Women considering potential bids for council seats

Conversations on the prospects for next year's city council race rarely fail to come to the question of gender equity. Only one female - Dorchester's own district three councillor Maureen Feeney - currently holds elected office in City Hall, though women make up over half of the city's population.

This seeming strategic advantage for one or more women in Election 2009 is finally drawing a few qualified candidates out of the woodwork.

In Dorchester, three women who are familiar with Boston's political scene are carefully contemplating what they could bring to the race, and just how much money they can raise.

Hailing from Melville Park, public health advocate April Taylor is running from meeting to meeting, inquiring after potential sources of support and political wisdom.

In Adams Village Nurys Camargo, who ran formerly community relations for District Attorney Dan Conley and ran the North Shore for the Obama campaign, said she is also considering a run.

And in Savin Hill, Catherine O'Neill, host of The Boston Connection on BNN and formerly a member of Mayor Thomas Menino's neighborhood services team, is waiting to see if councillors Michael Flaherty or Sam Yoon - or both - vacate their seats to run for mayor next year.

On the tails of one of the longest, hardest-fought, and inspiring presidential elections in recent history, it is becoming clearer that 2009 could bring out a bevy of contenders for the council. An announcement from Flaherty or Yoon may pull open the floodgates.

"We have a good momentum right now… with everything, even the state of Mass. and Boston being where it's at right now and all things that are happening the city," said Camargo this week.

"I think a lot of us women who are in the public field probably think about it, maybe don't voice it for whatever - 'we're not ready,' or 'were just thinking about it,' or 'what if,' and 'who do I talk to,' or 'who are my allies.'"

Camargo was also on Tomas Gonzalez's short list for campaign manager.

"I was hoping," he said this week. "Now I'm encouraging her as well."

Gonzalez himself still hasn't decided whether he is in the at-Large race or not.

"There is a strong possibility I'm going to run," said April Taylor, who lives inside Councillor Charles Yancey's District 4. "But I can't decide which one [to run for] yet. I haven't entertained all the options."

Taylor was director of a program at the Boston Public Health Commission that examined racial disparities for elders, is a fellow at tufts in planning and policy focusing on environmental and social issues, and sits as vice-chair on the board at Health Care for All. She also ran a successful phone bank for Obama at SEIU 1199 on Columbia Point, and has complete the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership program as well as Emerge Massachusetts's leadership training program.

She said she's interested in the council to see "how we can create policies that enhance the life of people."

O'Neill also made it clear she'd do some serious calculations if current representation on the council was shaken up.

"If there were an opening I would think about it," said O'Neill. "I'm honored to even be asked by people. If there's not an opening, I think we have very good representation at-Large."



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