Exclusive: Sam Yoon Leaving Boston

Sam Yoon, former Boston City Councilor and 2009 mayoral candidate, is moving to the Washington, DC area -- a move, he tells the Phoenix, that comes in part from the sense that he is "radioactive" for potential employers in Boston.

Yoon, 40, has accepted a position as executive director of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) in Washington -- a return to the community-development work he was in prior to winning election in 2005. He is in the process of moving to Falls Church, Virginia, with his wife and two children.

Currently in Dorchester, Yoon has lived in greater Boston since 1993, when he arrived for graduate studies at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He finished third in the 2009 mayoral preliminary, and then campaigned for Michael Flaherty as his "deputy mayor" running-mate against Mayor Tom Menino.

Although he does not accuse Menino or his administration of working to prevent anyone from hiring him, Yoon says that the types of organizations that he has discussed working for in the Boston area -- organizations that all rely on good relationships with local officials -- have expressed concerns. "I kept getting the feedback that my having run against the incumbent was not going to open doors for me," Yoon says. "People's perception became reality."

His move from the area takes Yoon off the list of potential candidates for mayor in 2013; he was also considered a possible contender for a Congressional seat if it became available.

He now exits the Boston political scene almost as suddenly as he entered it five years ago, when he ran for councilor as a virtual unknown. He quickly became one of the city's leading progressive politicians, and an advocate for a more active City Council. 

Now, in his absence, the Council has recently emerged as the more aggressive presence that Yoon frequently advocated -- most particularly through its involvement with the recent firefighter contract controversy. "I am very proud of the Council, as a citizen," Yoon says, "and as a former councilor, who has been saying that the council needs to assert its power and authority as a check and balance to the power of the mayor."

That change, he thinks, may in some part be attributable to "the [mayoral] campaign, and the issues that we raised about the strong mayoral system."

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