Turns out that city councilor -- and current council president -- Michael Ross will not get a free pass this year after all. A challenger has signed up to run against him in District 8, which includes Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and Mission Hill.
Oscar T. Brookins, an economics professor at Northeastern University, and long-time Boston resident, has filed to run. In a conversation this morning, Brookins cited three issues he intends to emphasize: achieving a "better balance" in how college students living in the district are treated, which he now believes leans too far toward harassment; opposing what he sees as a steady push, by Ross and others, to bring back a form of rent control, which Brookins opposes; and overdevelopment, or poorly planned development, which Brookins believes has led to an "unhealthy balance" of affordable and subsidized housing.
Brookins sees himself as part of a "serendipitous effect of several people of color running" in the city this year, but says he has not spoken with other African-American candidates. District 8 is roughly 70 percent white and non-Hispanic -- one of the highest rates among the nine council districts.
Whether Brookins can pose a credible challenge to Ross remains to be seen -- but a little competition is a healthy thing for an incumbent, and the district.