Reporter's Notebook: Henriquez appeals for support as new front opens in 5th Suffolk contest

State Rep. Carlos Henriquez, facing a two-pronged electoral challenge from perennial candidate Althea Garrison, penned a letter to residents asking for their vote in the Thursday primary.

Henriquez is juggling a reelection effort and an attempt to clear his name after a former girlfriend accused him of assaulting and kidnapping her. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the next court date is set for later in September.

Garrison, a former state representative who frequently runs for City Council and State House seats, sent a letter to voters last week, deriding Henriquez and claiming the court case has distracted him from his job.

She also asked voters to write in her name and address on the Sept. 6 Democratic primary ballot. She is on the Nov. 6 ballot as an independent.

In his own letter, Henriquez alluded to the allegations against him and said he remained committed to the job, with plans to launch a newsletter and a phone number “that delivers important news” to voters.

“Like you I was disappointed and felt bad about the negative press around me and the district,” Henriquez, a first-termer who represents parts of Dorchester and Roxbury, wrote. “As for my own personal battle I am confident that my name will be cleared and reputation restored. Professionally I will continue to serve the high quality of representation that you have gotten used to receiving.”

Henriquez could be facing a challenge on another front: Nanci Conklin Lawton, a Meetinghouse Hill resident, formed a campaign committee on Aug. 30 to run for Fifth Suffolk state representative, the position Henriquez currently holds. That could mean she’s waging a write-in campaign, too.

Lawton, a Democrat who has worked at the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development and as a State House aide, did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.

She is in the midst of a divorce from husband Barry Lawton, who ran against Henriquez in the 2010 Democratic primary and lost by 41 votes.

In July, Nanci Lawton referenced Henriquez’s charges and told the Reporter, “It’s not the time to have a legislator have a mug shot.”

The Thursday primary election will likely see a low turnout. The election is also the same day as the first day of school in Boston and the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, which has drawn a small contingent of Massachusetts Democrats.

The amount of money candidates will spend won’t be clear until after the election. Reports filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance last week gave a small window into fundraising and spending before the primary.

Henriquez raised $1,350 between January and the end of August, though the haul came before the alleged incident in July. He had $773 as an ending balance heading into the primary.

Donations came from a Cambridge Democrat and political action committees of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Ironworkers Union Local 7 of South Boston, Plumbers Union Local 12, and the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, among others.

Pressley blogging up a storm at Democratic convention

A Democratic National Convention survival kit. Ruminations on the universal health care bill former Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law. And photos of Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson and various sites in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was only one place this week to get those perspectives, and that was on a blog co-authored by City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley and Brookline Board of Selectmen’s Jesse Mermell.

The two local elected officials set up a blog to chronicle their adventures at the convention. “We’re longtime dear friends, both delegates, and for the first time on any trip we’ve ever taken we’re rooming together,” Mermell wrote. “What could possibly go wrong?”

Pressley, a veteran of past conventions, noted in a separate post the convention gift bag provided to delegates. “I am most excited about the mini electronic personal fan, it’ll give me some relief from this Carolina heat, and I also love the hand held NARAL Pro-Choice fan which reads, Politicians Make Crappy Doctors,” she wrote. “I can’t wait to wave that bad boy in the convention hall.”

And in another post, Pressley expressed mock relief that the two of them were not traveling by car.

“Jesse has downloaded the Evita soundtrack and a nonstop play list of showtunes,” Pressley wrote. “Lord have mercy.”

Baker asks for hearings on medication drop-off system, voc-tech education
District 3 City Councillor Frank Baker is calling for hearings on the implementation of a prescription medication drop-off system and the state of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.
Baker filed hearing orders on the two topics in late August.

Madison Park has been designated an “innovation school,” meaning administrators will have greater flexibility with the curriculum. The school had previously fallen short in Adequate Yearly Progress ranking and 40 percent of entering freshmen weren’t graduating in four years, according to the hearing order.

Menino announced in his State of the City address this year a complete overhaul of the school and said local top chef Barbara Lynch, a Madison Park alumna, would join fellow chef Gordon Hamersley, in offering internships and apprenticeships to its students.

On the campaign trail in 2011, Baker spoke of putting increased focus on technical vocational high schools in the school system.

The Madison Park hearing order was co-sponsored with City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, who chairs the council’s education committee.

The hearing order for the drop-off system notes that several communities – Gloucester, Reading and Winchester – have “successfully installed drug collection units in an effort to address issues of substance abuse among young people.”

Quote of Note: Rep. Marty Walsh on the Republican Convention
Snark wasn’t in short supply during the days of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, whether on the convention floor or on social networking sites like Twitter. Clint Eastwood attempting to improvise a speech on national television helped, and appeared to overshadow notable speeches, such as that of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who is considered a rising star in the Republican Party.

“Thank You Republican Party and Clint Eastwood for 4 more years,” read a tongue-in-cheek tweet from state Rep. Marty Walsh. “Rubio see you in 2016!”

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