Turner walks through prelim, looks to Nov.
Faced with a choice between a well-connected political newcomer, a perennial candidate and a three-term incumbent, voters in District 7 last week chose the incumbent — City Councilor Chuck Turner — by a three-to-one margin.
Turner topped the preliminary ticket with 75 percent of the vote. Carlos Henriquez, legislative aide to City Councilor Michael Flaherty, came in a distant second with 15 percent, and Althea Garrison garnered just 7 percent of the vote.
“I’m happy that I was able to keep the support of three out of every four voters,” Turner said. “I think it’s a marvelous example of being able to turn out the vote in an election which had no coverage in the major media.”
While Henriquez garnered just 317 of the 1,949 ballots cast in the preliminary vote, he said he still has his sights set on victory in the Nov. 6 final election.
“It means we have a lot of work to do,” he said of Turner’s victory in the preliminary. “The challenge of going against a three-term incumbent is that you have to let people know that there’s a difference between you and the incumbent.”
The job of differentiating himself from Turner shouldn’t be too difficult. For starters, Henriquez is several decades younger than Turner and has a full head of hair. Turner’s red-and-white campaign signs feature the slogan, “Bold, bald and bright.”
In his three terms on the council, Turner has gained a reputation for principled stands in support of issues opposed by the council’s white majority, ranging from rent control to increasing funding for youth jobs.
The son of Boston Housing Authority Administrator and CEO Sandra Henriquez and community activist Julio Henriquez, Carlos says he has had to counter rumors that he was asked to run by Flaherty, who has frequently clashed with Turner on the council.
He also cites Team Unity, the caucus formed by Turner and the three other councilors of color on the 13-member body, as an impediment to his candidacy.
“It was interesting to see some of [Sam] Yoon’s volunteers manning the polls for Turner,” Henriquez said.
Turner’s supporters say it’s Turner’s popularity in District 7 that is the greatest impediment to challengers.
“If there’s one word to describe Chuck Turner, it’s ‘sincere,’” said political activist Louis Elisa. “He’s an honest, sincere person. You don’t find that often in a politician.”
Elisa, who worked a phone bank for Turner, said he’s known Turner through his activism since the early ’70s, when he was working to stop the extension of Interstate 95 through the Southwest Corridor. Henriquez, on the other hand, has far less experience.
“He hasn’t done anything up to now,” Elisa said. “I think it’s interesting that he’s running now.”
Henriquez serves on the boards of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and Boston Connects, a nonprofit that administers a federally funded job training program in Boston. He also serves on the advisory committee of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s ONEin3 initiative, designed to make life in Boston more engaging for people between the ages of 20 and 34.
Turner is a veteran organizer who uses his Dudley Square constituent services office as a convening space for numerous initiatives that have spun off of his work, including the Boston Workers Alliance, a group of community activists working to reform the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information system laws.
Henriquez’s campaign suffered a setback when his campaign manager left to work with the Barack Obama presidential campaign several weeks before the preliminary. Nevertheless, Henriquez expressed optimism about his candidacy.
“We don’t think it’s insurmountable,” he says. “It was a low-turnout day. A lot of people didn’t even know there was a primary.”
Turner said he’s not taking victory for granted on Nov. 6.
“We’re going to continue to do the caravans, stand-outs, leaflet distribution and phone calls to voters that have been the core of our campaigns,” he said.
|Chuck Turner had plenty to smile about after his victory in last week’s District 7 preliminary election. (Yawu Miller photo)
Carlos Henriquez, a legislative aide to City Councilor Michael Flaherty, came away with only 15 percent of the vote in last week’s preliminary election for the District 7 City Council seat held by incumbent Chuck Turner. (Photo courtesy of Carlos Henriquez)