Reporter’s Notebook: Lawton charges opponent with vandalizing his sign; I didn’t do it, says Henriquez

Barry Lawton, one of the four candidates running to replace former state Rep. Marie St. Fleur, is accusing a fellow Democratic candidate of trashing one of his campaign signs. Lawton said that while driving with his children last Thursday he saw Carlos Henriquez putting one of his signs in a trash barrel outside of the Brown Food Market at the corner of West Cottage St. and Dudley St. Lawton’s sign had been up in the store since April, Lawton said.

“I’m disappointed, number one,” Lawton told the Reporter. “I’m just disappointed and I’m just surprised. He can’t deny it.”

Henriquez said Lawton’s accusations, which are supported by one of the store’s managers, are untrue and that a store employee took Lawton’s sign down after Henriquez asked if he could put his up. “I simply put my sign up,” Henriquez said.

The two are running in a Democratic primary for the Fifth Suffolk District race. Lawton has run twice for the seat, while Henriquez has run twice against City Councillor Chuck Turner. The other two candidates hoping to take St. Fleur’s seat are former state Rep. Althea Garrison and perennial candidate Roy Owens. With no Republican candidates, the winner of the Sept. 14 primary likely cruises to the Nov. 2 general election.

Henriquez said he has encountered business owners and residents who, upon learning that Henriquez is in the race, took down Lawton’s sign and put up their own. But Ricky Rodriguez, a store manager who says he witnessed the incident last Thursday, backed Lawton’s version. “Carlos took the sign,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “We didn’t touch it.”

Rodriguez said Henriquez apologized when Lawton confronted him immediately after the incident.
“That’s not what happened,” Henriquez said. “I’ve never touched a Chuck Turner sign, a Roy Owens sign, an Althea Garrison sign, or a Barry Lawton sign.”

Henriquez said he preferred to instead be talking about issues such as youth violence, affordable housing, and differences between him and Lawton on education.

Candidate answers on abortion, gay marriage draw attention

Answers on gay marriage and abortion from state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz’s Democratic challenger are raising eyebrows in Jamaica Plain. Chang-Diaz, who is serving her first term representing the Second Suffolk District, and Roxbury attorney Hassan Williams face off in the Sept. 14 primary.

Last week, Williams headed into the lion’s den, attending a forum put together by the Jamaica Plain Progressives. Jamaica Plain is a stronghold of support for Chang-Diaz.

The group, which includes several Chang-Diaz supporters, pressed him on his answers in a questionnaire he filled out earlier for the group.

Asked about gay marriage, Williams wrote, “I believe same sex marriage is well settled law in Massachusetts, and I will not do anything to change that status.”

“I believe in bringing people together and not dividing people,” he said when asked to clarify by the JP Progressives. He added: “As a state senator, I’m going to represent every single person in the district, no matter who they are, whether they vote or don’t vote, whether they have money or they don’t have money. That’s my plan, and I’m not going to do it by dividing people.”

He declined to say how he would have voted on gay marriage when asked by one Chang-Diaz supporter, calling it a divisive issue and saying he was focused on “bringing people together.” “I’m not going to be boxed in,” he said. “I refuse to be boxed in.”

Paula Herrington, the interim executive director of gay rights group MassEquality, said she was concerned about the statements. “Obviously, we’re not comfortable with that kind of stance,” she said. “I think he can be applauded for saying he’d like to bring people together, I think that’s an admirable sentiment. But you shouldn’t do that on the backs of someone’s civil rights.”

The group has endorsed Chang-Diaz.

On the issue of abortion, Williams wrote, “A woman has a right to choose whether or not to become pregnant. A child has a right not to be violated. Any conversation that disregards the right of either one is unconstitutional. It is not enough to respond that one is pro choice or not. The conversations must run deeper, looking at every unique situation. Every measure should be taken to honor the right of both whenever possible.”

Asked to clarify, Williams pointed to his response in the questionnaire and said, “I’m not going to allow somebody to put me in a pigeonhole box, and say he’s against this and for that.”

A video of the sit-down with the JP Progressives is available on the group’s website at www.jpprogressives.com.

Comings, Goings at City Hall

Another high-ranking City Hall official is headed for the exits. Larry Mayes, Mayor Thomas Menino’s chief of human services, is leaving on Sept. 17 to take a job as vice president of programs at Catholic Charities. In a statement, a “grateful” Menino said Mayes helped develop criminal offender record information (CORI) reform and has helped target youth gang violence.

Mayes is a former youth outreach worker in Fields Corner and the Bowdoin-Geneva sections of Dorchester. He is also the third member of the mayor’s cabinet to leave the concrete confines of City Hall this summer. Lisa Signori, the mayor’s budget chief, is taking a job at the Perkins School for the Blind, while Julie Burns, who headed up the department on arts and tourism, is headed to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo is bringing on a new staffer: Ana Pereira, formerly the news editor at Univision. She has worked at the Spanish language station for the last seven years and started her new job with Arroyo’s office this week. With her hiring, three out of the four staffers in Arroyo’s office live in Dorchester. Stuart Rosenberg, Arroyo’s chief-of-staff, lives near Adams Village, while aide Joy DePina lives in Uphams Corner. Pereira is a Lower Mills resident.

Pereira replaces Ivette Luna, who left the office in July to sign on as a campaign organizer with the activist organization Neighbor to Neighbor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop.