work for the Mattapan Reporter, the Dorchester Reporter’s sister paper, during the summer of 2011, as well as for ESPNBoston.com. A Mattapan native, he graduated from Boston Latin Academy in 2001 and earned his bachelor’s degree at UMass Boston in 2008.

“It’s not a job, it’s a relationship. It’s a lifestyle,” Allen said. “I’ve always had neighborhood growth and development in mind, it’s just been a question of what realm.” On the campaign trail, Allen has championed three planks that he hopes to use as his platform if elected to the House: public safety, a green economy initiative, and creating a kindergarten-to-career pipeline. He’s also not worried about meshing with Dorchester’s other electeds.

“I already have a relationship with the officials in the area from my school or volunteer basis. It’s who I’ve been,” he said. “I’ve had a stable tenure in community development. People in the ivory tower may not notice me, but if they come down from the tower, they do.”

While Allen would not outright take aim at incumbent Cullinane, who has nabbed endorsements hand-over-fist from a high profile slate including Mayor Martin Walsh, the AFL-CIO, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Congressman Mike Capuano, and, most recently, state Sen. Brian Joyce of Milton, he is skeptical that such endorsements will swing votes.

“The community has seen people who run for convenience and win, not those who are running at the urging of the community,” Allen said, adding that a number of people in the community feel they are not being represented by unions, so a union-backed candidate such as Cullinane means little to them. That being said, he added, “I have to earn the vote of the people. This isn’t due to me; I have to earn it.”

Over the next 50 or so days until the primary, Allen said he plans to continue to knock on doors in all corners of the 12th Suffolk, which comprises Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Milton while also attending community events such as this month’s Steven P. Odom Serenity Garden dedication and reminding people that he’s actually running for office.

In addition to incumbent Cullinane, Allen faces Carlotta M. Williams and Ruthella J. Legan-Cruz in the primary. “People tell me they’ll vote for me in November,” Allen said with a laugh. “And I say, ‘That’s great! But the vote that matters is on September 9, and if you wait until November to vote for me, I’m not going to be on the ballot.’”

•••

State Treasurer Steve Grossman rolled back into Dorchester on Monday for the first time since the Dot Day Parade. This time, he unveiled his first TV advertisement, a 30-second spot now being broadcast throughout the Boston media market on broadcast and cable channels. Grossman premiered the ad on Monday at Ester on Dorchester Avenue at Ester, where a small crowd of mostly media and campaign volunteers had gathered in addition to Suffolk County Sheriff Steven F. Tompkins and Ester owner Eleanor Arpino.

The restaurant, which opened in April, was one of the small businesses in the state that benefited from the Small Business Banking Partnership, a program Grossman established that moved $360 million into 54 community banks, which, in turn made 8,000 loans worth $1 billion to small businesses, the Grossman campaign said.

The ad touts Grossman’s job-creation record and frames the primary race as a choice between “a proven jobs creator” and a “career prosecutor,” an allusion to Attorney General Coakley. After the screening, Grossman, a self-professed ice cream aficionado, invited those gathered to nearby Ice Creamsmith, where the candidate mingled with the crowd before getting a scoop for himself.

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