|“Man, I know I’m going
to do my part.”
With the political demise of former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, there is an opening for the District 7 seat. Despite strong feelings in the community about the nature of the vacancy, it is time to move forward.
When Roxbury residents go to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 15 for the preliminary balloting, they will face seven choices. The number of candidates will be whittled down to two for the final election on March 15.
When a candidate for public office stands for election, there are several qualifications the voting public should expect he or she has met: experience with or in local government, a history of activism in the community, knowledge of the issues affecting one’s community and an adequately prepared campaign operation.
The level of interest in the seat is nothing new. But the level of preparation of four of the candidates demonstrates a higher level of political sophistication than seen in past elections.
Candidates Natalie Carithers, Tito Jackson, Cornell Mills and Danielle Williams all come to the race with a wealth of political experience that could equip them for the job. Each has a credible campaign organization with volunteer staff.
Carithers served as an aide to state Rep. Gloria Fox. Jackson, a former aide to Gov. Deval Patrick, also garnered an impressive fifth place finish in a race for one of the city’s four at-large seats on the council in the 2009 election.
Mills, the son of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, has considerable campaign experience and worked as a homicide investigator for District Attorney Daniel Conley. Danielle Williams, who worked as an aide to former Councilor Felix D. Arroyo and as a union organizer, is no stranger to the campaign trail, the Statehouse or City Hall.
Gathering signatures of registered voters, attracting volunteers and campaign contributions — these prerequisites for running a competitive campaign serve an important function by weeding out those who lack the drive and organizing skills necessary for effective service in City Hall.
Virtually every election draws its share of perennial candidates, unprepared contenders and single-issue zealots, most of whom add little to the political discourse that helps residents decide what kind of representation they want in City Hall. This election is not lacking in its share.
And the fact that four contenders have brought considerable resources and experience to the race shows a new level of political sophistication in our community.
District 7 voters will likely review the candidates’ views on a range of issues. Which candidate can best develop a working relationship with City Hall while maintaining the independence necessary to hold the mayor’s feet to the fire when the interests of the community are at stake?
Which candidate is best qualified to bridge the gap between the needs of a community that has the highest drop-out rates, murder rates and the city government that has the resources to help District 7 residents fight these issues?
It’s each candidates’ job to make a strong case for why they deserve a vote on Feb. 15. It’s the responsibility of eligible residents in District 7 to examine the qualifications of the candidates, make an informed decision and vote.
Yawu Miller, a former Managing Editor of the Bay State Banner, is now a Senior Editor specializing in community issues.