Feeney leans toward a final run for District Three seat

City Councillor Maureen FeeneyCity Councillor Maureen FeeneyDorchester City Councillor Maureen Feeney will make a decision on whether to run for another term after the holidays, she said this week.

First elected to the District Three seat in 1993, Feeney said she is leaning towards another run.

“As of right now, I am,” she told the Reporter. But she added that if she runs and wins re-election next year, when district councillors and city councillors at-large are up for re-election, she will not be mounting a campaign in 2013.

Feeney, who has handily won re-election in the past few election cycles, succeeded Councillor James Byrne and had previously served as his chief of staff.

District Four’s Charles Yancey, who also represents parts of Dorchester and was first elected in 1983, said this week he is planning on running for re-election. He is also waging a bid for the City Council presidency, a ceremonial post that helps raise the profile and campaign account of whoever holds it. City Councillor At-Large Stephen Murphy, a Dorchester native who now lives in Hyde Park, is also interested in the job.

The rumor mill has been churning in both Feeney and Yancey’s districts over whether they run again, with potential contenders chomping at the bit for an opening on the City Council. The job pays $87,500 a year and is seen as a springboard to higher office or even more lucrative gigs. Two open at-large seats, caused by Councillors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon leaving to unsuccessfully run for mayor, drew 15 contenders in the preliminary election last year. Open seats don’t come along often, particularly in the Dorchester and Mattapan districts.

The incumbent city councillors at-large – Murphy, John Connolly, Felix G. Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley – are expected to run for re-election next year.

A special election would also occur if the 13-member body ends up tossing District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner, who was convicted of accepting a $1,000 bribe and lying to FBI agents about it. A City Hall hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1.

Whispers persist over whether Flaherty, who frequently topped the ticket among the at-large councillors when he was still on the council, might mount a comeback campaign aimed at reclaiming his at-large seat, as a way to help slingshot himself into another mayoral run down the road. A source told the Boston Phoenix last week that a Flaherty at-large attempt is “90 percent certain, if not more.”
But a Flaherty run might also draw fire from advocates in communities of color, since Pressley, the first African-American woman elected to the City Council, and Arroyo, the second Latino elected to the body, would be in jeopardy in an “off-year” election cycle in which have seen— historically— fewer progressive voters make the trek to the polls.

In 2009, when a hotly contested mayoral race topped the ballot, Arroyo received 45,100 votes and Pressley received 41,800, while Connolly drew 51,300 votes and Murphy picked up roughly 51,000 votes.

Whether Flaherty runs or not, the rumors at the very least will help goose fundraising efforts for the incumbents.

Neighborhood liaison engaged to former mayor of Dorchester
Congratulations to Dorchester’s Lauren Smyth, 28, and Ryan Woods, 27, on their engagement. Woods, who works for the city’s parks department, proposed to Smyth, the Menino administration’s liaison to Dorchester, on Veterans Day.

Smyth, a St. Brendan’s native, met Woods, who was born and raised in Savin Hill, at the planting and dedication of a tree. They’ve been dating for three years.

Woods proposed to her under the very same tree.

Smyth has held her neighborhood services post since 2006. She attended Boston Latin School and UMass-Amherst. Woods, who has in the past held the honorary title of “Mayor of Dorchester,” attended Boston College High and later graduated from St. Michael’s College in Vermont.

Comings and Goings on Beacon Hill
Katherine Craven, the head of the Massachusetts School Building Authority and a former aide to House Speaker Thomas Finneran, is sticking around for the new state treasurer. Treasurer-elect Steven Grossman last week announced that Craven would stay on as head of the school financing agency and as a top aide.

Kathryn Burton, who managed Grossman’s campaign and also worked on City Councillor At-Large Pressley’s run, will be Grossman’s chief of staff. Burton is a former deputy political and communications director of the Barbara Lee Foundation.

Craven may not be the only staffer who worked under Treasurer Timothy Cahill to keep a job. Grossman told the State House News Service on Tuesday that he plans to keep a “significant” number of staffers. “Just because someone has been on the team, played a leadership role on the previous treasurer’s team, doesn’t mean that somehow they can’t continue to serve and play an active leadership role, and a productive one,” Grossman said.

Elsewhere in The Building, as the State House is sometimes called, Gov. Deval Patrick’s press secretary has left for the Gates Foundation in D.C. Juan Martinez, who had also worked for the Patrick administration’s health and human services secretariat, starts the new job in January.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.