Turnout of New Bostonians is key in another district preliminary later this month: District 2, where Suzanne Lee is the latest progressive to try to win the council seat that includes South Boston. The seat has been held by Bill Linehan since 2007.
It’s a tough assignment – Southie tends to show up to vote. But Lee, an educator, long-time community activist, and co-founder of the Chinese Progressive Association, would seem to have the right ingredients to improve upon attempts like those of South Ender Susan Passoni. Her resume is strong, she has been able to raise money and develop a strong cadre of volunteers, and she theoretically adds votes in Chinatown to a progressive base in South End – and a growing young, progressive contingent in South Boston.
She has been out canvassing in Southie, and says she’s getting a good reception. Her pitch on improving schools is impressive, and is backed by real results from running the Baldwin and Josiah Quincy schools. Plus, she says of South Boston, “people are concerned about whether they have a say in what goes on” in City Hall. “They’re tired of being pushed around.”
Unfortunately for Lee, there’s another candidate seeking the disaffected Southie vote. That’s Bob Ferrara, lifelong Southie resident who looked at running when the seat opened four years ago.
Ferrara is seen as Flaherty’s candidate – and the speculation is that Flaherty wants a hot Linehan-Ferrara showdown in November, to drive up turnout in South Boston, presumably boosting his own fortunes in the at-large election.
Whether or not that’s true, his presence figures to make it harder for Lee. On the other hand, if she does make it through the preliminary, the campaigning she’s doing in Southie now might give her the chance to convert Ferrara’s anti-Linehan votes to her side. Insiders doubt that she can overcome Linehan’s voter base, but the possibility has a lot of progressives fired up about the race.