Six potential contenders in the Fifth Suffolk special election turned in their nomination papers this week, a day after one of them picked up the endorsement of a local ward committee.
The candidates who could succeed former state Rep. Carlos Henriquez include Evandro Carvalho, an attorney; Karen Charles, chief of staff at the state’s Department of Telecommunications; Jennifer Johnson, a local activist; Barry Lawton, who has run for this seat previously; and perennial candidates Althea Garrison and Roy Owens.
Candidates hoping to make it onto the ballot were required to submit 150 signatures to local election officials by Monday of this week. The signatures now must be certified and sent to the secretary of state’s office.
The primary is set for April 1, and the general election follows less than a month later, on April 29. The district includes parts of Dorchester and Roxbury.
The signatures deadline came and went without any word from Henriquez, who was ousted by House lawmakers earlier this month after a jury had convicted him of two assault and battery charges. First elected in 2010, Henriquez, who is serving a six-month sentence, has maintained his innocence since the 2012 incident. The Dorchester Democrat could still run for reelection in the fall and face whoever wins the special election.
Charles received a boost before the nomination signatures Monday deadline when the Ward 15 Democratic Committee met at the Savin Hill Apartments on Sunday and voted to endorse her. The committee is co-chaired by Eileen Boyle and Winston Richie, Charlotte Golar Richie’s husband. Judy Meredith, a former Ward 15 Democratic Committee chair, is supporting Johnson.
On Charles’s website, Golar Richie, who once held the Fifth Suffolk seat and finished third in last year’s mayoral race, offers a supportive statement, along with an endorsement from Nelson Merced, another former Fifth Suffolk seat-holder. “This is a wonderful community, and we need a leader like Karen, who I know will make this community her No. 1 priority,” Golar Richie said in the statement.
Lawton, a former teacher and aide to ex-state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, entered the race late last week. “I will run a vigorous, positive, issues-focused campaign,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “My ultimate goal is nothing less than the empowerment of our community for the enhancement of quality of life in Dorchester and Roxbury.”
Lawton ran for the seat in 2010, coming in 41 votes behind Henriquez’s 719 in the Democratic primary. Garrison and Owens picked up 400 and 226 votes, respectively. But this year’s race will be marked by three newcomers: Carvalho, Charles, and Johnson haven’t run for office before, though most have some experience working on campaigns. Johnson worked on former City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo’s unsuccessful bid for mayor, while Charles volunteered on Charlotte Golar Richie’s mayoral campaign. Carvalho is being advised by Cayce McCabe, who managed Linda Dorcena Forry’s successful state Senate campaign.