In 5th Suffolk race, Worrell puts emphasis on community ties

Chris Worrell. Seth Daniel photo

Chris Worrell’s knock at the door was answered with some hesitation by a neighbor on Nonquit Street in Uphams Corner last Saturday evening. Standing inside was a woman who was listening as Worrell – who is running for the open seat in the Fifth Suffolk District vacated by state Rep. Liz Miranda – stood on the doorstep and explained who he was and why he was asking for her vote.

The awkwardness was quickly bridged, though, when the candidate asked the woman if she knew a friend of his. That friend turned out to be the woman’s sister.

“I’ve known her a long time,” said Worrell. “Tell her you met Chris Worrell, and please, I need your vote on Sept. 6.”

That sort of interaction has been the formula for the Worrell campaign. The candidate said he doesn’t employ, or rely on, consultants or strategists. Instead, he walks the streets, connecting with people he has known through his years in the neighborhood – and those whom his family, including his brother, District 4 City Councillor Brian Worrell, knows.

“We are out hitting the doors every day, 10-hour shifts, since the get-go,” said Worrell last Saturday as he campaigned door-to-door on Monadnock Street with brother Brian, and other volunteers. “Tying together names and tying together faces, it always happens at the doorstep…Our family is a big family and when you knock on the door, the Worrell name is known.”

Chris, 36, grew up on Hewins Street and makes his home in Grove Hall on Normandy Street with his wife and two young children. Unlike Brian, who was considered a political outsider when he won a Council seat last year, Chris worked for state Sen. Nick Collins as a community liaison and then moved to City Hall for a job with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). He said he has been used to working behind the scenes and getting problems resolved quietly.

But now, he said, he sees a unique opportunity to align with his brother at the city and state levels to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life issues and to address the opioid epidemic.

“We have a moment in history to be very intentional,” he told one family relaxing under a shade tree in their Virginia Street front yard. “A lot of things come from the city and get lost in the paperwork at the State House. I’m going to pick that up.”

The partnership idea between the Worrell brothers is one they tout, but Chris has said not everyone likes the idea. The Ward 15 Democratic Committee is one such community player; it gave its electoral nod to Worrell’s opponent, former City Hall and State House aide Danielson Tavares.

Perennial candidate Althea Garrison is also on the Sept. 6 ballot.

“We’re not trying to be the Owens or the Bolling families,” he said, referring to two prominent Boston political dynasties. “We’re just trying to be the Worrells and bring change to a community we live in and that really needs it…It’s not a power trip, it’s two brothers loving their community.”

Aside from Brian, Chris said his team of canvassing volunteers often includes state Rep. Jon Santiago, and former City Council candidate Carla Monteiro, who help him connect to neighbors and break into tight-knit streets in the district, which includes parts of Dorchester and Roxbury.
But sometimes it comes down to just a lifetime of knowing people, Worrell said.

On Saturday, as they finished canvassing Virginia Street, having left literature on the doorstep of former mayoral candidate John Barros, who is supporting Tavares, a long-time friend and former business partner drove by. He stopped to let them know his family lived on the street and they were with Chris.

“My uncles live up here,” said the friend. “Go up and tell him you know me. He’ll want to hear you out.” So, the Worrell campaign made its way back for another face-to-face connection.

“Some people want to sit behind a desk,” said Chris. “For me, it’s all about being in the community, knowing people and connecting with them and their families.”

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