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Joel Richards running for District 3

Redistricting puts former District 4 candidate in Baker’s district

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Joel Richards running for District 3
Joel Richards COURTESY PHOTO

Boston schoolteacher Joel Richards announced Monday he will challenge District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker in next year’s municipal election, telling the Banner he wants to address issues including public education, the high cost of housing and public transportation in the city.

“I want to be a person who unifies people around these issues,” he said. “I want to fight for a Boston that works for all people.”

District 3 runs from the Neponset section of Dorchester to South Boston and includes several precincts in the South End.

Richards ran for the District 4 seat 2021, coming in third behind Councilor Brian Worrell and former state Rep. Evandro Carvalho.

This year, the redistricting process saw Richards’ Parkman Place home address move into District 3.

In Baker, Richards faces a formidable opponent. Elected in seven-way race for the seat in 2011, Baker has a strong campaign machine and, as of Nov. 30 had a campaign war chest of $87,673. Richards, who in his 2021 race raised $74,282, currently has no money in his campaign account.

Richards says he has learned from his first race how better to run a campaign. He says his campaign co-chairs — Dylan Capossela and Yousif Abdallah — bring experience that he lacked in his first race.

“This is a different team,” he said. “We know how to fundraise. We know how to knock on doors strategically.”

While Baker was elected by a coalition of white, Latino, Vietnamese and Black voters in 2011, his conservative-leaning stands on the Council may present Richards an opening to pick up progressive voters in the district, where from South Boston deep into Dorchester, traditionally conservative white working-class voters have been displaced by higher-income whites.

“The neighborhood has changed,” Richards says. “It’s a much more diverse district. In my last campaign, I built a coalition of people from different ages and backgrounds, and I’m going to capitalize on that.”

The redrawn District 3 is approximately 36% white, 19% Black, 17% Latino and 17% Asian, with one of the highest concentrations of Vietnamese Americans in the U.S. The Vietnamese population, in which older voters tend to lean conservative, could pose a challenge for Richards, who is a member of Democratic Socialists of America.

City Council candidates often begin their campaigns in November or December before the following year’s election to get a jump on fundraising and shore up support early on. West Roxbury resident William King has filed papers with the Office for Campaign and Public Finance for the District 6 seat currently held by Councilor Kendra Lara. King ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the Council in 2019, securing 1,811 votes in the city-wide race. In a text message Monday, he told the Banner he is still in conversation with family members about whether he will run.

“I will likely be making a final decision in the next couple weeks, but I have been overwhelmed by the outreach I have gotten across the district,” King wrote.

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