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Campaigns in full swing as Dominicans parade through Jamaica Plain

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990 and has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Campaigns in full swing as Dominicans parade through Jamaica Plain
Mayor Martin Walsh and 15th Suffolk District Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez cut the ribbon on the Dominican parade. Banner Photo

On Centre Street, the campaign offices for 15th Suffolk District Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez occupies prime office space.

A block away on Sheridan Street, 15th Suffolk District challenger Nika Elugardo is running a fierce campaign from her apartment, giving Sanchez his first serious challenge since he took office in the 2003 election.

“The Sanchez/Nika race is trench warfare, street-by-street,” says Jamaica Plain resident Ed Burley. “It’s that level of intensity.”

Sunday, as the Dominican Festival parade prepared to launch, much of that intensity was evident as supporters of the two candidates marched in the parade, along with other politicians including U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, Mayor Martin Walsh, state Rep. Liz Malia and City Councilor Matt O’Malley.

While Elugardo took a day off from campaigning to celebrate her daughter’s wedding — in what she says was her first break since January — her campaign kept up the intensity with canvassers hitting doors throughout the district, which includes parts of Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain and Brookline.

“We’ve been lucky to have a lot of supporters come out and knock doors for us,” says Elugardo’s campaign manager Cristina Aguilera Sandoval. “We’re trying to hit as many doors as we can.”

While a dozen volunteers, outfitted with the campaign’s blue-green T-shirts, marched in the parade, three shifts of volunteers were on doors, Sandoval said.

Sanchez, who has marched in the parade since he served as a community liaison for former Mayor Thomas Menino in the 1990s, enjoyed somewhat of a home-court advantage during the parade, which kicked off just steps from his campaign office.

As an incumbent, he marched at the front of the parade after the mayor and other elected officials pose for the ribbon cutting.

“Jeffrey is a progressive and a fighter,” says Walsh, who served with Sanchez in the House before he was elected mayor.

Walsh cites Sanchez’s leadership on immigration issues, affordable housing and fighting income inequality.

“That’s what we want in a state representative,” he said. “Somebody who understands the issues and hits the ground running.”

Elugardo, reached by phone on Monday, said she’s running against Sanchez’s record on immigration, education and environmental issues, citing progressive legislation in all three areas that was blocked by House leadership this year.

“Voters seem to agree with me that we need more leadership at a time when our government is in a leadership crisis,” she said.

Sanchez touts backing from Walsh — as have many of his staff volunteering on his campaign. Elugardo was endorsed by former state Rep. Mel King and former District 7 candidate Tito Jackson, who ran against Walsh in last year’s mayoral election.

Both campaigns have two weeks left to persuade voters before the Sept. 4 primary. While turnout is expected to be light — the primary comes the day after the Labor Day holiday — both campaigns are planning get-out-the-vote efforts. With at-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano for the 7th Congressional District seat, many voters in Jamaica Plain have received multiple door-knocks. South of Hyde Square, 11th Suffolk District Rep. Liz Malia is facing challenges from nonprofit executive Ture Turnbull and community activist Charles Clemmons Muhammad, adding to the political pressure in Jamaica Plain.

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