CHALK ONE UP for the goo-goos. Actually chalk two up.
The term came into use in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a reference to good government reformers who were looking to rid municipal government of corruption. In yesterday’s Boston city election, the modern-day goo-goos decided they’d seen enough and tossed two incumbent city councilors, Ricardo Arroyo and Kendra Lara, out of office.
Both had been dragged down by questions about their behavior and, in Arroyo’s case, ethics, but the drubbing each received was striking, with the two left-leaning councilors both finishing third in preliminary races in which the top two finishers advance to the November final election.
Arroyo, a second term councilor from Hyde Park, has faced questions about his interactions with then-US Attorney Rachael Rollins, who resigned following two reports showing she improperly tried to influence the 2022 Suffolk district attorney’s race in his favor. He also paid a $3,000 fine for an ethics violation, and was dogged by years-old accusations of sexual assault – which he denied and for which he was never charged.
Lara, who represents Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, has faced withering fallout from a June incident in which she crashed a car into a Jamaica Plain house while driving an unregistered car without a valid driver’s license.
Both Arroyo and Lara had urged voters to judge them on their zealous work to advance progressive policies, not incidents that may have reflected moments of bad judgment. But voters may have decided they didn’t need to choose between those factors.
If there was a template for how yesterday’s races played out it might be found 15 years ago, in 2008, when veteran Roxbury state senator Dianne Wilkerson was ousted in a Democratic primary by Sonia Chang-Diaz.
Wilkerson was a smart and forceful voice for progressive causes but had been dogged by a string of campaign finance and tax violations, which included a six-month home confinement sentence on federal tax charges. On the campaign trail, Chang-Diaz pounded away with a consistent message to voters drawn to Wilkerson’s fearless politics: You don’t have to choose between vigorous advocacy for progressive policies and high ethical standards – with me you get both.
As in that race, voters committed to progressive causes had choices when they went to the polls yesterday besides the tarnished incumbents on their ballot.
In District 5, Hyde Park activist Enrique Pepén – who had the backing of Mayor Michelle Wu – appeared to win over left-leaning voters who helped Arroyo win office four years ago. He placed first and will face retired Boston police officer Jose Ruiz in the November final.
Meanwhile, in District 6, workers’ rights lawyer Ben Weber rolled over Lara in the progressive Jamaica Plain precincts that had been her base on his way to a first-place finish. He’ll go up against IT manager William King of West Roxbury, who placed second, in November.
Arroyo and Lara made history by becoming the first incumbent councilors to not even get past the preliminary election since Boston put in place its current configuration of nine district and four at-large council seats in 1983.
With a reputation for bare-knuckle machine politics, Boston has had a mixed history when it comes to tolerance for politicians with checkered records. It was, after all, in the era of the original reform-minded “goo-goos” in the early 1900s that James Michael Curley was famously elected to a seat on the board of aldermen (the predecessor to today’s City Council) from a prison cell.
He went on to serve four terms as mayor (the last of which included another stint behind bars).
As beloved as Curley was at the height of his power, voters eventually tired of his antics, and he, too, holds an unenviable place in Boston electoral history: His loss in 1949 stands as the last time an incumbent mayor was turned out of office.
Thumbs down on the T: Riders are very dissatisfied with the T, according to a new poll. No T service was rated good or excellent by more than half of those polled, and the slow-zone plagued subway system garnered good or excellent reviews from only 28 percent, while 27 percent said service was poor and 35 percent rated it fair.
– Riders have mixed views about the turnaround efforts at the T and the only strategies to lure riders back that drew much interest were making the T free and improving reliability. The poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group in mid-August for the Barr Foundation. Read more.
Concerned about Immigration: Massachusetts residents are suddenly concerned about immigration, presumably because of the ongoing debate about the state’s right-to-shelter law and the strains it is facing amid an influx of migrants. Asked in a poll the most important issue facing Massachusetts right now, 10 percent said immigration, up from 2 percent in polls earlier this year and last year. Immigration ranked behind housing, cost of living, and the economy/jobs. Read more.
Physician shortage: Barbara Spivak of the Massachusetts Medical Society says radical measures are needed to address a physician shortage. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Williamsburg’s Paul Jahnige is named the state’s first outdoor recreation chief. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Clean-up is underway after heavy flooding in Leominster, with Gov. Maura Healey calling for federal aid to deal with the widespread damage. (Worcester Telegram) The Worcester mayor and the governor have both declared states of emergency due to the flooding.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says she might just pull the plug on a new police union contract if arbitration doesn’t yield at least some of the reforms she is seeking. (GBH)
The Globe takes a deep-dive look at Peter Faneuil, the 18th century merchant whose name adorns the famous meeting hall he donated to the city, but whose legacy also includes a major role in the slave trade.
Most of the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard in a conservative political stunt returned to the island, at the invitation of residents, to mark the one-year anniversary of their arrival. (Cape Cod Times)
The Boston Herald, which stoked talk about a possible early exit from office by Mayor Michelle Wu with a story last week suggesting she could be in talks for a job at Harvard, reports that Wu flatly denied in a radio appearance yesterday that she would consider leaving office for any position before her term is up. (Boston Herald)
Nurses at the MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham will soon vote to join the Massachusetts Nurses Association union. (MetroWest Daily News)
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launches an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. (NPR)
An eventful Boston preliminary race concluded with two incumbents – the embattled Kendra Lara and Ricardo Arroyo – ousted, and departing district Councilor Frank Baker’s endorsed successor John FitzGerald set to head through to the general election alongside teacher Joel Richards. (Dorchester Reporter)
WBUR has preliminary election results from Springfield, Haverhill, Waltham, Newton, and Peabody. (WBUR)
State election officials are being pressured to keep Donald Trump off the ballot because of his role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. (Salem News)
Cambridge biotech company 2Seventy Bio is laying off 40 percent of its workforce. (Boston Globe)
The director of Harvard Art Museums, Martha Tedeschi, is stepping down after seven years on the job. (Harvard Crimson)
The state’s two US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, penned a letter to the heads of the MBTA and state Department of Public Utilities demanding answers on the system’s safety issues and ongoing sluggish service. (Boston Globe)
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is launching a new nonprofit news website to rival the Worcester Telegram & Gazette – committing $50,000 so far to the new Worcester Guardian. Though no reporters or editors have yet been announced, the former editor of the Telegram, Dave Nordman, has been named as an advisor in the launch of the Guardian. (Boston Business Journal) Dan Kennedy weighs in on the business model. (Media Nation)