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Arroyo gets nod from challengers

Endorsements point to racial divide in district

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Arroyo gets nod from challengers
District 5 candidate Ricardo Arroyo and endorsers (l-r) state Rep. Russell Holmes, Jean Claude Sanon, Celcily Graham, Justin Murad, Yves Mary Jean and his father, Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo. BANNER PHOTO

When the dust settled on the preliminary balloting for the District 5 City Council seat soon to be vacated by Timothy McCarthy, the eight-way race was whittled down to two candidates: Ricardo Arroyo and Maria Esdale Farrell.

Saturday, five of the candidates who did not make the cut rallied around Arroyo during an endorsement announcement in Mattapan Square. Tuesday, Arroyo picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, the state’s most prominent black politician.

“I know, firsthand, the power of the Boston City Council to improve the lives of residents, and I believe in the power of leaders who listen and lift up the voices of their communities,” Pressley said in a statement sent to news media. “Ricardo is that kind of leader.”

The five former opponents endorsing Arroyo are Jean-Claude Sanon, Cecily Graham, Alkia Powell, Yves Mary Jean and Justin Murad.

The endorsements from Arroyo’s former opponents points to the changing demographics of District 5, which includes Hyde Park and parts of Roslindale and Mattapan. If Arroyo wins, he would be the first non-white representative of the district, which in the past has been represented by Rob Consalvo, former Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley and Thomas Menino, who went on to become mayor.

Although Farrell has not listed political endorsements on her campaign website, in a brief phone conversation with the Banner, she acknowledged she has been endorsed by politicians, but would not say who.

“I haven’t posted political endorsements on my web page,” she said.

In a post from Tim McCarthy’s Facebook page the day before the Sept. 24 preliminary, Farrell appears with a Who’s Who of white Hyde Park politicians: McCarthy, Consalvo, Suffolk County Register of Deeds Steve Murphy and state Rep. Angelo Scaccia.

In contrast, Arroyo’s in-district endorsements have come almost entirely from politicians of color: Holmes, Pressley, at-large Councilor Michelle Wu and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins.

The political balance of power in the district has traditionally favored white candidates. In the 2013 race in which McCarthy was elected, he bested a field of eight candidates including two who were black.

But in this year’s preliminary, Arroyo bested a field that included three white candidates and four candidates of color. Her garnered 2,235 votes to Farrell’s 1,813 votes.

“This district has been a majority-minority district for years,” former candidate Sanon said. “It’s about time we take control of this district by electing someone who is like us.”

Most of those who endorsed Arroyo said they did so in support of his change-oriented agenda.

“We want the people who live here to be able to stay here,” said state Rep. Russell Holmes, who endorsed Arroyo prior to the preliminary. “We need a strong progressive voice in District 5.”

Arroyo said he and the other candidates are aligned on the issues that matter the most to the district.

“Everybody here understands that this is bigger than us,” he said. “This is about people in the district who are trying to figure out how they can afford a home, how they can navigate the system. We’re going to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. That people understand that their voice matters to us, that their voice matters to city government.”

On her campaign web page, Farrell does list endorsements from 16 building trades unions the Boston Public Schools Custodians Local 1952 and the EMS Division of the Boston Police and Patrolman’s Association.

Farrell’s building trades endorsements have given her a modest boost. She’s taken in more than $4,000 from the unions. But in the last two weeks of September, she received a $27,395 haul that included 16 contributions from donors who maxed out at the $1,000 limit.

Money aside, Farrell may face an uphill battle if she is unable to grow her reach into predominantly black and Latino precincts in District 5.

The candidates of color garnered 4,485 votes to the 3,065 votes garnered by white candidates. Together, the candidates of color won 22 precincts, whereas Farrell won just seven, concentrated mainly in the Readville and Fairmount sections of Hyde Park.

At-large race

In the race for the four at-large seats, Julia Mejia announced endorsements from former at-large candidates Priscilla Flint-Banks, Domingos DaRosa, Michel Denis and William King, as well as District 5 candidate Cecily Graham and District 9 candidate Lee Nave.

“It really speaks to the fact that I’m the last community organizer still standing,” Mejia told the Banner. “To have my colleagues endorse me speaks volumes to my commitment to continue to uplift issues impacting black and brown communities.”

As one of eight finalists in the at-large race, Mejia finished in fifth place with 10,799 votes, ahead of incumbent Althea Garrison and just behind Alejandra St. Guillen, who had 11,910 votes. Mejia polled stronger in predominantly black and Latino precincts across the city than did other top-tier candidates. If black and Latino voters turn out in higher percentages in the Nov. 5 election, their votes could propel Mejia into one of the four at-large seats.