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Candidates prepare for state House races

Incumbents face challengers for 14th, 12th and 11th Suffolk seats in primary

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Candidates prepare for state House races
Top row, left to right: Stephen Bedell; Charles Clemons; Dan Cullinane Bottom row, left to right: Jovan Lacet; Liz Malia; Virak Uy

Candidates for legislative races are gearing up for the September 8 Democratic primaries in the fourteenth, twelfth, eleventh and seventh Suffolk districts. In many of the contests, incumbents are defending their seats against new challengers.

Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, who formerly held the 12th Suffolk District House seat, said that in running an effective campaign, newcomers especially will need to focus on getting themselves known to voters, which means knocking on doors and attending community meetings. Incumbents need strong track records of helping their constituents and cannot assume votes are guaranteed — they ought to be sure to be present in the community as well.

Key campaign components, Forry said, include having a manager, coordinator, field director or other person who can shoulder the hefty work of campaign organization, as well as gathering volunteers and raising enough money to fund outreach efforts such as mailings. A successful

organization can be costly.

“You should have a minimum of $30,000,” she told the Banner. “There’s a way to work effectively with $30,000 — you just have to be strategic.”

Hyde Park race

In the 14th Suffolk District, 40-year incumbent Angelo Scaccia faces two contenders: West Roxbury and former-Hyde Park and Roslindale resident Anthony Solimine, making his third consecutive bid for the seat, and Virak Uy, Hyde Park resident and BPS school teacher, embarking on his first run for office.

Scaccia, a Marine Corps veteran, serves as the vice chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. He also is a member of two other joint committees — Ways and Means and Veterans and Federal Affairs — and two House committees: Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, and Ways and Means. Scaccia held office from 1973 to 1979 and has served continuously since 1981.

Solimine worked as a lawyer — primarily as a public defender — for ten years and in 2002 sought the District 5 City Council seat. He told the Banner that, if elected, he hopes to shorten the use of West Roxbury’s quarry and stop the location of a pipeline nearby, reopen Hyde Park’s Tompkins Community Center and reinstate a “Say No to Drugs” program, as well as work to prevent recidivism.

Uy taught elementary grades in Roxbury and Dorchester district schools for the past eight years. Frustration with BPS budget cuts and school closings prompted him to run, Uy told the Banner. His key goals include improving public school funding, establishing small business grants and tax credits, enhancing veteran’s access to trauma care and creating more programs to support seniors and provide mentorship and job preparation for youth programs.

Campaigning

Scaccia garnered a strong majority of votes in the past two elections. In the two-way 2012 primary, Scaccia took 77 percent of votes cast to Solimine’s 23 percent.

In 2014, Solimine ran again. In that two-way primary, Scaccia took 73 percent of votes cast, while Solimine took 26 percent, according to city records, and spent about $16,900 compared to Solimine’s expenditures of about $5,600, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Scaccia ended 2014 with approximately $20,850, according to the OCPF. He was unavailable for comment.

Solimine told the Banner he is saving costs by reusing some materials from previous runs and is not actively fundraising at present. His 2014 campaign ended with a negative balance, according to the OCPF. Solimine has four to six volunteers and no campaign manager or paid staff. His outreach methods include distributing literature at doors of registered voters, in public locations and through mailings, and he hopes to build on his previous voter base.

Uy raised $4,000 thus far and has a second fundraising event in the planning, he told the Banner. His campaign comprises about 40 volunteers, organized by his neighbor and campaign manager, Jean Venditti, who previously has volunteered on political campaigns. The campaign is using signs and door-knocking — hitting about 100 per day — to raise its profile.

Uy said he can bring a more robust and visible campaign than Scaccia has confronted in the past, and that votes going to challengers in the past two primaries show that constituents desire change.

A Dorchester, Mattapan and Milton race

In the 12th Suffolk District, incumbent Dan Cullinane is running against Mattapan resident and attorney Jovan Lacet and Hyde Park resident and health care worker Carlotta Williams.

Cullinane has held the seat since 2013, which he won in a special election. He told the Banner that his key achievements in office include helping to organize a Mattapan youth summer job fair, secure seed funding for mental health services provision in Mattapan and advocating for community engagement in development plans for the Mattapan Square MBTA parking lot. If re-elected, his plans include working on development of the Mattapan MBTA lot and Cote Ford properties and advocating for maintenance and improvement of the Mattapan High Speed Trolley Line. He also will seek to expand local education, training and job opportunities and to increase minimum wage and employment standards in certain service jobs.

Lacet’s platform includes increasing funding to public schools, providing tax credits for small businesses, CORI reform and combating displacement, he told the Banner. Lacet ran for the District 4 city council seat last year before withdrawing his candidacy.

Williams told the Dorchester Reporter she would focus on areas including economic development without displacement, affordable housing stock increases, substance abuse, domestic violence and small businesses.

In the 2013 special election primary, Cullinane won approximately 60 percent of votes cast, competing against three contenders, including one write-in, according to city records. In the 2014 four-way primary, he took approximately 66 percent of votes cast.

Cullinane is managing his own campaign, which comprises approximately 350 volunteers, many from his previous four campaigns. Activities include phone banks, door knocking and placing signs.

This year, he has raised approximately $39,000, some of which will be allocated toward campaign efforts and sponsorship of community organizations and events, he told the Banner.

Lacet has raised approximately $3,800. His campaign manager, Jeff Durham, has participated as a volunteer in various campaigns. Lacet said he has an all-volunteer campaign but he did not have an exact headcount. He said he relies on individual constituent conversations to build enough support to win.

The Banner was unable to reach Williams by press time.

J.P., Roxbury and Dorchester district

In the eleventh Suffolk, 18-year incumbent Liz Malia serves as chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. She told the Banner that if re-elected she will continue her work around expanding access to substance abuse and mental health treatment — which has included requiring insurance companies to cover detox and step-down services —as well as efforts toward criminal justice reform, public safety and regulation of sober homes. Malia also highlighted legislation that repealed the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for nonviolent drug offenses.

Challenging here are Charles Clemons Jr., former Boston police officer and co-owner of TOUCH 106.1FM, and Stephen Charles Bedell, former attorney and current manager of a Cambridge restaurant.

Clemons told the Banner that, if elected, he would focus on increasing public school funding and affordable housing, raising pay to living wage standards and improving police-community relations, including advocating for body cameras and officers from the community. He made an unsuccessful bid for the District 7 City Council seat in 2015 (he took 32 percent of the vote according to Ballotpedia) and in 2013, ran for mayor.

Stephen Bedell, a political newcomer, is running on a progressive independent platform that includes better funding public schools and transit. He aims to raise the revenue through taxing wealthy nonprofits and making municipal fines and income taxes progressive, he told the Banner. Other items: improving bicycling infrastructure and advocating for body cameras and third-party oversight of police complaints.

Campaign in 11th Suffolk

Malia was unopposed in the 2014 primary. In January, her campaign had $9,200, according to filings with the OCPF. While she has since fundraised, she said she was unsure of the amount raised. Some of her funds also go to sponsoring community events, she said. Her partner, Rita, is helping to coordinate and has been involved in Malia’s past campaigns. Her current campaign has 10 to 15 volunteers and no paid staff.

Her outreach includes knocking on voters’ doors and engaging with traditional supporters as well as distributing signs and palm cards.

Clemons’ campaign comprises 50 volunteers and has raised $5,000 thus far, he told the Banner. Bill Wright is the campaign manager. Clemons and Bedell both said they believe Malia has poor name recognition among constituents, indicating a disconnect with voters. Clemons said he knocks on 100 to 300 doors a day.

Bedell has taken the position that he will not accept campaign contributions. Thus far, he has spent $1,200 to create a campaign website and print pamphlets, and said he can only afford one more print run.

He has six to seven volunteers and no paid staff. His friend David Maes is handling campaign reporting and filing.

Bedell’s outreach efforts include door-knocking. He said he has distributed 4,000 pamphlets in three months. He faces additional visibility challenges by being a third-party candidate, but said he believes there is a significant progressive population in Roxbury, JP and Roslindale that could be tapped. He anticipates needing 8,000 to 9,000 votes.

Three-way in Seventh Suffolk

In the Seventh Suffolk district, incumbent Gloria Fox is stepping down. Vying to replace her are Chynah Tyler, former aide to Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; Marydith Tuitt, chief of staff to Fox; and Monica Cannon, community liaison for the youth services organization Roca. The three were profiled by the Bann earlier this month in which they shared their personal perspectives and policy positions.