Teacher plans run for District 3 Council seat

Joel Richards, who ran for District 4, says he'll be running for District 3 after redistricting redrew the lines of the nine City Council districts.

Joel Richards, a Boston Public Schools teacher and pastor who ran for the District 4 City Council seat in 2021, plans to make another run for office next year.

But this time he’d be running for the District 3 City Council seat. Councillors redrew the political boundaries of the nine Council districts as part of the process known as redistricting, and Richards now lives in District 3 instead of District 4.

Frank Baker, who has held the District 3 seat since 2012, has yet not decided whether he is running for reelection, though he raised nearly $30,000 last month. The 2023 municipal election cycle will feature the City Council on the ballot; the mayorship isn’t up again until 2025.

The redrawn District 3 has lost most of the Neponset area, while gaining precincts in South Boston. The district also includes a part of the South End.

A teacher at Blackstone Elementary School in the South End, Richards has served as president of Fields Corner Main Street and he is a board member of Little Saigon, also located in Fields Corner. He helped create and plan Dorchester’s Juneteenth celebration.

“I’ve seen how inequality pervades our society and creates barriers for so many. But I’ve also seen through scripture the inherent good in all of us and our ability to address these issues,” Richards said in a statement. “But when fractured politics and personal quibbles get in the way, we lose our vision and we do not do justice for the city of Boston. We need a unified council that acts with the urgency and efficiency that the problems affecting our working families require.”

Richards was one of nine candidates who ran for District 4 in 2021. The seat opened up after incumbent Andrea Campbell launched a run for mayor. Campbell is now the attorney general-elect.

Richards didn’t make it past the preliminary, coming in third behind finalists Brian Worrell and Evandro Carvalho. Worrell won the November final for District 4, which includes Dorchester and Mattapan.

Baker, who lives in Columbia-Savin Hill area, had his own challenger that year: Stephen McBride, a Pennsylvania native living on Jones Hill. Baker handily won reelection, 63 percent (8,518 votes) to McBride’s 37 percent (4,972 votes).

Asked for comment on Richards’ announcement, Baker said, “Good for him.”

Baker added that he hasn’t made a decision on running for reelection. “I’m trying to get through the Christmas season,” he said, adding that he was focused on City Council hearings, including one on Monday with the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee, which he chairs. Mayor Wu’s Zoning Board of Appeal nominees are on the docket.

Baker's campaign account currently has $87,700 in cash on hand, according to public filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).

In November, he raised $28,000, including $500 from the Boston Police Detectives Political Action Committee (PAC), $250 from the Greater Boston Real Estate Board PAC, and $100 from John O'Toole, his former opponent in 2011.

This post was updated with campaign finance information from OCPF and comments from Councillor Baker.

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