Wednesday, May 16, 2007

District 2: One Decision, Two Undecided

The voters have decided who will be the next City Councilor in District 2, but two candidates who ran to succeed the late Jim Kelly are still considering whether to run for a full term later this year.

In yesterday’s results, the winner was Bill Linehan, a city official from South Boston, with 52.6% of the vote. Susan Passoni, a financial analyst from the South End, received 46.5%. As expected, Linehan carried all the precincts in South Boston, along with two neighboring precincts in Dorchester. Passoni carried all the precincts covering the South End, Chinatown, the Leather District, and Bay Village.

The most pronounced change in voting was in Chinatown, Ward 3, Precinct 8. In the preliminary election April 17, Linehan carried the precinct decisively, with 246 votes to Passoni’s 97. The difference between the two candidates in that precinct alone was greater than the spread between Linehan and the candidate with the most votes from South Boston, third-place finisher Ed Flynn. What made the result even more surprising was that Passoni had carried the precinct when she ran against Kelly in 2005. After this year’s preliminary, visitors to Linehan’s campaign website could find a testimonial from an influential Chinatown supporter, Frank Chin.

In the final election, the results from the same precinct were the other way around, with Passoni getting 52.1% of the vote. It’s also possible that Passoni, despite losing throughout the district, may have turned out more people who failed to vote in the preliminary. Short of proving this, it can be noted that, compared with the figures in April, the vote in precincts carried by Linehan increased by 6%, while the vote in precincts carried by Passoni increased by 42%. It’s also possible that Linehan found new voters in South Boston and Dorchester, while some people from those areas who voted for other candidates stayed home.

Even though candidates for City Council had to file for nomination papers by 5 p.m. the day of the special election, it’s still unclear how much opposition Linehan will face for his first full term later this year. As of this afternoon, Passoni was still undecided.

Also among those filing for papers in District 2 were two of the other five preliminary candidates from South Boston, Ed Flynn and Bob O’Shea. This afternoon, Flynn said he wanted to leave his options open. He said, “I’m very positive about finishing first in South Boston and finishing first in Dorchester.” Should he run against Linehan, he’ll be taking on a candidate who was endorsed for yesterday’s vote by all elected officials from South Boston.

By this afternoon, knowing that the incumbent would be from South Boston, O’Shea had decided against running. “There was enough division. We got a guy now. We’re going to get back to the business of governing and let this settle out,” he said. “I don’t want to go through that again, and I don’t think the neighborhood wants to go through it.”