City Hall domino effect

Sam Yoon starts the MayorMania
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  October 22, 2008

Political prospects are being reassessed inside the rumor-hungry walls of City Hall, all because of an invitation to a party 3000 miles away. 

A fundraiser for At-Large City Councilor Sam Yoon in Northern California was pitched by its hosts as a way to help elect Yoon “first Asian-American mayor of Boston.” One of the organizers posted the invite with those words to his personal blog, where it soon came to the attention of the Boston media.

Yoon fueled the fire by issuing a conspicuous non-denial — which he continues to stand by. “I haven’t made a decision,” he tells the Phoenix.

Some City Council insiders are convinced that Yoon has indeed decided to launch a mayoral bid. That complicates matters for fellow citywide councilor Michael Flaherty, who is widely believed to be planning his own campaign for mayor. Those same sources say Flaherty will run regardless of Yoon’s decision — though it would certainly affect his campaign strategy, and perhaps the timing of his final decision and announcement.

If Yoon and Flaherty both do take the plunge, that would create two openings among the four at-large seats — heightening interest in what is already likely to be an active City Council race.

Two candidates have announced their bids for next year’s at-large contest: Republican Doug Bennett, who works at the Suffolk criminal clerk’s office, and Haitian community organizer Jean-Claude Sanon. At least two others — Felix Arroyo Jr. and Tomas Gonzalez — are rumored to be considering campaigns. Meanwhile, the mayoral intrigue may be one contributing factor in district councilor Michael Ross having apparently lined up the votes needed to secure the presidency of the council next year.

The Phoenix has learned from several sources, including two councilors, that Ross has — at least for the moment — secured the necessary seven votes to succeed Maureen Feeney as leader of the 13-member body.

A rule adopted by the Council this past year, which limits councilors to two consecutive years as president, bars Feeney from retaining her post. Feeney has supported Steve Murphy to succeed her, with backing from Mayor Tom Menino, according to several sources. But Yoon and Flaherty are supporting Ross, say sources — some of whom speculate that the two mayoral hopefuls may believe the relatively independent Ross will give them a more open platform to conduct high-profile hearings critical of Menino’s administration. Others close to Ross strongly deny any such arrangement. (Yoon would not confirm for the Phoenix whether he has committed his vote, or to whom.)

Ross also has the support of John Tobin, John Connolly, and Chuck Turner, sources say. To get their seventh vote, they convinced freshman councilor Mark Ciommo of Allston-Brighton this past week to join them — with help from leaders of Brighton’s Russian Jewish population who were eager to see Ross become the first Jewish Council president.

Menino is said to be unhappy with the development, and to now be pushing for Rob Consalvo as an alternative. Consalvo, a close Menino ally, is another councilor with well-known mayoral ambitions — and is thus considered unlikely to get the needed votes in a chamber filled with those gunning for the same higher office, just as next year’s campaigning gets underway.

Related: Malign neglect, Can Sam Yoon win?, He's number three, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Politics, Local Politics, Tom Menino,  More more >
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