In the city election’s most crowded contest, 13 candidates are presently vying to win voter’s support to become the next District 7 city councillor. With the Sept. 26 run-off election less than four weeks away— and only a few days until the deadline to register to vote closes on Sept. 6— it will be up to the voters to narrow the field to two finalists who will face off on the November ballot.
A summer spent actively campaigning and fundraising to fill Councillor Tito Jackson’s seat to represent all of Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway has left four candidates with more than $10,000 to spend in the final days leading up to the primary, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Dorchester resident Joao Gomes Depina has just over $10,000 and Hassan A. Williams, has $13,480 to spend. Since the beginning of June alone, Deeqo Jibril has managed to raise $13,769, leaving her campaign with $21,704 to spend, according to the most recent financial filing period which closed August 15.
Fundraising aside, Jibril said she has made it a priority in her campaign to register as many first-time voters as possible.
“Everybody has to vote for the first time at some point, so it might as well be in this primary,” Jibril said. “I was born in a country where we didn’t have the privilege to vote,” said Jibril, who came to Boston as a Somali refugee when she was 12. “When I started I had no name recognition, but I didn’t let that discourage me.”
Jibril said she understands the needs of the district because she has worked in the community for years, advocating on behalf of families for ABCD Housing and Roxbury Children Services and founding six local businesses.
If elected, Jibril hopes to open an office in the community, similar to the one District 4 Councillor Andrea Campbell opened in Fields Corner last April, and use it to advocate for the immigrant community in the city, particularly the growing Somali population.
Angelina “Angie” Magdalena Camacho and Domonique A. Williams both said that their modest bank accounts, $1,894 and $780 respectively, speak to their morals as candidates.
“Money is the traditional way of doing things, but that’s not what my campaign is about,” said Camacho, who recently took a high-profile role in organizing a massive march and rally in Boston after the events in Charlottesville.
“I thought as a citizen first. I don’t hesitate to stand up for our community,” and that is what makes her unique, Camacho said. She uses her passion as a mother with a child in the Boston Public School system to connect with voters not only in her district, but across the city, she said.
Domonique Williams, at 32, is the youngest in the race and one of two “Williams” on the ballot, along with Hassan A. Williams. She said that her resume both speaks for itself and helps differentiate her from the pack. A graduate of Winston-Salem State University and Howard University School, she has worked the Boston Office of Fair Housing, the Attorney General’s Office, and the FAA.
Williams said she would like to open a district office to be able to better provide constituent services directly in the neighborhood, like the one that used to be in Dudley Station where she got her started her career in activism as a volunteer in 2001.
In terms of fundraising, she said, “Anyone or any organization I do accept money from is aligned with my goals, specifically around affordable housing in the district,” Williams said.
By contrast, Kim Janey is quick to point out that she has had the most money since the beginning of the campaign. She now has $30,343.
“There are people who appreciate the work that I’ve done thus far, and I’m very proud of the money that I’ve raised,” Janey said. Janey has made a name for herself through her years of community activism and work with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, Boston NAACP, and MassVOTE, which she helped to found, among a number of other organizations.
“As someone who has devoted their entire life to community organizing, I am committed to making sure that we are all engaged in a way that moves us forward,” Janey said.
Carlos Tony Henriquez, 40, is another notable name in the race, having served as a state representative for Roxbury and parts of Dorchester for two terms until his expulsion in 2014. Henriquez has vigorously maintained his innocence in a related 2013 assault case that resulted in a six-month jail sentence, which resulted in his removal from the House of Representatives.
In an interview on BNN-TV this month, Henriquez said that education, housing and public safety were the three most pressing issues in the district.
Henriquez has been pushing for neighbors in the district to help patrol and offer programming for young people in city parks. Henriquez launched a kickball program this summer to encourage adults to “be present” and engage young residents.
“Now parents are meeting their next door neighbor for the first time- it’s a community building thing,” he said.
Brian Keith, who grew up in Dorchester’s St. Mark’s Parish and moved to Roxbury four years ago, said he has been able to differentiate himself from the exceptionally crowded field of community organizers and activists— of which he is not.
“I don’t come in with an ingrained bias, I’m able to look at things with a fresh perspective,” Keith said. As a city councillor, Keith would like to use that seat to combat the opioid crisis. That stance earned him the endorsement of Boston Fire Local 718 IAFF.
Keith, who has only $2,476 to spend, said that he was been “running a lean and efficient campaign from the beginning.”
The first-time candidate, who serves as the president of the Mojnt Pleasant Avenue, Vine and Forest Street Neighborhood Association, sees himself as a fresh set of eyes and a catalyst for compromise in the district, particularly in being open to discussions between developers and the community. Keith currently works as vice president for sales at Skyjet.
DePina, an anti-violence activist, told BNN-TV that he is focused on affordable housing and “maximizing development, but minimizing displacement.”
“Mental health is my baby,” DePina said. “It’s something I’ve dealt with throughout my life…the effects of PTSD and self-medication… which has being to the death of a lot of people in our community.”
Also on the ballot are Roy Owens, Rufus J. Faulk, Steven A. Wise, Jose Lopez, and Charles Clemons Muhammad.
Boston Neighborhood Network has posted brief interviews with each of the candidates for District 7. The may be viewed online at bnntv.org/vod/race-city-hall.