Editorial: Wanted: Good men and women for 12th Suffolk

Last week’s top headline in the Reporter was State Rep. Dan Cullinane’s decision to not seek re-election to the 12th Suffolk seat in the House of Representatives this fall. Cullinane, 34, has served in the seat effectively and honorably since 2013. His leadership in the Dorchester-Mattapan delegation will be missed when he leaves the job at the end of the year.

His decision was a surprise to some, given his relative youth and his passion for public service. He himself has referred to it as his “dream job.”
But a political life in 2020— even on the local front— can be a grind on a family. Cullinane and his wife Emily have two very young children —ages 2 and 8 months. He does not yet have a new job, he told us last week and he intends to finish out his term strong. That, too, reflects well on him.

Since Cullinane is not resigning, there will be no special election. His successor will be picked in two already scheduled elections, starting with a primary election on Tues., Sept 1.

In stepping off the electoral stage at this early point in an election year, Cullinane is giving another gift to the district he has served so well: the chance to think big about the possibilities of new representation. We hope that new faces who have never made an attempt to enter public life will consider running.

There is still plenty of time for people thinking about running for state office this year to mount a candidacy. Nomination papers just became available last week— on Feb. 11. A candidate who hopes to run for a district state seat — such as state representative— will need to gather enough signatures to make the ballot and turn them into city or town officials by April 28. (In the case of a state rep district, a candidate needs only 150 certified signatures to make the ballot.)

The 12th Suffolk is a blend of cultures, villages, languages, and interests. It straddles city and suburb and includes everyone from the state’s most affluent to our nation’s newest, most vulnerable arrivals. It includes two precincts in the town of Milton; precincts in Lower Mills and Ashmont-Adams; and along the River Street corridor from Hyde Park to Mattapan, including Mattapan Square.

It’s home to the beautiful Neponset River, the Greenway trail that accompanies it, and the Ashmont-Mattapan trolley line that remains a vital route for commuters.

The district is a busy one. In recent years, activism has been stirred by new development and city-led initiatives such as PLAN: Mattapan. A homegrown neighborhood council now exists in Mattapan and holds its own elections— including one scheduled for next weekend (Feb. 29, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. at KIPP Academy on Babson Street).

Would-be Democratic candidates who want to get a feel for electoral possibilities would also do well to make it to one of the two Democratic ward committee meetings that will be held in the coming weeks to elect delegates to the state party convention in May.

The Ward 17 Dems will convene on Tues., Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Sheet Metal Union Hall, 1157 Adams St; Ward 18 Dems will gather at Hyde Park’s Municipal Building on Sat., March 7, at 10 a.m.

Here’s hoping that a robust and talented field of new faces will be seeking this important seat in the State House.