The field of candidates hoping to fill the city council's vacant second district seat widened considerably this week as the council was poised to finalize dates for a special election, with a preliminary to be held on April 17 and final election on May 15.
At least six people are considering a run for the open seat, which is centered in South Boston, but also includes sections of Chinatown, the South End and Dorchester's northernmost precincts above Columbia Road, a heavily residential area often referred to locally as the Polish Triangle. The field includes several formidable figures from the district's South Boston base, including men with close ties to Mayor Thomas Menino, and a South End woman who ran for the seat in 2005.
The seat became vacant on January 9 with the death of Councillor James M. Kelly, who passed away at the age of 66 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Ed Flynn, the son of former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, told the Reporter this week that he would enter the race.
"I will be a candidate for this election," said Flynn. "I'm looking forward to working hard and talking to people throughout the district."
Flynn is a Navy reservist and full-time substitute teacher. He ran for one of four at-large city council seats in 2005 as one of 14 candidates vying to grab the spot that opened when Maura Hennigan decided to run for mayor against Thomas Menino. In 2005 Flynn snuck past the preliminary election with an eighth place finish, and finished last in the November general.
Flynn, who is related to Kelly through marriage, said he would seek to carry on the councillor's legacy of constituent services, particularly quality of life issues like crime.
"We need more police on the street," he said.
Four South Boston men with close ties to City Hall were rumored as potential candidates: Michael Kineavy, the mayor's chief of policy and planning; Tom Tinlin, head of the city's transportation department; Bill Linehan, an assistant to the city's chief operating officer; and Joe Rull, who worked as the mayor's neighborhood liaison in South Boston for four years before joining MassPort in 2005 as a community representative.
Kineavy told the Reporter on Tuesday that he would not run.
"Anybody that has asked, I've told them that I'm not interested," he said. Kineavy, who is also Menino's main political operative, added that the race contains an added element of intrigue because it coincides with an existing council election year.
"It really is one long race. Even if you lose [in the special election], you can keep running," he said.
On Monday, Rull said that he was considering a run.
"I'm definitely considering it, and I'm still undecided as to whether I'm going to go for it. I'm talking to family and friends," he said.
Rull said he had not discussed the race with the mayor, but acknowledged that Menino's support could play a role in the race.
"I think working with the mayor is definitely important, and will be important to whoever ends up being the councillor. That person will need to work collective on South Boston, Dorchester, Chinatown community issues."
Linehan said Tuesday afternoon that he was also weighing a run, and that his decision depended similarly on input from family members and on official notice from the elections office.
"It's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm seriously considering it," said Linehan.
Tinlin did not return phone calls seeking comment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The field is likely to include at least two more South Boston men.
Bob O'Shea is a private consultant who specializes in development and a member of the Teamsters Local 82. He says he will run.
"My whole adult life has been devoted to civic activism in South Boston," said O'Shea.
He spoke specifically of issues facing Dorchester's slice of the district north of Columbia Road, such as traffic congestion near the rotary off of Day Boulevard and the resident parking program recently instituted at the desire of the McCormack Civic Association.
He served as the Big Dig's liaison to South Boston from 1997 to 2002. In 2002 he ran for the South Boston state Rep. seat that opened up when Jack Hart ran successfully for state Senate. He came in second of three candidates in that race, losing to Brian Wallace.
Another potential candidate is Brian Mahoney, who is nearing the end of a year term as 'mayor' of South Boston, a title parallel to Dorchester's honorary post that goes to the South Boston resident who raises the most money for the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Mahoney has worked as the Sextant at St. Vincent's church for 11 years, and also said that development, particularly along the South Boston waterfront, would be his top priority.
"It's like a blank canvas. We have a unique opportunity to shape a huge portion of the city," said Mahoney.
He said he will make a final decision on whether to enter the race over the weekend.
Beyond the district's South Boston base, South End resident Susan Passoni, who ran against Kelly unsuccessfully in 2005, said she is also considering a run.
"For someone who's run before I think every election should be treated with the same respect and consideration. I'm giving it very serious consideration," said Passoni.
If the council approved the election dates, aspiring candidates would have been able to visit the city's election department by today to collect an official calendar detailing the deadlines for filing papers and the necessary 200 unique and certifiable voter signatures.
The special election will be the first Boston election since Secretary of State William Galvin announced that his office was assuming oversight of Boston's elections department after more than 30 city precincts ran out of ballots on election night last November.
Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Galvin, said that the secretary's office would monitor the special election, but that it would have no impact on the process for voters.
President proposes term limit
Also on the council's Wednesday agenda was a vote to ratify a draft of rules to govern the city council in 2007 that included several changes recommended by City Council President Maureen Feeney.
Chief among those revisions is a two-year term limit for the council presidency; councillors who have held the post for two consecutive years could seek it again after a one-year hiatus.
The proposed rules also include changes to the structure of council committees, including the creation of a Youth Violence Prevention committee and the elimination of several existing committees.
At-large councillors file financial reports
At-Large city councillors were required to file financial reports with the Office of Campaign Politics and Finance by January 22, revealing an enormous gap in the war chests maintained by the four councillors. Fundraising juggernaut Michael Flaherty has almost half a million dollars in his account ($456,956.87). That's $400,000 more than the next highest total &endash; Sam Yoon has almost $57,000. Flahert's total is $200,000 more than even the mayor, who has about $232,000 in his account.
By contrast, Councillor Felix Arroyo has just $1,516.09 in his campaign fund &endash; a very low amount to hold at the beginning of an election year.
Councillor Steve Murphy was close behind Yoon at $50,000. Much of that money was raised in the last quarter of 2006, a sign that speculation about a Murphy move to the new administration of Governor Deval Patrick might be unfounded.
John Connolly, who ran for an at-large seat in 2005 and has already announced his candidacy for 2007, has started raising money again and has a balance of $36,000 in his account.
At-Large field adds one more
In addition to all four incumbent councillors and a hard-charging John Connolly, another aspiring fifth floor occupant has entered the 2007 at-large council race. Marty Hogan, a South Boston resident who ran in 2005 but failed to make it out of the primary, plans to officially announce his candidacy this week.