Monday, November 05, 2007

Mayor Menino Dangles a Toe Into A-B City Councilor Waters

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has not openly endorsed any candidate for Tuesday's election of a new Allston-Brighton District 9 City Councilor. Like any election campaign in the city, word constantly swirls about the neighborhoods, wondering if the Mayor is pulling strings behind the scenes for this candidate or that. Maybe some rumors are true, others not, but without a clear endorsement, the Mayor isn't making a major move to support his favorite candidate -- if he had one.

A week ago at the Brighton Main Streets annual gala, the Mayor spoke briefly about the race. He said that he wasn't making any endorsements, but then said of candidate Mark Ciommo, who was in the crowd, that he would do a great job if elected. Ciommo's opponent, Greg Glennon, wasn't there that night.

Is Ciommo the Mayor's candidate? He was asked this in the September 17, 2007 candidates forum, when two of the other candidates nominated him as the Mayor's candidate. (Both have subsequently endorsed Ciommo following the preliminary election.) Here's what Ciommo had to say:
QUESTION: Since the other candidates also closely associate you with the Mayor, is this a blessing or a curse?

CIOMMO: All I can say is that for the past 20 years in this community, I've been in an executive position for the better part of those 20 years working on the behalf of the citizens of this community -- first, as the assistant director of the Jackson-Mann Community Center, and for the past 14 years, at the Veronica Smith Senior Center. And I have to work with the Mayor. He helps provide services that I deliver to the seniors in Allston-Brighton. I have to work with the Mayor as president of Little League, to make sure our parks and playgrounds get cleaned and the fields get mowed. As a Hobart Park Neighborhood Association founding member, I had to work with the Mayor to re-design the park, organize a community build, find funding from the grounds funds to erect the ornamental fencing and the historical markers. So, I will work with the Mayor, but I've always been a strong and independent voice on behalf of the citizens of this community, and I will continue to be that as your next City Councilor.
I'm not sure that the Mayor makes sure that the grass in the parks gets mowed, but that's beside the point. Instead, Ciommo was eager to connect anything to he could between him and the Mayor -- even mowing the grass -- to make it look like he was working with the Mayor. Methinks Ciommo counts the Mayor's good words as a blessing, no matter how well the Mayor might pretend it is a non-endorsement. (wink-wink)

(In the City Councilor-At-Large race, it sounds like Councilor Stephen Murphy has received similarly nice words from the Mayor this weekend.)

Why hasn't the Mayor come out more strongly with a full-fledged endorsement of a candidate? One City Hall insider told me, "What's the upside?" After the Mayor endorsed a candidate in the East Boston special election for State Representative last month, and his candidate tanked, he must have been leery of making two bad endorsements in a row and looking like a liability. Another possibility is that the Mayor thought that Ciommo's position in the election is strong, and so he didn't need to intervene. Nonetheless, if a sitting Mayor can only think of downsides for endorsing a candidate, then how strong a position must the Mayor think he's in?

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