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Ricardo Arroyo announces run for Suffolk County district attorney

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Ricardo Arroyo announces run for Suffolk County district attorney
District 5 City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo announces his run for the Suffolk County District Attorney seat. BANNER PHOTO

Surrounded by elected officials and supporters in Roslindale Square on Tuesday, District 5 City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo announced he is running for Suffolk County District attorney.

Speaking to reporters, he positioned himself as a progressive and pledged to continue the criminal justice reforms instituted by former District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts last month.

“Former District Attorney Rachael Rollins led the way by bringing much needed reforms to this office,” Arroyo said. “We cannot afford to go backwards or stagnate. We must continue her reforms which have been proven to work and we must continue to move Suffolk County forward on criminal justice reform.”

Under Rollins, the office codified a list of misdemeanor crimes such as trespassing, drug possession and shoplifting that assistant district attorneys would not prosecute without authorization from a supervisor. Rollins argued that the move away from prosecuting such crimes would better enable her to target violent crimes.

Although Rollins’ list drew fire from police unions and the Baker administration, a 2021 analysis by a New York University researcher of 15 years of arrest records found significant reductions in recidivism: Defendants who weren’t prosecuted for low-level offenses had a 65% lower arrest rate for misdemeanor crimes over a two-year period and 75% lower arrest rate for felonies than those who were prosecuted for such crimes.

Arroyo, a former criminal defense attorney in Suffolk and Essex counties, helped Rollins develop the do-not-prosecute list.

He will likely face off in the Democratic primary against interim Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker in January to the seat vacated by Rollins.

While Arroyo’s campaign officially kicked off Tuesday, he appears to have been laying groundwork for the run for a while. He touted endorsements from state Reps. Nika Elugardo, Russell Holmes and Jon Santiago; City Councilors Tania Fernandes Anderson, Kendra Lara and Julia Mejia; former Boston Mayor Kim Janey; and former City Councilor Tito Jackson.

“As a public defender, Ricardo has fought for residents in our community struggling with addiction, mental illness, and homelessness: populations that are often underserved, unseen, and unheard,” Holmes said in a statement to news media. “I am certain that as our next Suffolk County district attorney he will see, hear, and serve everyone. He believes in inclusive leadership that lifts up the voices of all of us and not just those with access to power.”

Arroyo, Hayden and any other entrants to the race have seven months to assemble campaign teams, raise funds and get their messages out to the 250,000 or so Suffolk County residents likely to vote in this year’s September primary. Arroyo has raised $251,000 since he opened a campaign account in 2018 and had $89,000 on hand as of the Jan. 30 filing date.

Arroyo, the son of Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix D. Arroyo, grew up in Hyde Park and lives in that neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago. He was elected to the City Council in 2019.

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