With any luck, the City Council race is gearing to get ugly.
While all 12 mayoral candidates continue to bicker among themselves—despite there not being a single firm line of attack against another contender as of yet—a simmering undercard of spite is developing between a few candidates for City Council.
District councilors tend to have less of an independent streak than their at-large counterparts. The district gig is a job that lends itself less to positioning for a run at higher office and more to boosting one’s street cred in their respective neighborhoods. While there is less opportunity to craft policy (beyond what the mayor is already interested in), there is a greater impetus on constituent services.
Just before announcing his campaign, Crawford was one of two people who unsettled mayoral candidate Dan Conley by asking about his dismal record as Suffolk County District Attorney, setting off a heated exchange that, to Conley’s embarrassment, was caught on camera. To be fair, Conley’s record only seem dismal if you are a resident of Boston’s communities of color, and/or if you’ve been killed by a Boston cop in the last decade. To the wealthier, white, quasi-suburbanites in West Roxbury and their pretty strong not-getting-murdered-by-cops streak, Conley’s been just swell.
Tito Jackson has only been in office a few years. After a failed at-large councilor campaign in 2009, in which he was the first runner-up to four winners, Jackson ran to replace Chuck Turner. Turner had just been ousted from the council following his arrest on bribery charges and Jackson still had the name recognition from his at-large race, clearing an easy path to his victory.
Crawford has attacked Jackson for not being enough of a fighter for the Roxbury community, and for not being taken seriously by his fellow councilors.
This year, Jackson’s reelection chances had been little more than an afterthought, considering that his only competition was coming from perennial candidate Roy Owens, a homophobic crazy person running as an anti-abortion, anti-gay candidate.
Oddly enough, Crawford and Owens seem to be on a similar page when they challenge Jackson’s masculinity. Owens explicitly states that Jackson advocates for homosexuality and that homosexuality is why there is murder in the black community.
Crawford uses a photo of Jackson dressed as Prince to illustrate that he is not fighting for the community.
Meanwhile, just over in the South End, Chinatown and South Boston, incumbent Bill Linehan has to defend his council seat against Suzanne Lee for a second time. Two years ago, Chinatown’s Lee came within less than 100 votes to unseating the South Boston politician.
The two candidates are back in a race that continues to resemble a cold war more than anything else.
Lee, who gets credit for leading the turnaround of the Josiah Quincy School, is again running on her “educate the whole child” concept that combines school improvement with a push to improve home life for children.
Although her run is clearly an indictment of Linehan’s past unwillingness to serve constituents outside of South Boston at the expense of those in Chinatown and the South End, she never explicitly calls out Linehan. She’ll bristle at his name, hints at weaknesses in his record, but she’ll fall short of directly calling him out beyond the phrase, “I will serve the whole district.”
Linehan is the same way.
He has a terrible poker face that never quite fully conceals the disdain he has for his opponent. He would almost always rather change the subject than reference Lee, and yet he also never fails to talk about how much work he does serving his entire district.
I have a feeling Matt O’Malley and Mark Ciommo do not have to even take their respective races seriously and Frank Baker is unopposed, but there is still potential for the open races in Mattapan, Hyde Park, and the Back Bay to be breeding grounds for heated, contentious politics.
The best kind.