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Get to know your city council candidates

Banner Staff
Get to know your city council candidates

AT-LARGE RACE

At-large councilors represent the entire city. There are eight candidates running for the four at-large seats. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. The information on the candidates presented here was culled from the candidates’ web pages or, in the absence of a web page, from LinkedIn, news reports or other sources.

Annissa Essaibi George, Michelle Wu and Erin Murphy BANNER PHOTO

Annissa Essaibi George, Michelle Wu and Erin Murphy BANNER PHOTO

Annissa Essaibi-George

Incumbent Annissa Essaibi-George is a daughter of immigrants and a proud first-generation American. Her dad, Ezzeddine, immigrated to the United States from Tunisia in 1972. Her mom, Barbara, was born in a Displaced Persons’ camp in Germany to Polish parents and came to the U.S. in the early 1950s.

Essaibi-George and her husband, Dorchester native Doug George, are the parents of four boys. Essaibi-George graduated from Boston Technical High School in 1991 where she first tasted political activism after being elected to the Boston Student Council and the Massachusetts State Student Council. In 1996, Essaibi-George earned her B.A. from Boston University in political science with a focus on international relations. She also earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

A former BPS high school teacher, Essaibi-George is the owner of Stitch House in Dorchester, a retail shop that sells yarn and fabrics and offers classes in knitting, sewing, quilting and crochet.

Michael Flaherty

Born and raised in Boston, Flaherty developed a passion for public service watching his father serve as a Massachusetts state representative. After graduating from BC High, Flaherty worked his way through Boston College and Boston University School of Law as a Local 25 Teamster. Following law school, Flaherty worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County. 

In 1999, Flaherty ran for the Boston City Council, first serving from 2000-2008, with five years as council president. After unsuccessfully challenging Mayor Thomas Menino, Flaherty focused on his law practice. He returned to the council in 2013.

Althea Garrison

A former clerk in the state comptroller’s office and former state representative, Garrison joined the council this year after former at-large Councilor Ayanna Pressley left her seat to join Congress. Garrison, who had finished in 5th place in the 2017 race for the four at-large seats, took her place.

David Halbert

Halbert honed his political skills working a staff member for elected officials including Boston City Councilors John Tobin and Sam Yoon and Governor Deval Patrick. He has volunteered with civic groups including East Boston Main Streets and the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. Halbert says his experience growing up the child of a single mother taught him the important role government plays in the lives of everyday people.

“Government provided a new career for my mom, one that brought us to Massachusetts,” he writes on his web page. “It gave my sisters and I educational opportunities from elementary school through college; and provided two of the three of us with careers in public service — just like our parents.”

Julia Mejia and Michael Flaherty BANNER PHOTO

Julia Mejia and Michael Flaherty BANNER PHOTO

Julia Mejia

Born in the Dominican Republic, Mejia arrived in the neighborhood of Dorchester when she was 5 years old. Raised by a single mother who was undocumented for most of her childhood, she began advocating at a young age on behalf of her mother and others who felt ignored and underserved by the very institutions that were supposed to serve them.

Mejia was the first in her family to graduate high school and college and first to purchase her own home in Boston. Mejia created and led a civic engagement group focused on voter registration, is the founder of a nonprofit education network and worked on national social justice campaigns as a producer for MTV. Mejia is a graduate of Dorchester High School and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Ida College. She lives in Dorchester with her daughter, Annalise and their little Shih-Tzu, Toby.

Erin Murphy

Murphy is a veteran BPS teacher and graduate of Emerge, a political organization that recruits, trains and provides a powerful network for women who want to run for office.

After raising awareness and more than $60,000 for recovery services to people struggling with addiction, she was honored with the James F. Gavin Award in 2015. In 2016, she received the Extraordinary Woman of Boston Award for her devotion to her community and in particular her passion to help individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness while supporting their families.

Alejandra St. Guillen and David Halbert BANNER PHOTO

Alejandra St. Guillen and David Halbert BANNER PHOTO

Alejandra St. Guillen

Born and raised in Mission Hill, St. Guillen graduated from Boston Latin School and is a City Year alumnus. She began her career as a public school teacher in New York City and Boston. She then served as the Director of ¿Oiste?, a Latino civic & political organization where she promoted economic justice and electoral reform public policy initiatives directly impacting communities of color statewide.

Most recently, St. Guillen served as the director of the City of Boston’s office for Immigrant Advancement, where she spearheaded new initiatives, including the Boston #toimmigrantswithlove Public Art Project and the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund.

St. Guillen holds a B.A. in economics and African-American studies from Wesleyan University and a M.Ed. from City College. She currently resides in West Roxbury with her wife, Josiane, their son, Jose Alejandro and their two rescues, Eva Luna and Ella Luz.

Michelle Wu

Growing up as the oldest of four children, Wu received a scholarship to study at Harvard College, where she fell in love with Boston. As a college student, she spent most of her free time volunteering in Boston’s Chinatown, taking the Red Line back and forth across the Charles River. After graduation, she moved to the North End and started working as a consultant in Boston’s Financial District.

Wu was admitted to Harvard Law School and brought her family with her to Boston. While studying, she helped her mom access the world-class health care in Boston, sent one sister to college and became legal guardian for her youngest sister, who graduated from Boston Public Schools.

Wu also worked in community advocacy, providing legal advice to low-income small business owners at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain and representing survivors of domestic violence in immigration law cases at Boston Medical Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership.

When she was elected to the Boston City Council in November 2013 at the age of 28, Wu became the first Asian-American woman to serve on the council. Her legislative work has focused on access to opportunity for residents of all backgrounds. She lives in Roslindale with her husband Conor, her three year-old son Blaise and her newborn son Cass.

DISTRICT RACES

The following is a list of races in which more than one candidate appears on the Nov. 5 ballot.

DISTRICT 4

Andrea Campbell

Andrea Campbell was first elected as the District 4 City Councilor in, 2015, representing primarily the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Mattapan, as well as parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain.

In her second term Campbell was elected Boston council president. She is the first African-American woman to serve in this role.

Born and raised in Boston, and educated in all Boston Public Schools, including Boston Latin School, Campbell went on to graduate from Princeton University and UCLA Law School. She began her career at a non-profit in Roxbury, providing free legal services to students and their parents on education matters, including school discipline and special education needs. She has worked as legal counsel in both the public and private sectors, and before embarking on her run for City Council, served as deputy legal counsel for Governor Deval Patrick.

Jeff Durham

Jeff Durham was born in New York City and raised in Roxbury. He  graduated from Madison Park High School and studied political science at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He is the father of three children and has lived in thein Codman Square section of Dorchester for the past 17 years.

Durham works as a consultant in lean manufacturing and is CEO of PERSONIFYD MEDIA Entertainment Consulting Group, a firm he co-founded.

DISTRICT 5

Ricardo Arroyo

Arroyo was born in Hyde Park where he was raised by his parents Felix D. Arroyo, a former Boston City Councilor and the current Register of Probate for Suffolk County, and Elsa Montano, a retired Boston Public Schools teacher.

Before launching his campaign last year, he worked as a Public Defender at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Arroyo attended the Boston Public Schools, holds a B.A. in History from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago.

Ricardo sits on the board of the National Lawyers Guild Massachusetts Chapter and is a member of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, NAACP and Mijente.

He currently resides in Hyde Park.

Maria Esdale Farrell

Farrell is a lifelong Bostonian who grew up in Hyde Park. For the past five years, she has served on the staff of Councilor Timothy McCarthy, serving as his education advisor. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater State University and has raised six children.

DISTRICT 7

Kim Janey

Janey grew up in the Highland Park section of Roxbury and spent much of her childhood at her great-grandmother’s house in the South End. She attended Boston Public Schools  and then attended the Reading Public Schools through the METCO program. She was one of two black students in her graduating class. She later attended Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar.

Janey began her advocacy career organizing for early education and child care before joining Massachusetts Advocates for Children, where she led efforts to advocate for systemic policy reforms that would ensure equity and excellence in education for students in Boston Public Schools, with a special focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color, immigrant children, students who are learning English, children with special needs and those living in poverty.

Janey was elected to the City Council after winning a 13-candidate race in 2017, and she is the first woman to represent District 7. She chairs the Council’s Committee on Small Business & Consumer Affairs and the Committee on Arts, Culture, & Special Events, and vice-chairs the Committee on Education and the Committee on Housing & Community Development.

Roy Owens

Owens is a pastor who has frequently run for office over the past three decades.

DISTRICT 8

Priscilla Kenzie Bok

Born and raised in Boston, Bok is an affordable housing expert and community leader. She is a vestry member at Trinity Church in Copley Square, a board member at the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) and the former chair of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee. She held a leadership role on the successful ballot initiative campaign to enact the Community Preservation Act in Boston in 2016 and helped draft the final CPA ordinance.

Most recently, Bok has been the senior advisor for policy and planning at the Boston Housing Authority, the city agency focused on the management, preservation and creation of low-income housing. She is also a lecturer at Harvard University, where she teaches a Justice in Housing course. Previously, she served as budget director for at-large Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George. Bok earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in 2011 and her Ph.D. in History from Cambridge University in 2016 as a Marshall Scholar. She currently lives in Beacon Hill.

Jennifer Nassour

Nassour grew up in Queens, New York and moved to Massachusetts after earning a J.D. from St. John’s Law School. A former head of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Nassour describes herself as a fiscal conservative and social progressive.

She most recently served as CEO of ReflectUS, a nonpartisan coalition of the nation’s leading women’s representation organizations working to increase the number of women in public office. She has also appeared on WGBH, WBUR, NECN, NBC in CommonWealth magazine and in other media outlets as a political commentator. She sits on the boards of MassINC, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, the UMass Women Into Leadership program and the Union Club of Boston.

DISTRICT 9

Councilor Mark Ciommo is not running for reelection. There are seven candidates for the open District 9 seat.

Liz Breadon

Breadon was born and grew up in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1995 and made Allston-Brighton her home. She worked on the campaign to secure the Presentation School building in Oak Square as a community resource, and together with neighborhood partners helped transform the building into the Presentation School Foundation Community Center. She also joined with neighbors in the fight to save the Faneuil branch of the Boston Public Library from closure — the campaign was a success and the library remains a vital part of the neighborhood.

Breadon works as a physical therapist and lives with her spouse Mary McCarthy. They are members of the Charles River Community Garden and the Brighton Garden Club.

Craig Cashman

Cashman grew up in the Allston/Brighton and attended St. Columbkille School. In 2014, after many years of declining enrollment in Allston Brighton Youth Hockey, Craig took over as president. Allston Brighton Youth Hockey is now a thriving program and still remains the most affordable in the greater Boston area.

In 2007, Cashman started working as a legislative aide for state Rep. Mike Moran. For the last 12 years, he has worked with residents of Allston Brighton on a host on neighborhood issues. Cashman has been the manager of the annual Allston Brighton Parade. He lives in Oak Square with his wife and two children.

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