About this story
Boston Globe reporters spent Thursday — from before dawn until midnight — chronicling the 11 candidates who are actively campaigning for mayor. Some candidates allowed reporters to follow them into their homes and inside their campaign vehicles, while others who would not agree to that level of access were observed at public events.
The story was reported and written by Andrew Ryan, Maria Cramer, Meghan E. Irons, Akilah Johnson, Wesley Lowery, and Maria Sacchetti of the Globe staff, and Globe correspondents Dan Adams, Jarret Bencks, Todd Feathers, Jeremy C. Fox, and Zachary T. Sampson.
The front door opens in darkness, light spilling onto the sidewalk. Felix G. Arroyo steps outside his Jamaica Plain home wearing a striped navy suit and green tie. He’s bound for a school bus yard, hunting for votes for mayor.
In Hyde Park, a white van plastered with “All in for Boston” campaign placards idles in a driveway. Rob Consalvo sprinkles food in his goldfish tank. He grabs a Diet Coke and a handful of cheese sticks, hustling to the van. Don’t forget your vitamins, his wife says.
Martin J. Walsh’s iPhone alarm beeps. It’s 5 a.m. in Dorchester.
Michael P. Ross runs hard in Mission Hill, cresting the top of Parker Hill Avenue on an early morning jog — just like in his commercial.
Across the city, John F. Barros lifts a baby carrier onto the kitchen table and steals a glance at his 8-day-old son. After kissing his wife, Barros is out the door.
In West Roxbury, Daniel F. Conley gives a thumbs up. His 15-year-old daughter shows off a chemistry quiz. Perfect score. Conley is rushing. A poached egg. An English muffin. He stops near the front door. The TV is on. It’s his commercial. He waits a few seconds to watch the end.
A mile away, John R. Connolly pushes his newborn daughter in a stroller. It’s a brisk 4-mile walk that is supposed to be a workout. But Connolly keeps stopping to shake hands.
Bill Walczak emerges in his kitchen in Savin Hill wearing a bathrobe. Stubborn locks of hair sprout unevenly on his head. It’s 6 a.m., and he overslept for the first time in the campaign. “You know what it was? Two Guinnesses last night.”
Charlotte Golar Richie also gets an early start, though she’s not ready to see a reporter yet.
Boston’s first open mayor’s race in decades is hurtling to a close. Polls show as many as nine candidates clustered within striking distance. It’s the campaign of a lifetime for a generation of politicians, some of whom have gone gray waiting for a shot.
Each day, the 11 active candidates crisscross the city scurrying to shake hands, knock on doors, greet T riders, serve coffee to seniors. Trying to woo a still largely impassive electorate. Squeezing in one more event. Looking for one more vote. This is their story, on one day, morning to night, less than a week before the election.
Walsh arrives at Ruggles Station in Roxbury, a phalanx of campaign workers already there, clad in campaign T-shirts and primed to greet early morning commuters.
“Good morning,” he says to anyone slowing down long enough to make eye contact. “I’m Marty Walsh. I’m running for mayor of Boston.”
Within 10 minutes, Terrell Johnson, a 46-year-old undecided voter from Roxbury, asks for his autograph on the morning’s edition of the Boston Herald.
“Oh, look at that. I’m on the front page,” Walsh says, eyeing a cover that shows him tied for second place in a recent poll. “Next week, I’ll be number one.”
Customers hustle in and out of the Dunkin’ Donuts on Bunker Hill Street in Charlestown. Consalvo is there. He runs into Maurice “Moe” Gillen, a community activist with deep roots in the neighborhood. Gillen hasn’t decided who will win his vote.
“You would be a good mayor,” Gillen says
“I’m a much better athlete,” Consalvo says.
Conley is shaking hands, greeting his people. He’s working his way around the Holy Name rotary in West Roxbury, thanking 50 supporters for holding signs on wooden stakes.
“Home stretch,” Conley says. “Home stretch.”
Cars honk. Supporters cheer. It’s 55 degrees. Volunteers have been holding signs for an hour, clutching wooden stakes with bare hands. Conley does the full rotary.
“Cold hands. Cold hands,” Conley says. “We’re going to get you some gloves.”
Volunteers erupt in a cheer.
“Who’s the man? Dan! Who’s the man? Dan!”
The concourse of the Forest Hills MBTA station. Ross is there. So is Arroyo. They’re both campaigning. Ross greets an Arroyo staffer he knows. “You know,” Ross says, “it’s a secret ballot. What you do in the poll booth, no one will know.”
“Excuse me, sir. Got any change?” A young man, his words slurring slightly, approaches Barros, who is heading to campaign at the Savin Hill T. “I’m trying to buy a cup of coffee.”
“You know, all I got is plastic on me,” Barros responds, passing McKenna’s Cafe. “In half-an-hour, I’ll be in here having breakfast. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”
Thirty minutes later, after shaking hands, giving hugs, and talking to more than two dozen commuters, Barros returns to McKenna’s for a meeting.
The young man follows him into the restaurant. “I’m glad you remembered,” Barros says.
He tells the waitress to put the young man’s order on his check.
Golar Richie dodges SUVs to cross Tremont Street. Two dozen people wait for the bus in Roxbury Crossing.
“How are you doing? I’m Charlotte, this person right here.” She points to the cover of a newspaper. “And I’m running for mayor.”
Few smile. They’ve been waiting nearly an hour for the 66 bus. They’re growing anxious about arriving late to work. Again.
“I would push for regular, on-time, affordable buses,” the candidate tells the crowd.
Golar Richie takes out her phone and calls the MBTA. “There are a lot of people out here,” she says. “They say they’ve been waiting 45 minutes.”
At that moment, the bus pulls up. In a few seconds, they’re gone.
Walsh arrives at City Hall Plaza to greet city workers.
Consalvo is already there, shaking hands.
“Marty, I’m leaving if you want here, ” Consalvo says, pointing to where he’s standing.
He cedes the spot to Walsh.
One man breezes past Walsh, saying, “I don’t vote.”
“How come?” Walsh asks.
“I work here,” the man says, referring to City Hall. “Voting is useless.”
A man stands in the produce department of Stop & Shop in Grove Hall. It’s Charles L. Clemons Jr., and he’s experiencing his first campaign hiccup of the day.
He promised to bring a fruit plate to Council Towers for a meeting with seniors in a half-hour. But the grocery store doesn’t have any.
He looks over the assortment of cut up packaged fruit, nodding approvingly. He picks up containers of sliced mango, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
“I’ll cut it up into smaller pieces when I get there. That’s thinking outside the box.”
Connolly hasn’t really hit the trail yet. He’s at the Paramount restaurant in South Boston for breakfast. He shakes a few hands before sitting down to a Western omelet.
Connolly is waiting for a staffer. He searches on his iPhone for a birthday present for his son, Teddy. Bingo. He finds the perfect gift for a 5-year-old: miniature T trains.
Moments later, he heads for the door — stopping to chat with supporters — on his way to three consecutive events with seniors.
City Councilor Charles C. Yancey arrives late at the Lower Mills housing complex. He and his entourage — his wife, Marzetta — waste no time making themselves busy.
Yancey sits down with a woman in a red frock and leans in close to listen. Marzetta greets the residents like old friends.
The candidate speaks briefly to everyone there. He picks up a bundle of “Yancey for Mayor” signs and places them on windowsills, shelves, tables, the floor.
A sign falls. Yancey is back to it in a second, restoring it carefully. By the time he starts his formal speech, every corner of the room proclaims his candidacy — or, rather, one of them. He is also seeking reelection to the council.
The phone rings. Arroyo is in an SUV, zipping to City Hall for a hearing on youth jobs. An aide answers. It’s Byron Rushing, a veteran state representative. Arroyo had been courting Rushing since announcing for mayor. He takes the phone, hoping.
“Hello,’’ he says.
“You have my full support,’’ Rushing tells him.
Arroyo gives his aides a thumbs up. A press conference is hastily pulled together for later.
It’s Consalvo’s turn with the senior citizens at the Lower Mills complex. But because Yancey’s visit ran late, Consalvo has to wait 20 minutes. By the time Consalvo starts, only four seniors remain in the small cafeteria. There’d been 20 there for Yancey, but they cleared out when lunch was served.
Turns out, tuna fish was on the menu — the seniors’s least favorite meal.
“Just our luck,” Consalvo says. “It’s tuna fish day.”
Walczak is working the South End. He stops on Gray Street. A man says he’s a supporter. Swing by my house, the man says. Try to convince my wife and daughter to vote for you. Walczak knocks on their door. They talk for several minutes in the front hall of the family’s brownstone about the ills of casinos.
“It’s an insult to Boston really to have a tax on poor people and balance our books by bringing more poverty and destruction,” Walczak says.
As he goes to leave, the daughter calls out. “You got our vote. You got us.”
There’s bingo in the basement at St. Lazarus Catholic Church in East Boston, and Conley’s campaign has bought sandwiches for the 20 seniors inside.
Annette Caruccio grabs his arm.
“I see you on TV all the time,” the 87-year-old says. “You’re so handsome.”
The candidate blushes. “Remember, I’m meta italiano.”
The bingo stops as Conley talks about his parents. (“I have two seniors I’m very fond of, my mother and father, who are 82!”) He talks about his Italian grandparents, a shift from an earlier appearance in South Boston, when he highlighted his Irish great-grandparents.
He asks the crowd how many more days until Election Day.
“It’s five?” Conley said. “Who’s counting? Me.”
Lunch time for Connolly. He pops into Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain to snag a quick lunch. He gets an order to go of shredded beef and some watermelon.
Across the street he sees an opportunity at El Oriental de Cuba. Never miss a coffee shop or a diner, he tells his aides.
“This is Menino 101,” he says, crossing Centre Street. “If you’re not in the coffee shops, and the smoothie joints, you’re missing out on tons of voters.”
Arroyo stands before senior citizens on Amory Street and repeats his stump speech: He knows what it is like to leave the oven on to get heat. He knows what it is like to boil water for a warm bath. The seniors chuckle in understanding. He speaks to them in Spanish and English.
“Isn’t it nice to know that you have a mayor who can speak both?’’ he says.
A man with a tan, wrinkled face keeps yelling out in Spanish. He wants Arroyo to know: 21 people in his family will mark their ballots for Arroyo Tuesday.
Golar Richie beams while crossing Beacon Street to the State House, for a press conference about an endorsement — from state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Russell Holmes.
A trolley driver instantly recognizes Golar Richie and points her out to the crowd.
“Good luck!” he shouts.
“She’s running for mayor, ladies and gentlemen,” the driver tells his passengers.
After the press conference, she runs to a quick lunch. On the way, there’s a catcall from a young man in a car. “I could be your mother,” she admonishes.
Ross greets voters on Boylston Street. He’s wearing a prototype Google Glass borrowed from a marketing start-up. He seems to make a strong connection with the company’s young, tech-savvy employees. They compliment the graphic design of his campaign materials and website.
“You’re the only who seems to care about people like us,” one employee tells Ross. “In the past, I haven’t paid attention to local politics, but you’re one of the few people who are actually sticky.”
“And,” the worker says, echoing a sentiment the candidate hears dozens of times, “we really love that video of you running.”
A small break emerges in Barros’s schedule. A chance for a moment of peace and family time. He calls his wife while on the way to her parent’s home around the corner.
“Were you napping? Are you sure?”
Minutes later, he’s sitting in his in-laws’ living room.
The only sounds are hushed voices coming from the back of the house. Barros is sitting in the corner of the couch, MacBook in his lap.
Soon, John Jr. starts to cry. He’s teething and has a fever. Barros’s wife and mother-in-law give him a bath, trying to bring the fever down as they sing softly in Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole. The toddler is having none of it.
Barros’s wife brings a flushed John Jr. into the living room to say hello to “Papa,” who nestles his son gently. Minutes later, John Jr. rebounds, peeking around corners and toddling around the room.
Then, just like that, it’s time to go.
At the corner of Columbus and Massachusetts avenues, Walczak stops two schoolchildren. “You vote yet?” he asks. He hands them brochures, tells them to give them to their moms. “You going to vote for mayor?” one boy asks. “I’m going to be mayor,” Walczak replies.
Yancey leans over a railing, looking down. He’s on a second-floor balcony inside a South End community center, watching other candidates work the crowd at an affordable housing forum. There’s live jazz.
Trays with grapes and melon. Squares of cheese.
Ross sits at a table of young women who are asking him what it’s like running for mayor. Clemons is there.
Before it’s over, Barros, Arroyo, Golar Richie, and Consalvo will show up, too. Walczak begins to dance, arms cocked at his side, knees bent and bouncing. It’s just a moment before he jogs to a potential voter seated in the corner.
Connolly arrives late but still gets a moment at the microphone. Most of the crowd is gone. Connolly hits the door, asking his staff which tie — red or rainbow — he should wear to the next stop. It’s a debate at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The last forum of the campaign.
Over chicken sandwiches on brown bread at home, Walczak and his advisers prepare for the debate at UMass Boston. His aides tell him he needs to be firm on his anti-casino stance, challenging Connolly and Conley on their unwillingness to decide on the issue.
Walczak leans his chair back onto two legs, nods his head, and says little.
The South End housing forum is over, but Barros is still talking to voters. The debate at UMass Boston goes live in about 30 minutes.
Barros’s scheduler, Michael Burbank, leans in and whispers in his boss’s ear: time to go. But he doesn’t get far before he’s stopped again and again — and again.
Burbank’s phone rings. It’s Barros’s campaign manager. “We’re getting in the car,” Burbank assures him.
At 6:43 p.m., Burbank’s phone rings again. This time, the panic is a bit more palpable: “Where are you?”
Barros calls out nonchalantly, “Tell ’em on Mass. Ave. near U-Haul.”
He makes it on time.
Conley, however, is late, inching along in Red Sox traffic on the turnpike. He had been at a fund-raiser at a Brighton restaurant, and the clock on the wall had been wrong.
He pulls out his cellphone and calls his 18-year-old son, Jim. He has a weekend soccer match coming up.
“Wish I could make it,” Conley says. “There’ll be a couple down the road I’ll get to.”
Conley arrives 15 minutes after the debate started, taking his place on the stage.
“Sorry I was late. Stuck in traffic. The next mayor really needs to do something about the traffic.”
Consalvo skips the debate to keep a previous commitment to go to a supporter’s house party in Hyde Park. She’d said there could be 30 people there. Consalvo is excited. Last time she held a barbecue, 32 undecided voters showed up.
This time, only two appear, a young couple. Consalvo spends half an hour talking to them, then looks at the spread his backer had laid out, most of it untouched.
“I feel bad,” he tells the hostess. “Will you let the campaign pay you back for all this food?”
Afterward, on his way back to thank organizers at his Mattapan headquarters, he receives a text from a supporter who had hosted two dozen undecided voters at a Jamaica Plain house party earlier in the day. “Very impressive, my friend,” the text reads. “I know for a fact you won votes here tonight.”
It’s midway through the debate. The candidates have clashed on casinos and touched on diversity in the police department, the cost of housing, and how to better prepare students for college.
The moderator asks Golar Richie to name her hero.
“I would say my father, Simeon Golar,” citing his passion for equality and opportunity.
Golar, the first chairman of New York City’s public housing authority to have lived in public housing, died in August, a few weeks before his daughter’s name would appear on a ballot in Boston for mayor.
The debate is over. Walsh chats with friends and supporters, then takes the elevator to the first floor with a few close aides. He boards with Ross and members of his campaign staff.
The candidates approach each other as they might any voter.
“Marty Walsh,” the representative says, extending his hand to the city councilor.
“Please consider me in the up and coming election,” Ross responds.
Connolly heads toward the door after the debate, accompanied by his press secretary and an intern, Molly.
“How are you getting home?” he asks. By bike, she says. He insists on driving her and her bicycle home.
But how would they fit the bicycle into the back of a minivan already crammed with water bottles, campaign literature, and changes of clothing?
Connolly unloaded the car and then reloaded it in Tetris-like fashion. Everything fit.
“My parents will probably vote for you once I tell them you wouldn’t let me bike home in the dark,” Molly says. “Well, if they didn’t live in Maryland.”
The day winds down
Walczak leans into the leather passenger seat of a Ford Explorer and fiddles with his iPhone. He’s heading home, but sleep is far from his mind. The adrenaline is kicking in.
In West Roxbury, Conley knocks on own his front door. He forgot his key. His family is inside. Both kids talk at once, telling dad about their day. His wife pulls a name tag off his shirt. Conley loosens his tie, pulling down the knot.
Barros finds his family gathered around a long wooden table in his in-laws’s kitchen. The candidate is handed his 16-month-old son. Barros smiles at his boy, entertaining him with the shiny screen of his iPhone.
In South Boston, Ross is playing Ping-Pong in his campaign office, and he’s winning.
Consalvo sinks into his couch. His three kids join him and watch ESPN. The older two children drift off to sleep. The 3-year-old cuddles with his father.
Arroyo is outside Roche Bros. supermarket in West Roxbury looking for a few last hands to shake. The store is closing. A woman with silver hair and burgundy sweater stops outside. “I saw you at Forest Hills this morning,’’ she says.
On Blue Hill Avenue, Connolly stands outside a police precinct, greeting officers at shift change. “Thanks for everything you do,” he says again and again, shaking every hand.
It’s almost midnight.