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Vote Yoon

It is time for Boston to debate its future
By EDITORIAL  |  September 17, 2009

Barring supernatural intervention next Tuesday, incumbent Thomas Menino is expected to top the ticket in Boston's four-candidate mayoral preliminary. The final vote will take place November 3.

With 16 years of executive service under his belt, Menino is the longest-serving mayor in the city's history. So it is no surprise that he is seen as the leader of the political pack.

Menino has not faced a vigorous challenge since 1993. This year, the focused and intelligent candidacies of City Councilors Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty, as well as the campaign of inspired maverick Kevin McCrea, have some voters thinking it is time for a change.

Even the city's two dailies lately seem to have shed their assumptions that Menino should be mayor for life.

With the national economy still in meltdown, and city finances likely to be even more painfully strained next year than they are now, Boston desperately needs a vigorous debate about how it will confront an uncertain future.

The Phoenix believes that Sam Yoon is best equipped to challenge Menino in November's final election.

Yoon and Menino are studies in contrast.

At age 39, Yoon is a member of a rising generation.

The child of Korean parents, having become a naturalized American citizen when he was 10 years old, Yoon identifies with the aspirations and challenges of the immigrant community that makes up an increasing portion of Boston's population.

Yoon's degrees from Princeton and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government have sensitized him to the importance of new ideas.

And Yoon's time spent as an urban public-school teacher and a community organizer, as well as his work in community development, demonstrates that he has the grit and determination to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.

The fact that he is the first Asian-American ever to be elected to a Boston citywide office demonstrates that Yoon can transcend the narrow preconceptions that on too many occasions still choke local political life.

As President Barack Obama has done in Washington, Yoon here at home offers reasonable hope that new people with new ideas can yield new results.

In more concrete terms, Yoon seeks to dismantle the Boston Redevelopment Authority, replacing it with a Department of Community Development and Planning. His "smart cap" plan would allow successful charter schools to serve more of Boston's students. And he is committed to creating jobs in the new "green economy."

Beyond specific proposals, Yoon has pledged to open up our stultified City Hall to transparent oversight, and to the bright, energetic minds of Boston's institutions. An advocate of term limitations, he has promised that, if elected, he would serve a maximum of two terms.

Yoon has captured the hearts of those who long for a change in Boston.

But if he is to be mayor, Yoon must first convince a majority of voters that he has the head for the job. Despite this newspaper's enthusiasm for his candidacy, we recognize that Yoon's electoral experience, while promising, is limited.

To capture the mayoralty, Yoon will have to offer more than ideas. He is going to have to speak to specifics and — perhaps most vexing of all — explain how he will pay for his programs.

Boston politics are notoriously bruising. A tough election is only a warm-up for the even tougher job of governing this cantankerous city.

Menino is a wily and capable incumbent. His long tenure — he has outlasted Mayors James Michael Curley, Kevin White, and Raymond Flynn in office — is built on the fact that people consistently underestimate him. They do so at their peril.

A race between Menino and Yoon should ensure voters have a real choice in November.

Vote for Sam Yoon in Tuesday's election.

Related: Can Sam Yoon win?, He's number three, Curb Your Enthusiasm, More more >
  Topics: The Editorial Page , Barack Obama, Elections and Voting, Politics,  More more >
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13 Comments / Add Comment


Nice.  Pick the guy with little experience.  Who never put in the time to build an organization in this city.

Pick the guy who claims to be an organizer yet has nothing to show for his time in community development.

Pick the guy who wants to cut spending by cutting jobs and increasing city unemployment.

Pick the guy who's best idea is doing studies. 

pick the guy who went to princeton, because, gee, that must mean he knows something.

Pick the guy who rips off of Obama's campaign everyday and doesn't have ideas for this city.

 Pick the guy who fundraises only from Asians in San Francisco.

Posted: September 16 2009 at 2:46 PM

Boston Bertie

 Good job Phoenix! Yoon is the man to take on Menino in November.

Posted: September 16 2009 at 2:50 PM

Ernie Torgersen

Sam Yoon does plenty for the City of Boston.  He does have a strong organization and also does plenty for our community development.  Camparing President Obama to any mayor in the country is comparing apples to oranges.  His fundraising efforts reach far beyond the Asian community in San Francisco.  His fundraising in Boston has done quite well.  His plan to dismantle the BRA is long over due, Mayor Menino should have done that years ago, they don't answer to anyone and the development of Boston shows it.  Boston City Hall is full of TMM croonies, it's time to take the trash out!

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:10 PM


Good choice.  Yoon's really catching fire at the right time.  Can't wait to see him go up against Menino.

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:11 PM


Yoon?  Resume thinner than Laura Flynn Boyle and a condescending manner at best.  His kimbayah approach to city government will add another layer to the bueracracy -  confusion.  He said in the debate that he go to Harvard and MIT for solutions.  THe people at the KSG almost took down Russian and lead the way for todays' strongman over there.  Yoon will be traveling on Tuesday back to Arlington, San Francisco or Washington on the next city on his resume.  Don't buy into this Obama references...its Jim Spenser on steroids...

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:27 PM


Excellent choice.  Pick the guy whose experience and world-view include but reach beyond politics -- and whose leadership will therefore reach beyond the small-mindedly political.  Pick the guy who will increase employment by reopening the city to meritocracy and by ending the bad old days of pay-to-play.  Pick the guy who will shine light on the development process and who will thereby promote smart, open, community-driven development.  Pick the thoughtful, hopeful choice for change.  Vote Yoon.

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:29 PM


Although I see your reasoning, Sam Yoon does not have the ability to beat Tom Menino head-to-head.  Michael Flaherty has it all.  He is a progressive candidate and will get votes from liberal areas of Boston.  He also has a large network of the old Boston, who know its time for a new leader. 

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:31 PM

Boston Bertie

progressivesouth: That is nonsense. Even the Flaherty camp agree that Sam Yoon is the stronger candidate in November to take Menino down.


Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:35 PM


progressivesouth:  You should review a certain previous article from this very publication regarding the identity of the candidate with the best chance to beat the mayor.  Hint:  Rhymes with "soon."  See you at the polls!

Posted: September 16 2009 at 3:56 PM


While I agree that Yoon offers a better alternative to Flaherty, the latter appears to have a broader support. It seems a moot point however, as neither Yoon nor Flaherty seem to be able to pose a realistic challenge to Menino. One question I have for Flaherty supporters - I can see how Yoon presents a real alternative to Menino, but how does Flaherty offer any change other than a different name? He may have a more polished appearance, but Menino has much deeper experience, allies and ties. Both have their share of questionable dealings, so I find it hard to believe that Flaherty would bring any real change there. Basically, my question is: "What reason is there to vote *for* Flaherty instead of *against* Menino?"
Posted: September 16 2009 at 4:16 PM
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