By Pete Stidman
Although some say it's a bit early to talk about
Boston City Council election 2009 - particularly
with several of this year's state races underway -
many, including a handful of political junkies,
city hall staffers and the Reporter, just can't
Mayor Thomas Menino's "mayor for life" stance
notwithstanding, ticket-topping Councillor at-Large
Michael Flaherty is coiling the springs ever
tighter for a leap at the throne. Sitting on a
chunky and fast-growing bank account, Flaherty this
week leveraged the fire department's pumped-up
pension woes to call for enhanced software he
claims would nab would-be schemers before the
Such a head-on mayoral challenge by Flaherty
would leave an at-large seat wide open.
Considering the two-year term limit on the
council presidency that could end President Maureen
Feeney's reign, the under-representation of women
and people of color on the council, and the
concurrent mayor's race, it could make for a far
more interesting contest than 2007's low-turnout
The first name to slip off many wags' tongues is
the son of former Councillor Felix D. Arroyo, Felix
G. Arroyo (and don't call him jr.). Arroyo the
younger confirms he is carefully considering a
Just over a week from now, he's getting married
to a teacher from Boston Public Schools, so it
wasn't the first thing on his mind when the
"I'm inclined to [run], I'll tell you
that, but there's a lot that has to happen," said
the groom-to-be in a phone interview this week.
"Talking with the family for one thing,
particularly the new wife."
Arroyo is working his last day as political
director for the Service Employees and Industrial
Union Local 615 tomorrow in order to start a new
position as field director for a universal health
care campaign for Northeast Action, a progressive
political action organization.
Many around the city see an opportunity on the
council for a Latino candidate in the wake of Felix
D.'s departure in 2007, when freshman Councillor
John Connolly knocked him out of the top four, but
Felix G. Arroyo, sounding very much like a
candidate, rejects that label as well.
"I think Boston is at a place right now where
that could happen. People could say that I'm Irish,
I'm Latino, I'm Asian, whatever, but I'm a
Bostonian," said Arroyo, pointing to state Reps.
Marty Walsh and Linda Dorcena Forry as examples of
pols that have appeal in communities well beyond
those that reflect their immigrant roots.
Yet Arroyo and several other potential political
candidates widely known to fishing the waters for
support - such as Tomas Gonzalez, a community
relations man at BU Medical Center and former
Latino Liaison for Mayor Thomas Menino; David
Halbert, a community relations man in Councillor
Sam Yoon's office; and Jean-Claude Sanon, the WNGN
1550 AM radio talk show host who has already
begun his campaign&emdash;all taught, took, or
were affiliated with classes at the Initiative for
Diversity in Civic Leadership, a program run by
Oiste!, a Latino political organization.
"We want to make sure people of color have
representation in government, especially in a city
like Boston that's over 50 percent people of
color," said Oiste! director Giovanni Negretti,
whose name is also bandied about as a potential
candidate each year (not running this time, she
said). "The common excuse is we can't find anyone
to run. So that can no longer be used, because we
are training people."
Every year the program trains around 30 for
lives of public service, whether as elected
officials, campaign workers or appointees in
government positions. According to Sanon, it
wouldn't be too surprising if a crew of the younger
hopefuls joined forces.
"Several of us sat around a table last year,"
said Sanon. "We were thinking about whether or not
we should combine our efforts."
That conversation trailed off, said Sanon, but
it's possible it could pick up again. Meanwhile,
he's been visiting churches, marching in parades,
fundraising, and walking the streets with Pastor
Bruce Wall, among other campaigning activities.
Incidentally, Pastor Wall has decided not to
run, for those who heard that rumor.
"I was considering a citywide run and after a
thorough and intense conversation in our family, I
have decided to put all my eggs in the radio
basket," he said this week. "Our family just needs
Gonzalez, 37, is a standout in the crowd and a
good match against Arroyo for the Latino vote. He
was a teacher in the Oiste! program, and has deep
roots in the political community. Having worked on
Menino's, Deval Patrick's and now Dianne
Wilkerson's campaigns, he has a solid understanding
of the political game.
Arroyo too was a contributor to the institute,
whereas Sanon and Halbert were students.
Halbert did not return phone calls for this
article, and Gonzalez declined comment.
The only other candidate in the field,
Republican Nantucket-transplant Doug
Bennett, is on a mission to bust his knuckles
that recalls the early campaigns of Rob
"My goal is to knock on 100,000 houses by
September 2009," he said in phone interview on
Monday. "Already I've been to 12,000. I'm just
moving at a ferocious pace."
Bennett said he has begun fundraising as well,
and his Office of Campaign and Political Finance
report accounts for just over $3000 in his campaign
coffers, while Sanon holds a more modest $135,
By contrast the incumbent at-Large councillors
are holding between $3,700 and $17,000 at last
report in Mid-July, save of course Flaherty, who
has amassed $128,357.74 in his main account, and
two additional savings accounts recorded at year
end 2007 would boost the total to over $450,000.
Menino's war chest hulks at nearly a cool $1
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