There has not been much discussion about the election for Dorchester and Mattapan’s District 4 city council seat in the run-up to next Tuesday. The city council at-large contest has proven more compelling for a variety of reasons, including the fact that there are several intriguing first-time candidates, including three from Dorchester.
We have made it a point to publish profiles of each of the eight finalists— including the four, incumbent at-large councillors— to help inform the electorate about their choices next week.
But, there is a challenger facing District 4 incumbent Andrea Campbell, who is also the sitting council president. Jeff Durham, a Codman Square entrepreneur who has been active in city and state electoral politics behind-the-scenes, has thrown his own hat in the ring this time.
Durham has offered up a general critique of Campbell that frames her as disconnected from the district. In his campaign announcement, he described her as “an elitist whose focus is with the downtown power structure and the outside-of-the-district donors who have funded her incumbency.”
That statement just doesn’t ring true from our vantage point. In fact, Campbell has championed the kind of granular, community-building, block-by-block organizing that she promised to deliver when she mounted an insurgent campaign to replace longtime incumbent Charles C. Yancey in 2015.
She has been impressive in every regard since taking office. She is accessible, collaborative, engaged, and innovative, and has sought to hire young people who are animated by similar traits.
Some of Campbell’s more impressive initiatives include:
• An ongoing project in partnership with Wentworth Institute of Technology to catalogue vacant lots in District 4 and engage residents and urban planners in coming up with new uses;
• A first-ever jazz and unity festival in Mattapan, which she created and staged earlier this year;
• The publication of her own “Action for Boston Children” plan that is focused on improvements in the Boston Public Schools;
• Her series of community meetings themed as “Constructing Peaceful Communities,” which seeks to convene residents, police and officials on public safety issues;
• Strong advocacy within the council to promote and monitor the roll-out of body-worn cameras by the Boston Police Department;
• A planned Boston Civic Leaders Summit next month at the JFK Library, at which Campbell seeks to have civic leaders from across Boston discuss best practices and their evolving role in a rapidly changing Boston.
The list of Campbell’s innovations in communicating and in convening Bostonians — both in District 4 and across the city — is long and impressive, particularly for a district councillor. She has certainly earned another term as the councillor from District 4 and the Reporter is pleased to endorse her.
In District 5, which includes a large section of Mattapan— in addition to Hyde Park and Roslindale— there is a more competitive contest between two first-time candidates: Ricardo Arroyo and Maria Esdale Farrell. Both candidates for this open seat— it’s being vacated by Councillor Tim McCarthy— have good qualities. But Arroyo, who led the balloting in September in a crowded field, is the better choice. He is an attorney and public defender with a keen understanding of city government’s role in the day-to-day lives of his constituents. Tellingly, he has received the endorsement of almost all of the other candidates who did not make the cut in September. Ricardo Arroyo would be a welcome addition to next year’s council.