Look to the always thorough Gintautas Dumcius at the Dorchester News for his recap on six of the seven candidates here.
Over at the Globe, columnist Lawrence Harmon contrasts the two presumed leaders, Tito Jackson and Cornell Mills here.
Between these, you can learn plenty about the minds, backgrounds and emotions of the candidates. Note that neither mentions one, Althea Garrison. She has been a stealth candidate for this race. I had the same problem in covering the forum at the Roxbury Y here and here, when she didn't show.
The preliminary election is this Tuesday, 2/15, and the final in the special a month later, 3/15, pitting the top two vote getters. Then the winner may just keep on running and hope short-term incumbency means something, as the slot is up for the regular election in the fall.
This is not my district, but I shouldn't let that stop me from holding forth. Tito Jackson is the answer. He is the most balanced candidate and thus the one most likely to deliver for the constituents.
This is literally his neighborhood, inside him as well as were he lives. He understands and has considerable experience in constituent service and has the added advantage of being plugged in at the city and state level — you know, where they make the policy and money decisions. Moreover, he has specific goals and plans for accomplishing them.
Mills is a formidable opponent. However, he is dreadfully one-dimensional. No one denies that youth and other street crime is a huge problem in District 7. Given his personal background as well as his professional experience, we can understand why he makes that his top priority. However, he really has little to say on education or almost anything else except for a bit on stopping foreclosures in the district. He's too narrowly focused for a wide-ranging job.
In contrast, Natalie Carithers seems like she'd be great on constituent services. As a disclaimer, she helped me file a bill when she worked for Rep. Willie Mae Allen; I'm prejudiced here. I don't see real policies from her. Also, she talks a loud, repetitive rap about how she's a fighter. That makes for good theater, but it could be counterproductive in choosing to butt heads with the major and his minions.
Personally, I like Haywood Fennell. He is the brightest and wittiest and best read of the bunch. He too does not have a broad set of policies and goals. He's worked a long time on veterans rights and benefits. It shows. He's also a write-in and likely has little oomph to get voters to the polls with stickers for him.
Danielle Renee Williams is a do-gooder activist. She also doesn't have much of a program and parrots the major concerns of the district with no path out of the troubles.
Roy Owens is not only in left field, he's also playing a totally different game from the real candidates. He runs for this or that and always gets his few hundred votes. That's likely to be less in this special with no other races or issues on the ballot. His only real platform is stopping abortion, to which he attributes literally all ills of Boston's African-American citizens. 'nuff said.
I think Jackson should be Chuck Turner's replacement. If the other top candidate in the preliminary is Mills or Carithers, the month to the final would feature lots of debates or debate-like-events where they flesh out their platforms. That would be a terrific disadvantage for the one-issue Mills. Either way, voters could also weigh the brusque and macho presentation of Mills against the self-defined scrappy Carithers or against the charming, smooth and connected Jackson.
Tags: massmarrier, District 7, candidates, forum, special election, Carithers, Tito Jackson, Cornell Mills, Fennell, Danielle Williams, Dumcius, Harmon, Roy Owens