Sunday, February 13, 2011

Word and Word Again on District 7

Regular readers know I'm not whole lot for posts that mainly point. Today's the exception, as two analyses of the District 7 City Councilor race are damned good.

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: , , , , , , , , , , Dumcius, Harmon, Roy Owens


Jed H said...

Disclaimer: I work for Cornell's campaign, but that has also given me the chance to observe him speak on many occasions. He's not a one-issue candidate. You are certainly interested in more issues than SSM, yet one could claim that you are a "single issue" guy because of the blog's title. Yes, we stress crime, just like you often return to the SSM issue. But it doesn't mean that that's your only issue nor is crime our only issue.

Crime is certainly our theme in that we think that violence and the fear of it drives residents' & businesses decisions about housing, education, job, and so on.

Cornell is the only one I'm aware of who raised the issue of the biolab. Cornell is the only 1 of the field who said its not enough to go picket job sites (you were there, you heard the whole thing.) And Tito suddenly started talking about mentoring AFTER Cornell talked about his already-existing mentoring program at BC High at the Rox Y debate. And those are just a few of the non-crime items.

In fact, Tito's agenda seems well-rounded because he's been lifting pieces of the other candidates after each forum and working them into his responses. Like his support/base, Tito's agenda is a mile wide and very shallow. I bet you most supporters would be hard pressed to name an actual part of Tito's agenda, beyond recalling one of the cute buzzwords ("Jackson Five Point Plan") or that he's going to call important people and not alienate folks.

Let's see, who's more well-rounded:

an unmarried guy with no kids who's work has been all in politics? Who's political work has been for Ron Bell; Deval Patrick; and himself?

...or a married guy with 4 kids, from a blended marriage, who worked for the DA yet also has stood against BPD searches of juveniles' homes and who's wife is a defense attorney? Who's worked for over 15 campaigns - not just his mom's - for both "old school" and "new school" politicians (Linda Dorcena Forry, for ex.) Who's worked in the public sector and the private sector, having run 2 businesses? Who, between himself and his kids has experienced BPS, charter schools, Metco, Catholic schools?

In fact, I'd submit to you that Cornell is the most well-rounded of any of them.. meaning that each of the other mainstream candidates has some great strength (Tito in organizing voters; Carithers in her speaking style; Heywood for veterans and mental health issues; Danielle for her extensive constituent services background) but they are all ultimately one-dimensional.

Lastly, you say "brusque and macho presentation of Mills"... hmmm, a black man who speaks in a commanding voice is brusque and macho... I see. Reminds me of the ultra-feminists who think that anything that's "too male" is bad.

massmarrier said...

Thank you for taking the effort to support Mr. Mills, Jed. Your detailed and passionate views add to the picture.

You and I see balance differently. I hold to my interpretation.

It was odd that you'd throw in both race and gender at the end in stereotypes. Neither of the women candidates at the table were the cliché of the faint damsel. Also, I"m not the only one to note Mr. Mills' prickliness, and in a field of black candidates, he stands apart for his personality not his race.

I know he, as well as most of the 7 candidates, are climbing every stoop and going to every public speaking chance in the district. We can be pretty sure their personalities will play big in this shortened cycle. Face to face who comes across best could well determine who gets voters to the polls.

Jed H said...

thanks for posting my response. Well, I think that ***some*** of the other personality assessments have been racially coded. In particular, Larry Harmon's piece in the Globe yesterday, where he even referenced (implied) "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

What I have observed that is ironic is that, while Cornell does get seen as what I'll call assertive, taking leadership, etc, once people meet him it actually erases the "bogeyman" factor - i.e. the people who wonder "who is this guy?" "what about the arrests the Globe won't let drop?" "Is he his mom's proxy?"

I can honestly tell you we tend to win people over about 3/4 of the time who were on the fence or leaning towards Tito, once they meet/hear Cornell. "I came here thinking I'd support Tito, but now..." - I have heard that numerous times. There are even serious donors to Tito who've made the switch.