Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Politics in Boston

Several political races are heating up around Boston, if you know where to look.

City Council at-large candidate Andrew Kenneally stopped by a meeting of the newly formed Boston chapter of the Young Massachusetts Democrats last month. He spoke for about 10 minutes on a variety of topics, including the MBTA (which I think is interesting given the MBTA is run by the state) and initiatives to make Boston greener. I asked him about the oft-derided Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, where non-profit institutions make a donation to the City to offset the fact they don't have to pay property tax. Kenneally mentioned he supports the Mayor's recently created task force to study the issue.

Kenneally and two other at-large city council candidates, Tomas Gonzalez and Scotland Willis, visited my Ward 5 Democratic Committee last month. Chairman Rob Whitney graciously gave them the chance to address the group.

The Mayor's race in Boston is also heating up. In late February, I attended a Meet the Mayor event where I got a chance to have bagels and muffins with Mayor Tom Menino, who still hasn't decided if he's running for re-election (though many, including myself, hope he does). What was neat about the event was the Mayor was chatting with younger Boston residents (I was sadly among the oldest), and he spoke with a passion as if he were running for office for the first time.

I received an email this week from someone working for one of the declared candidates for Mayor, Michael Flaherty. She appeared to have sent the note to the entire Ward 5 Democratic Committee, asking us if we wanted to get involved with the campaign. What I find amazing is that it's April, and she's asking about a city race that won't have an election until September (when the preliminary will be scheduled). My Ward 5 committee won't take an endorsement vote in the Mayoral race until after Labor Day. Then again, I heard from another politically minded Boston resident that turnout for the preliminary might eclipse 100,000. In Boston, that's a ton. I guess things are heating up.

By far the most intriguing campaign so far is being run by the young Doug Bennett, the Republican from Nantucket, who is also running for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council. While his efforts are noteworthy, I haven't quite figured Doug out. He launched an "entertaining" YouTube video recently, set to John Cougar's "Ain't that America." He also says he's going to knock on 100,000 doors across Boston, which I admit is admirable. However, last Saturday, while I was watching the Final Four on CBS, he left a flier on my mailbox (I know it was for me as it had my specific apartment number on it). The problem is I was clearly at home and he didn't ring the buzzer. Does he count that as a door knock?

Enjoy Doug's video below. And happy Saturday.

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