March 5, 2009
As about 200 supporters chowed down on Singapore rice noodles and boneless spare ribs, City Councillor At-Large Sam Yoon formally kicked off his mayoral run Tuesday night.
In his speech to supporters, Yoon made little mention of the 15-year incumbent, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, instead charging that the power in city politics has been concentrated in the hands of the "chosen few." He pledged to "change Boston politics forever."
Speaking with reporters after his speech, Yoon had sharper words for Menino and said a debate between Menino, who has not officially announced that he's running for another term, is "absolutely necessary."
"I like him, too," Yoon said of Menino, before saying that the long-time mayor's style was "outmoded." It belongs to another century and it's time to move on," he added, stating that the City Council needs more power, since the mayor controls "absolutely everything."
Fellow City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty has also announced he will take a run at knocking Menino out of the City Hall, as has Kevin McCrea, a South End businessman.
Supporters, including neighborhood activists and staffers from City Hall and the State House but few boldface names, milled around tables in the low-lit dining room of Chau Chow restaurant on Morrissey Boulevard before Yoon got up to speak.
"We don't have a problem with Menino," said Toan Vinh Than, head of the Vietnamese Small Business Association, while sitting at a table with his association members.
Than, who owns an auto body shop in Dorchester, said Menino should step aside to let a younger generation take over. "Menino, he's been effective. It's time for a change."
Anthony Robinson, president and CEO of Youth in Crisis Ministries, said he felt it was his "civic duty" to support Yoon. "It's time for a change," he said, echoing other supporters other supporters like Than.
He added, of Menino, "I can't say he's been doing anything wrong."
Taking a page from President Barack Obama's campaign, Yoon said he was a "community organizer" and a "tall and skinny" Asian-American. On the campaign trail, Obama also highlighted his background as community organizer and poked fun at his own lanky frame.
Yoon asked supporters to help him raise money for the race, despite the downturn in the economy.
"We need to have money to get our message out," he said. "That is an absolute truth."
Yoon told the Reporter he would run a positive campaign.
"The political stuff comes with the territory," he said. "The dime-dropping and the negative stuff. But it's not the stuff that matters."