State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry coasted to a win on Tuesday in a special election to fill a vacancy in the state Senate’s First Suffolk District. The Dorchester Democrat defeated Joseph Ureneck, a Dorchester Republican, on an Election Day that was marked by low turnout in the district, which includes Dorchester, South Boston, Mattapan, and a portion of Hyde Park.
According to the unofficial tally of all 77 precincts on the city’s Elections Department’s website, Dorcena Forry piled up 7,858 votes, or just under 82 percent of the total, while Ureneck picked up 1,486 votes. There were 274 write-in ballots.
She declared victory at her Election Night party at the Ledge restaurant in Lower Mills where family, friends, and supporters packed the venue's function room and spilled out onto the adjacent patio. After greeting and thanking supporters, Dorcena Forry took the microphone and pledged to be open to all constituents when serving as their senator.
"I want you to know I am going to work hard because I am from a lineage of hard workers," she said while flanked by her parents, Andre and Annie Dorcena, and her 99-year-old grandmother, Marianne Mathurin.
Dorcena Forry said that while her various constituents may not agree with her on every issue, she will be an active listener and will bring viewpoints to the table to make common sense solutions.
"I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tonight is a shared victory and I want to thank everyone who played a part," she said, citing her labor supporters for helping to organize the campaign and donors for helping her build what she called the "best financed" campaign of the election.
The senator-elect was accompanied to the front of the room by her son Conor, who stayed close to his mother, bashfully hiding behind her for most of her speech.
Dorcena Forry gave a shout-out to the 12th Suffolk District voters who have been her constituents since 2005 when she entered the Legislature as a representative.
"I will now carry our work to the state Senate and I cannot wait to get started," she said.
For his part, Ureneck held his Election Night party at the Blarney Stone in Fields Corner. “It was quite a funereal event,” he quipped during a phone interview the next morning. He said he hoped Dorcena Forry would take a look at some of the fathers’ rights issues he concentrated on during the campaign.
“I hope she’ll take them to heart and take a look at it and either get rid of these laws or seriously revise them,” he said, referring to statutes dealing with domestic violence.
Ureneck said he would have fared better in the election if the turnout in South Boston had been higher and more people had been aware of the election. “Many people came by the polls and said they didn’t know there was an election,” he said.
Dorcena Forry’s easy victory came a month after she won a three-way Democratic primary by some 370 votes. Two South Boston Democrats, state Rep. Nick Collins and blogger Maureen Dahill, came in second and third, respectively. Ureneck ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
Dorcena Forry, a Lower Mills resident, will become the first Haitian-American to serve in the state Senate and the first woman to represent the district. She was elected to the state House of Representatives in a 2005 special election to replace Rep. Thomas Finneran, a Mattapan Democrat and the speaker of the House. The mother of four (two boys and two girls), she is married to Reporter publisher and editor Bill Forry.
Dorcena Forry's ascension to the state Senate, where she will be replacing Jack Hart, a South Boston Democrat who left the upper body earlier this year to take a job with a law firm, means another special election will have to be scheduled, this one to fill her 12th Suffolk House seat.
Four names are already circulating: Dan Cullinane, a former City Hall and State House aide from the Cedar Grove neighborhood; Stephanie Everett, a former aide to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; Mary Tuitt, an aide to state Rep. Gloria Fox; and Carlotta Williams of Hyde Park.