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Rep. Gloria Fox will not run again

Three eyeing Seventh Suffolk seat

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Rep. Gloria Fox will not run again
Chynah Tyler (Photo: Photo: Courtesy Chynah Tyler Campaign)

Longtime state Rep. Gloria Fox announced last week that she will not seek re-election for the seat she has held since 1985. Three contenders already have taken out paperwork to vie for her Seventh Suffolk District seat. Fox is one of only two black women currently elected to the State House, but the changeover may not reduce diversity: all of the current contestants are women of color.

Competing thus far are Chynah Tyler, former aide to Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; Mary-dith Tuitt, aide to Rep. Fox; and Monica Cannon, community liaison for Roca, an organization that works to keep at-risk, court-involved youth out of jail. The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2016 and there is plenty of time for more candidates to enter the race, with the filing deadline on June 7.

The Seventh Suffolk District extends from Audubon Circle near Boston University to parts of Back Bay, the Fenway and Roxbury. According to Ballotopedia, it is approximately 47 percent white, 32 percent black, 9 percent Asian and, by ethnicity, 17 percent Hispanic.

Campaign teams

Chynah Tyler, former aide to Sen. Chang-Diaz, brings a staff familiar with the Seventh District state representative race. Campaign managers Frank Farrow and Marcus Johnson worked on Rufus Faulk’s failed 2014 bid to become the Democratic candidate for the seat and Johnson worked on Faulk’s 2012 campaign for it as well. Tyler’s field director, Jed Hresko, also ran in the 2012 Democratic primary. Gloria Fox took the nomination in both of those years. Along with her three staff members, Tyler counts about 20 volunteers.

Tyler was born in Roxbury and said her family has lived in the community for generations.

“I am a proud Roxbury native,” she said. “This is not about myself, it’s about our community and how I can help navigate the legislative system for the benefit of our community.”

Among Tyler’s competitors is Rep. Gloria Fox’s chief of staff, Mary-dith Tuitt, who moved to Roxbury last year and said she wants to continue Fox’s advocacy.

“I want to continue the work,” Tuitt said. “I know Roxbury needs a strong voice. I know the issues. I know the residents.”

Tuitt estimated her volunteer count at a similar level to Tyler’s: 15 to 20 people. Her staff includes campaign manager Dan Janey and committee chair Mukiya Baker-Gomez. Janey and Baker-Gomez have extensive campaign experience, most recently working on former City Councilor Charles Yancey’s unsuccessful 2015 bid for re-election. Tuitt’s team also includes a volunteer outreach coordinator, and is meeting with potential field coordinators this week, she said.

Tuitt has had two past bids for elected positions: Twelfth Suffolk district state representative and District 3 Boston city councilor. She said is using lessons from those experiences in her approach now, making sure to select supporters with strong political backgrounds to guide her strategy.

“The last one was a learning experience, so now I know what not to do,” Tuitt said. “This [campaign] is geared toward more political outlook toward who’s on my team.”

Monica Cannon has no official staff yet, she said, and has approximately 25-30 volunteers so far. Cannon’s campaign experience comes from volunteering on field operations organization for City Councilor Tito Jackson’s successful 2011 campaign and in event planning on Rufus Faulk’s 2014 Seventh Suffolk District state representative campaign.

Cannon said she is inspired to run in part so that she can further her community advocacy work from a legislative perspective. Her children are another inspiration.

“Raising young black men in this community and watching what my children have had to experience is an inspiration in itself,” Cannon said. “I’ve been doing work in this community for the last 13 years and wanted to be able to help them from a state perspective.”

Cannon grew up in Dorchester and has lived in Roxbury for the past 13 years.

Official start

Tyler filed her campaign committee with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance on March 16 and announced on April 4 that she was the the first candidate to file the qualifying number of signatures to get on the ballot. Candidates need 150 accepted signatures and Tyler said she turned in more than 500. She did not have an estimate of how much money she had raised so far, but said her goal is $10,000.

Cannon filed her committee first, on Feb. 25. She said she pulled papers on February 6 and has been steadily turning in signatures since then, reaching about 200. She said she is waiting to hear from the OCPF on how many signatures are confirmed. She has raised about $3,000 and aims to reach $50,000.

Tuitt was last to file her committee, taking out papers last Friday, two days after Fox announced she would not run again. Tuitt did not state her current funding, but said she aims for at least $50,000.

According to city records, 2,069 votes were cast in the 2012 democratic primary for the Seventh Suffolk state representative race, and in 2014 the votes cast tally was 2,074.