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Campbell comes out on top in District 4 preliminary

Tito Jackson gets 66 percent of District 7 vote

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Campbell comes out on top in District 4 preliminary
Yancey Campaign Manager Dan Janey receives poll results from volunteer Aminah Nunes at Yancey’s headquarters at 10 Dunbar Avenue.

In what may be this year’s most stunning political upset, newcomer Andrea Campbell grabbed 1,982 votes — 58 percent — in the District 4 City Council preliminary, rocketing ahead of incumbent Charles Yancey, who received 1,159 votes — 34 percent of the 3,422 ballots cast.

The two bumped challenger Terrance Williams — who received just 6 percent of the vote — out of the race. Yancey and Campbell will square off again in the Nov. 3 final election. A fourth candidate, Javon Lacett, pulled out, throwing his support behind Yancey.

In District 7, incumbent Tito Jackson maintained a solid lead with 1,408 votes – 66 percent of the 2,121 ballots cast. Challenger Charles Clemons received 381 votes, Heywood Fennell 104, Althea Garrison 74, Roy Owens 34 and Kevin Dwire received 22.

Jackson and Clemons will square off in the November 3 election.

During her victory party, at the Blarney Stone restaurant in Fields Corner, Campbell attributed her upset to a strong field organization backed by dozens of volunteers.

“I’m absolutely, extremely humbled by the amount of time that residents gave to get-out-the-vote on a day that was difficult,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do in November.”

Yancey Campaign Manager Dan Janey receives poll results from volunteer Aminah Nunes at Yancey’s headquarters at 10 Dunbar Avenue.

Polling last week took place on a Tuesday that was triple-hexed: It was the day after the Labor day vacation, the first day of school and the temperature steamed into the mid 90s. Although preliminary voting usually happens on the third Tuesday in September, this year that day coincides with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

A fourth factor driving down turnout was the fact that District 4 and District 7 — in Roxbury and Dorchester — were the only two council districts with competitive preliminaries. Because there are only five candidates for the four at-large seats, there was no preliminary balloting for that race. Turnout in districts 4 and 7 was just 7 percent — about half the turnout in recent local elections.

Local preliminaries typically attract the city’s most dependable voters, and few others, but volunteers with both campaigns said the heat, traffic and transportation headaches associated with the first day of school kept many of the district’s frequent voters home.

“It was a bad day,” said Joao DePina, who volunteered with Yancey’s campaign. “Many families were struggling to get their kids to and from school. Traffic was bad all day.”

Turnout ranged from as low as 4.6 percent in some precincts to 21 percent in Ward 17, Precinct 9. Most of the district’s precincts in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roslindale showed a patchwork of support for Campbell and Yancey. Campbell did best in the more heavily white precincts in Ward 16 and 17 – the precincts close to Dorchester Avenue, from Fields Corner down into Lower Mills. Yancey won in just one precinct in Ward 17 – precinct 7, which includes a section of Norfolk Street between Woodrow Ave. and Capen Street.

Campbell also won precincts deep in Mattapan, including Ward 18, precincts 1 and 7, which sit on either side of Mattapan Square.

To a large extent, Campbell’s better showing in the preliminary may have been the result of better political organizing. In a previous Banner interview, Campbell said she spent as much as six hours a day door-knocking, meeting voters in their homes.

The names of voters who supported Campbell were entered into a database. They were then called on election day in a get-out-the-vote effort that included rides to the polls.

Door-to-door

Campbell’s campaign manager, Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, said she was able to deploy more than 100 volunteers Tuesday, most of whom were knocking on doors and making phone calls to supporters.

Andrea Campbell greets former Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral and current Sheriff Steve Tompkins during her victory party at the Blarney Stone restaurant in Fields Corner.

While Yancey’s campaign had volunteers stationed at polling places, Prisco-Buxbaum pulled volunteers out of polling places early on.

“We initially had people checking polls to see what the turnout would be,” she said. “By early afternoon, we pulled them off and put them on doors and phones.”

Get-out-the-vote Coordinator Nigel Simon said the campaign targeted frequent voters and made sure Campbell herself knocked on as many doors as possible.

“We door-knocked the entire district,” he said. “We let people know we were serious.”

With traffic, a heat wave and the unusual timing of the election, Campbell’s preparation paid off.

“It really benefited somebody who’s identified their voters,” said Yancey supporter Louis Elisa. “Yancey really should have taken this more seriously. Campbell energized her base. She had people who were committed to her, and they came out and voted.”

Campbell’s strong showing in the District 4 City Council preliminary may have taken political observers by surprise, but it was months in the making. In November of 2014, Campbell began raising money, ending the year with $27,173. By June, she had put together a campaign team and raised an additional $34,000.

By June, Yancey had only raised $6,400.

Campbell’s financial edge gave her the ability to send several mailings to District 4 voters before the election. In August, her campaign spent more than $38,000. Yancey’s campaign spent just $4,909 that month.

In addition to campaign funds, Campbell also has received the lion’s share of endorsements, including backing this week from Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins. She has also received support from several building trades unions, EMILY’S List and Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter school group.