Potential candidates weigh run for 12th Suffolk House seat

Several people are weighing candidacies to replace Rep. Dan Cullinane in the 12th Suffolk House district, which includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and Milton. Cullinane, who was first elected in 2013, announced last month that he will not seek re-election to the seat this fall. 

His decision has prompted a new round of consideration for people with political ambitions who live in the city-suburban district along the Neponset River.

Nomination papers for the election are now in circulation and must be filed with city or town election officials by May 5. The primary election to pick party nominees is Sept. 1, with the general election scheduled for Nov. 3, the same day as the presidential election.

In the last two election cycles, Mattapan-based attorney Jovan Lacet mounted unsuccessful campaigns against Cullinane. He indicated last year that he intended to launch a third challenge against the incumbent, who beat him by 467 votes in 2018. But Lacet topped Cullinane in 9 of 15 Boston precincts that are in the district. There are also two precincts in the town of Milton, which Cullinane won handily.

Lacet has not responded to Reporter requests for an interview, but his posts on social media indicate that he is already campaigning for the seat. He has maintained a campaign account since 2015, and he has raised $1,450 since the beginning of the year, according to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

But Lacet likely will not be the only candidate on the ballot.

Brandy Fluker-Oakley, a Mattapan attorney, told the Reporter this week that she will definitely be a candidate.  She is a partner at The Management Center (TMC), a non-profit that serves other progressive non-profits by training with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“I am running for state representative for the 12th Suffolk District,” she said in a statement. “As a Mattapan native and Boston Latin School graduate, I was afforded many opportunities that allowed me to become a teacher, attorney, advocate, and organizational leader.”

She added: “Moved by my mother’s experiences with segregation and her sacrifice, I am ready to work hard to improve the lives of the residents of the 12th while ensuring all have equitable access to opportunity. I look forward to listening and earning their support.” 

Stephanie Everett, a Mattapan attorney who sought the 12th Suffolk seat in 2013, said this week that she, too, is considering another bid for the office. Her day-to-day life is split between functioning as an attorney, a wife, and a mother to a blended family of nine. 

“I’m an attorney by trade,” she said. “I have my own law practice and my work is split between criminal defense work and real estate cases, which are totally different.”

She continued: “I’m strongly considering a lot of things, first starting with my family. I’ve also been talking to a lot of community leaders. The conversations I’ve been having with people are: Is my voice the one that needs to be present today, or is there another voice that needs to be present today? I have gotten a lot of positive feedback that people would want me to represent them.”

Everett has State House experience, having worked as deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, and chief of staff at the Dept. of Transitional Assistance (DTA.)

Meanwhile, Mattapan native and Dorchester resident Donovan Birch, Jr. has decided not to run for the seat. He had been publicly campaigning for the seat until recently. Last week, he shared a letter with the Reporter explaining why he’s taken himself out of the mix.

“Unfortunately, there are a number of personal matters occurring in my life that require me to step up to be the son, brother, partner, and friend my circle of support needs right now. I will be turning my focus back to my family and my business, two things I put on the back burner for nearly six months to run this race.” 

On his website, called ‘Live from the 12th Suffolk,’ Birch had campaigned with a goal to “empower more young, queer, Black, and Latino folks from the district to lend their voices to politics.” 

Another name that has surfaced in recent days is Cameron Charbonnier, a Dorchester resident and a longtime aide to Mayor Walsh. A former honorary Mayor of Dorchester, a ceremonial role earned by raising funds for the Dorchester Day Parade, he currently works as director of Strategic Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment. Charbonnier declined to comment on his plans at this point, but sources familiar with the emerging field say he is still considering a run.

After Cullinane announced his decision in February, Leon David, who has worked as Cullinane’s top aide since 2013, told the Reporter that the next representative must have the ability to advocate for a diverse body of constituents across the entire district. 

He has not said whether or not he will be a candidate.

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