Now that caucus season has come to an end, I am happy to report to my several readers a scanty few of my many observations. I attended Democratic caucuses in eight of Boston’s 22 wards throughout February and early March, and was pleased to see old friends and make new acquaintances. With a more active Massachusetts Democratic Party primary in 2018 than in many previous election years, the caucuses were well-attended. Where elections were necessary to select delegates, they were contested. Especially dramatic to watch were the discrete but open efforts taking place to elect certain “slates” of delegates: some committed to a particular candidate for statewide office; others consisting of ward committee members; and several being headed by Boston’s community organizer in chief – The Honorable Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Dorchester’s Ward 17.
In February and March of 2018, Massachusetts Democrats will meet in towns and wards across the state to elect delegates to the 2018 Democratic State Convention. Sometimes a sleepy affair, in years with competitive statewide races (for Governor or another of the Commonwealth’s several Constitutional Offices), the Convention is a critical hurdle for candidates hoping to appear on the Democratic Party’s September primary ballot. In order to do so, a candidate must receive the support of at least 15% of the delegates attending that year’s convention, usually held in June. In 2014, Governor Deval Patrick’s last year in office, there were initially five Democrat candidates seeking to succeed him. They were: Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, and Juliette Kayyem. Only three of five made it past the convention.
As the September preliminary election approaches, one indication of a competitive race is the “sign war” that may break out between leading candidates and their supporters. The war, which involves the placement of window & yard signs, as well as larger, 4’x8′ billboards, is an attempt to saturate a voting district with so many examples of a candidate’s brand that an indelible image is left in the minds of local residents, along with the information that image contains.
The most critical part of the brand is the candidate’s name: a good brand will create positive associations with that name, using colors, words, or graphic elements (which may be emphasized enough to become a logo). The only other element that almost certainly must be included is the office the candidate is seeking. While design decisions may best be left to professionals, an amateur can make a respectable showing in this department by using inexpensive computer programs and avoiding the errors of her competitors.
With the Puerto Rican parade kicking off this Sunday (if you plan to march with Marty, please assemble at the Hynes Convention Center at 10:30 AM), I thought it appropriate to expound on the grand old political tradition that is the municipal parade. The word itself is derived from the Latin verb Paro, parare (to prepare), and was transferred into English via a French noun meaning “show” or “display,” with a definite martial connotation. Besides being a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, a parade can serve more than one purpose for an active political campaign.
On Monday, June 26th, 3 months before the September preliminary election, I mailed thank-you notes to the voters I met while gathering signatures for Mayor Marty Walsh. After checking the 33 signatures on my sheet against a list of registered voters, I was able to confirm 26 voters as being registered at the address listed on the sheet, or about a 78% confirmation rate.
Tuesday was the last day of the signature gathering period, and I spent part of the afternoon gathering signatures for Annissa Essaibi-George, who is running for a second term as one of our four At-Large, or city-wide, City Councillors. She was elected in 2015 after also having run in 2013, the year Marty Walsh was elected Mayor of Boston. That year, 19 candidates made the At-Large ballot, necessitating a preliminary election. In September, Annissa placed 7th, well enough to advance to the general. In November, she finished 5th: not well enough to win, but a strong enough showing to position her for a successful re-match two years later. Like Marty, Annissa is from Dorchester. She has taught in the Boston Public Schools and has operated her own business, Stitch House, a knitting supply and service center in Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood.
On Monday morning, from about 8 to 9, I collected nomination signatures for Mayor Marty Walsh, at Stony Brook station on the Orange Line in JP. Stony Brook lies on the border between Ward 19, where I grew up, and Ward 11, where I now reside. Leaving my apartment just before 8, I realized that (as on every Monday morning) several sides of local streets were slated to be swept, and an inevitable few vehicles would fall victim to the merciless machinery of the state, in the form of the tow truck man.
In order to have your name placed on the ballot in Boston, for the offices of Mayor or City Councillor, you must “pull papers,” and gather signatures from registered voters who reside in the area you seek to represent.
If you wish to run for Mayor, you’ll need 3000 certified signatures; if you are running for one of the 4 City Councillor At-Large (city-wide) seats, you must gather 1500. If you’re interested in one of the 9 District City Councillor seats, you’ll have to return 200 signatures (fewer in some districts) to the Boston Elections Department, during the signature period, traditionally running from 9am on a spring Tuesday until 5pm on the Tuesday three weeks following.
I was happy to greet several local luminaries at this year’s Red Sox home opener, held at 2:05 pm on Monday, April 3rd at Fenway Park.
While not able to greet Marty Walsh personally, we exchanged long-distance nods through the netting that was extended to the dugouts before the 2016 season. He and his coterie were on the field to help with the opening ceremonies, which included appearances by New England Patriots and a flyover by two military aircraft at the end of the National Anthem.
Hello, and welcome to Sean for Boston.
2017 is a municipal election year. I hope you will join me in discussing the political issues, persons, and events that are important to the residents of our City.
Sicut Patribus Sit Deus Nobis : May God be with us, as He was with our fathers.