District 7 Councilor Chuck Turner said Tuesday the idea of bodyguards on the day of the preliminary election came from staffers concerned about reporters "hounding" him.
Challenger Carlos Henriquez sent out a press release last week, with a picture attached of several security guards - three or four of them dressed in dark suits - from the Dorchester-based Venom Security and Protective Services. "I'm concerned that the councilor feels the need for security to travel the district which he represents on election day," Henriquez said in a statement.
While chuckling, Turner told the Reporter, "It looked kind of strange, and I can appreciate Carlos's reaction. It's a reasonable reaction."
He added: "It really did look funny. I've never had security and don't need security. The staff was saying, 'Well the press is going to be hounding him and going around, and this person who owns a company is willing to help.' So why reject it? I took it but I figured I'd get some reaction."
Turner said he viewed the security as a way to get around to the various polling locations in his district. "For me, it was a way of getting an effective way of transportation around the polls," he said.
Turner hit back at Henriquez's suggestion that he felt he needed armed guards to walk the neighborhood. "If the question is, 'Am I afraid of my constituency,' the answer is no."
The "only time I've really felt besieged" was when reporters surrounded his house last fall, after he was indicted on federal corruption charges, he said. He has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the charges.
The final election between Turner and Henriquez is scheduled for Nov. 3.