Farewell To Feeney

Maureen Feeney makes it official: she won't run for re-election to Boston City Council. This has been much-rumored, and a decision one way or another was expected by -- well, by today, when signature papers first become available for those seeking to run. So there it is.

Feeney, 63, has remained popular in her Dorchester district, even as it went through dramatic changes during her 17 years in office. She'll surely be missed. There will just as surely be an active battle to succeed her. The names I've been hearing most of late are Craig Galvin and John O'Toole. (Galvin will inevitably be seen as the "Michael Flaherty" candidate, with O'Toole as the "Menino guy" -- fairly or not.) Gin Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter is way out in front with other potential candidates.

Whoever wins that election will be the fifth new council member sworn in since the start of 2010, along with at-large councilors Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley, both elected in November 2009, and district councilors Matt O'Malley and Tito Jackson, elected in special elections since then.

In fact, assuming everyone else gets re-elected, Sal LaMattina -- councilor since 2006 -- will rank 5th in seniority on the 13-member council. LaMattina, Bill Linehan, Mark Ciommo, and John Connolly all first won their seats between '06 and '07. The four veterans are Rob Consalvo (2002), Mike Ross (1999), Stephen Murphy (1997), and ageless Charles Yancey (1983).

The large turnover, with nine new faces in six years, has been due to a variety of factors. Here's a breakdown of how the nine incumbents left:

2 Ran for mayor (Michael Flaherty, Sam Yoon)

4 Walked away (Maureen Feeney, Gerry McDermott, Paul Scapiccio, John Tobin)

1 Defeated for re-election (Felix D. Arroyo)

1 Died (Jimmy Kelly)

1 Expelled (Chuck Turner)

There's a certain amount of "up-or-out" mentality at work here -- Flaherty, McDermott, Scapiccio, Tobin and Yoon all left as relatively young men, with small children, all more or less because they didn't want to futz around on the City Council when better opportunities might lay elsewhere.

One other observation about this development. If in fact the race to succeed Feeney comes down to Galvin and O'Toole, then (assuming all others return) Ayanna Pressley would be the only woman on the council -- a fact that could help her if in fact Michael Flaherty enters the at-large race and threatens her re-election.

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