Charlotte Golar Richie shed her sometimes reserved demeanor on Wednesday night, dancing her way to the podium inside Hibernian Hall and pitching her candidacy to a friendly crowd of several hundred supporters.
Before her speech, pictures of her and Mayor Thomas Menino, the man she’s hoping to succeed, were projected onto a screen above the podium — featuring candid shots of the pair during her tenure as his housing chief. Members of Team Menino, like Darryl Smith, a top operative for the mayor in Mattapan and Dorchester, circulated through the crowd.
Three months earlier, a small group of neighbors and friends trouped into Golar Richie’s home on Meetinghouse Hill, where she quietly announced her run for mayor.
Since then, her campaign has largely flown under the radar as she and eleven others have jockeyed for attention. Political observers – on other campaigns and on the sidelines – have described a lackluster effort and pointed to small fundraising hauls. The campaign’s goal was to raise $200,000 in July, but the finance chair Clayton Turnbull told the Reporter on Wednesday night they had raised around $80,000. The campaign told the Boston Globe that the figure is $66,000.
The campaign is showing signs of ramping up, with offices opening in Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roxbury, Hyde Park, East Boston and Jamaica Plain.
At Hibernian Hall, Golar Richie made her way to the stage to the Diana Ross tune of “I’m Coming Out,” joined by her husband, Winston, and daughters Leigh and Kara. “I’m in this race for mayor ‘cause I love this city, I have a long history in this city, I’ve raised my children in this city, and I’ve helped to build this city,” she said to applause.
A former state representative from Dorchester’s ward 15, Golar Richie added: “In 2013, Boston is a much more open, accessible, welcoming city, than it was when I first entered politics in 1994. And I see us as a city united in tackling problems ranging from the complex, seemingly intractable issue of gun violence to the problem of inequity in our schools.”
Golar Richie said the 57,000 students in the Boston Public Schools will be her “first priority” and pledged to establish an Office of Youth Affairs in her administration.
She also said she would legally strengthen the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, which requests that companies hire minorities, women and local residents at publicly-funded construction sites. The guidelines have drawn criticism from neighborhood watchdogs, who say they often see out-of-towners and New Hampshire license plates at sites in minority neighborhoods with high unemployment rates.
Friends, neighbors and supporters like Davida Andelman spoke before Golar Richie took the stage, outlining why they were backing her.
Pablo Calderon, a MBTA employee, told the crowd he had been asked why he isn’t supporting a Latino candidate for mayor, an apparent reference to City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo. Calderon said he believes she is the "best" candidate.
"She is the most qualified person to move the city forward and represent all of us," added state Rep. Michael Moran, a Brighton Democrat.
Darnell Williams, the CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, which has its headquarters around the corner from Hibernian Hall, was in the audience. Williams, who has personally donated $100 to Golar Richie’s campaign, said the Urban League, a nonprofit, isn’t endorsing anybody in the mayor’s race.
Asked if the communities of color will unite behind a single candidate, Williams said, “The key is we’ve got to put everybody in the same room.”
But, he added, it could be too late. “Everybody’s name is on the ballot,” Williams said.