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Councilor Michael P. Ross kicks off mayoral campaign

Michael Ross met Jay Mofenson and his dogs in the South End as Ross launched his effort to become mayor of Boston.

Colm O’Molloy for The Boston Globe

Michael Ross met Jay Mofenson and his dogs in the South End as Ross launched his effort to become mayor of Boston.

About 7 p.m. Wednesday in the State Room, Councilor Michael P. Ross looked alert and energized as he formally launched his campaign for mayor. Just under 12 hours later — dressed in sneakers, blue track pants, and a neon yellow T-shirt — Ross stretched and yawned before a 45-minute run in Savin Hill.

“I run all the time in the mornings,” he said. “I wake up and run.” The difference this time? He had never gone to sleep.

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Instead, Ross spent the night and early morning meeting with arts and culture leaders in Roxbury, riding across the city with Boston police and EMTs, and donning a hairnet to discuss economic development and healthy eating at City Fresh Foods, all part of his campaign’s 25-hour rollout, starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and ending at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The sites, businesses, and community groups highlighted in the rollout are top priorities for Ross’s campaign.

In a hotly contested mayoral race that now boasts a dozen candidates — including city councilors, community leaders, and a district attorney — Ross said his 25-hour launch was in part a way to distinguish himself.

“We wanted to be more than an event downtown,” he said. “The city is more than one thing and more than one place, and we wanted to represent that in our kickoff. At the same time, we wanted to distinguish ourselves from the other candidates.”

For Ross, the 25-hour rollout was also a chance to have a bit of fun. Most days, he said, he and his staff cannot go to all the events they wish to attend. Without sleep, much more could be done.

From the start of his campaign, Ross has sought to differentiate himself from his competitors. In early April, he used a BlackBerry to announce his run via Twitter, a decision he said signaled his campaign’s commitment to technology and social connection. He has also stressed his heritage: His father survived 10 concentration camps during the Holocaust, and his mother has been in a committed relationship with a woman for more than three decades.

His mother, Suzanne London, said at the kickoff that she was proud of her son for pursuing a longtime goal. But, she said, she would not be joining him for the remaining 22 hours.

“The last time I was up that late was when Mike was a baby,” she said.

Ross, for his part, said the last time he had pulled an all-nighter was cramming for exams in law school. Still, by 5:30 a.m., just two Dunkin’ Donuts runs and a few yawns later, Ross was talkative and active. He joked he was ready to sprint during his scheduled morning run with the local running group Dorchester Swarm. In car rides between events, he spoke of his vision for the city, emphasizing his commitment to neighborhood growth.

Cayce McCabe, Ross’s campaign manager, said many of the stops showed Ross’s accomplishments on the City Council and fidelity to neighborhood improvement.

“We’re visiting places where Mike has been the catalyst for change,” McCabe said. “We’re visiting a dog park, and he was the driving force behind bringing dog parks to Boston. We’re going to a classroom that’s named after him. We’re serving food at a food truck, and he helped bring those to Boston, too.”

Ross was elected to the City Council in 1999 and later served as its first Jewish president. During his tenure, he pushed for more physical education in Boston public schools, opposed a plan to move Fenway Park, and spoke out in 2009 against a firefighter union contract that awarded firefighters a 19 percent retroactive pay increase.

After his Savin Hill run, Ross drove home to shower before a visit to Peters Park Dog Park in the South End.

Would he be able to catch up on rest the next day? Maybe. “But I’m not very good at sleeping in,” he said. “There’s always work to do.”

Nikita Lalwani can be reached at nikita.lalwani@globe.com.
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