City, News

City Council candidates gear up for at-large election

Eight Boston City Councilor-At-Large candidates will compete Tuesday for four open spots on the council in the culmination of a race that has had little presence on Boston University’s campus, evidenced by the weak showing at last Monday’s Student Union candidate forum.

The eight candidates survived a Sept. 22 preliminary election that whittled down the race from an original 15 candidates. With two extra spots left vacant by mayoral candidates City Councilors-at-Large Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon, who have forfeited reelection this November, the possibility to change the dynamic of City Council is palpable.

Most of the candidates have emphasized their diverse backgrounds and have advocated for a city hall that is more connected with Boston’s citizens. They agree on several key topics, especially the promotion of civic engagement and green development.

Two incumbents placed at the top in the preliminaries and are expected to remain in their seats after Election Day.

Incumbent John Connolly is running under the slogan of ‘One Boston.” He is finishing his first two-year term and has become outspoken about creating a sustainable city and improving public schools, using his experience as a middle school teacher to create his platform.’

His fellow incumbent Stephen Murphy has been on the Council for 13 years. He has pushed for universities to increase their Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes and for criminal offender record reform during his time in office. He also chairs the special committee tasked with oversight of federal stimulus use.

Of the remaining candidates, four are minorities, two attended BU and all promise a more open city hall if they are elected.

Ayanna Pressley, a former College of General Studies student, would be the first black woman to serve on the council if elected. She pinpointed housing, safety and transportation as important issues for students at the Union forum, The Daily Free Press reported. She claims on her website that the top role of the council is constituent services.

Felix Arroyo, a labor activist, has earned more than 30 union endorsements. He worked at the Council as embattled Councilor Chuck Turner’s Constituent Services Director for four years and emphasizes collaborative politics in his main issues. Arroyo joins the other candidates in promoting development of a green city for job creation.’

Doug Bennett, a case specialist in Suffolk County’s trial court, has claimed he has knocked on 100,000 doors during his campaign. Cleaner streets, job creation, lower crime and violence rates and lower property taxes are his main issues, he said at the Union forum.’ Bennett calls himself a ‘man of the people,’ citing current politicians’ lack of personal connections.

Tito Jackson, who is on a leave of absence from his position as executive office of housing and economic development to run for the council, has highlighted more affordable housing, job creation,’ education and civic engagement as key issues for his campaign. He emphasizes his past work bringing jobs into Boston, and wants to create ‘real-world’ jobs, according to his website.

Andrew Kenneally, a former aide to Flaherty, said at the Council Forum he supports City Council President Mike Ross’ ‘No More Than Four’ legislation, which prohibits more than four undergraduates from living together off-campus in Boston.’ His campaign slogan ‘Get Boston Moving Again’ covers focuses such as PILOT increases.

Tomas Gonzalez came in eighth in the preliminary. He served as Mayor Thomas Menino’s Latino liaison and emphasizes job creation in the green economy on his website. He currently attends BU’s urban affairs graduate school and was the BU School of Medicine community outreach director. His main issues include transparency and utilizing college students to enrich cultural and educational programs in the city.

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