VIDEO: Boston Mayoral Position is Fair Game

By Taylor Walker
BU News Service

BEACON HILL—Mayor Thomas Menino’s decision to retire from his two-decade reign has triggered a mass of speculation from past mayoral candidates and politically interested locals here about who will contest for the city’s top office.

Menino’s announcement last week not to seek reelection has jarred the Commonwealth, but failed to shock some past mayoral contenders who are now interested in the positive moves a new generation of leaders could bring to the city. Larry DiCara, a former city commissioner who ran for mayor in 1983 when Kevin White ended his incumbency, said he is optimistic about who will enter the ring in the election, which will take place in November.

“Anybody can be the next mayor,” said DiCara during an interview at his Summer St. office. “The race is wide open, and that is very healthy for democracy.”

DiCara said the vast majority of political analysts expect a large and diverse field of candidates to enter the pool with already declared candidates City Councilor John Connolly, State Representative Martin J. Walsh and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

DiCara, who is partner at law firm Nixon Peabody LLP, added that he is particularly interested in the prospects of female candidates.

“We have never had a female mayor,” said DiCara. “Maybe it’s time.”

City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley of Dorchester and state senate candidate Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester are among the many candidates that DiCara said he hopes will enter the race. State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz of Jamaica Plain, who DiCara also referenced on his list of “potentials,” tweeted Wednesday that she does not intend to run.

Beacon Hill storeowner Lou Desautels is akin to DiCara’s view that the time is ripe for female city leadership and said he holds the recent election of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as a catalyst for his belief.

Meanwhile, Desautels, 71, is also among many on the Hill rallying for Boston City Councilor Mike Ross to announce his candidacy. Michelle Snyder, a spokesperson for Mike Ross, said in an email that he is giving “a hard look” at the mayoral position.

Gail Bray, a longtime employee at Gary’s Drug Co. here, said he hopes the next representative elected will maintain the same standards of transparency that Menino has.

“It could be anyone’s game,” said Bray. “Male or female, the best person will win.”

The free-for-all nature of the coming election marks the first open-race since DiCara’s candidacy. The mayoral election of 1983 is considered among Bostonians as one of the most contentious races in the city’s history, a period of robust grassroots advocacy.

Mel King, an urban affairs professor at MIT, also sought the mayoral position back in 1983 and became the first black candidate to final in the city’s race. King said in an interview that this election he is particularly looking for someone who would attack the heart of the city’s zoning and education disparities without hesitation.

“It doesn’t make any difference what the agenda, background, race, or gender is,” said the 84-year-old activist for educational changes in Boston. “I believe the city needs a lot of different voices expressing how to deal with issues that are significant.”

Terry Wells, 51, a Jamaica Plain resident who volunteered on King’s campaign for mayor, said in a phone conversation that he is excited about the resurrection of an open race in the city. Wells said it is time for new blood to captain city hall.

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