At the polls, inspiration amid the nuts and bolts of democracy

At the Curley Community Center in South Boston, supporters were making a big show of support around lunchtime for mayoral hopeful Martin J. Walsh, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, City Councilor John R. Connolly, and for City Council candidate Michael Flaherty.

Chris Kowalski, 25, who is in medical sales, said he supported Walsh because of his outreach to a wide spectrum of the city.

“I think one of the most important things was to see who was out there,” Kowalski said. “Guys like Dan, Marty, and John all have done a good job at getting out and talking to people.”


He described Walsh, a state lawmaker, as “a personable guy, and I like his vision and how he connects with people.”

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Gus Cunningham, 48, voted for Connolly because of his focus on improving public education in the city, an issue that has surfaced time and time again on the campaign trail.

“I have two young children so education is important, and I’d like to send them to Boston public Schools,” said Cunningham, who works in Internet security. “I don’t want to send them to Catholic school, but there aren’t a lot of options.”




At Florian Hall in Dorchester, voters had to navigate about 20 supporters of various candidates.

Noralie Barnett, 73, a retiree, said she voted for Bill Walczak, saying he had done a lot for the community.

Also, Barnett said: “I’m glad he’s against the casino. Too much corruption follows casinos.”

Angel Laurenti, 37, a physical therapist, voted for state Representative Martin J. Walsh.

“I’m truly excited to see Marty Walsh get in. I think he can change a lot,” Laurenti said.




At the Elihu Greenwood School in Hyde Park, there were more volunteers than voters. They were each imploring voters to select their respective candidates.

Joseph Keane, a senior walking with a cane, said he voted for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

“He’s got experience running something,” said Keane, of Hyde Park. “He’s got a big budget and a lot of people.”

Mary E. Sullivan, an 81-year-old Roslindale resident, was escorted to a van for the Rob Consalvo campaign. The decision for mayor was easy for Sullivan.

“I voted for Rob Consalvo because he’s been my city councilor for many years, and he’s taken care of our area,” Sullivan said. “He knows how to get things done. And he will do the same for the rest of the city.”

Magella B. Germain said she voted for Charlotte Golar Richie.

“I don’t know why,” Germain said. “I guess I want to see a woman in office. Everywhere you look it’s just men, men, men.”

Mario Palombi, 84, of Hyde Park said he did not expect a big crowd today at the polls. Prior to voting, he said he did his homework and checked out all the candidates. But ultimately he settled on someone he knows — Consalvo.

“In my district, I know the people. I grew up with them. At least I know Consalvo. I don’t know the others,” he said. “Rob’s a good person. He’s a good city councilor. And I think he’ll be a great mayor.”



At the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan, candidates’ supporters and signs crowded the entrance.

Marie Blas, 59, a residential supervisor, acknowledged the challenge of deciding among the myriad candidates.

“I have election fatigue, there have been so many. But I felt today was important,” Blas said after casting her vote. “It was hard to choose for mayor.

“We had Menino for so long, so you don’t really know the background of these people. I tried to read up on them, but it was still so confusing. There are so many candidates.”

She ended up voting for John Barros, who served on the School Committee and led the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

Maurice Baker, 52, a small business owner, went to the polls seeking change.

“We need something fresh, and to get out of the old habits that have been around for the last 20 years,” Baker said. “We need someone who will get folks talking and stir the city up.”

Baker believes that person would be Charles Clemons, who co-founded Touch 106.1 FM, which has a loyal following in Mattapan.



At the Curley School in Jamaica Plain, volunteers were passing out leaflets for four different candidates and City Councilor Matt O’Malley was handing out water bottles with his name printed on them.

“It’s inspiring,” said Nancy Golder, a 70-year-old psychotherapist who is voting for Felix Arroyo for mayor. “It really illustrates the democratic process and that people are willing to step forward.”

Still, she said, she was frustrated that so many candidates were making big promises without thinking of how to pay for them, including Arroyo, who is a city councilor.

“They are all claiming new ground, but they are not saying how that ground is going to be supported financially by the city,” Golder said.

Mrissa Gunanja, a 33-year-old nonprofit worker said she was voting for Charlotte Golar Richie. “It’s a little overwhelming, the number of people to choose from. It’s not clear what distinctions there are between a lot of them.” She chose Golar Richie. She liked her experience with neighborhood development.



At the Holy Name Parish hall in West Roxbury, voters were greeted by four people passing out leaflets for different candidates. Three satellite news trucks were also there.

There were a dozen people holding signs for candidates as well as mayoral candidate Daniel F. Conley, City Council candidate Martin Keough, and mayoral candidate John R. Connolly’s mother, Lynda.

“I like it,” said Juli Greenwood, a 39-year-old public relations and marketing professional from Roslindale. “Maybe every race should be this crazy.”

Greenwood said she voted for Michael P. Ross for mayor.



At the Bellflower Apartments in Dorchester, a few blocks from Everett Square, residents streamed out after making their choices for mayor and City Council.

With so many candidates on the ballot, Janet Wolford, 56, of Dorchester summed up her experience in the polling booth in one word.

“Overwhelming,” she said. “It was really, really hard.”

Janice Geary, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, said she was certain of her choice for mayor (Martin J. Walsh), and knew three of her picks for the council, but when it came to that last slot, she still hadn’t decided when she reached the polls.

It wasn’t exactly an eeny-meeny-miney-mo situation, she said. But it was certainly a challenge to figure out how to make a decision on the last council candidate.

“I guess I finally decided on something,” Geary said, “because I made it out here!”

Rebecca and Dan Cassely, 39, and 40, said they did a fair bit of research before they arrived at the polls, and had met some of the candidates who had spoken at local civic association meetings or knocked on their front door.

With so many candidates, the couple said, it was hard to differentiate — “it’s not like there’s anybody crazy on the ballot,” Rebecca said — but they decided to vote for people they knew had been active in their community in the past.

Still, for Rebecca, when it came down to it, she still had not made all her final decisions. What to do? She looked for names on the ballot with addresses that were close to where she lives.

And she nixed a few potential candidates because, she said, because she was annoyed that their flyers and mailings were strewn haphazardly at her front porch, not attached with any kind of rubber band or door hanging.

“Some of them, their fliers are always blowing around and making trash,” she said. “I don’t really like that. That definitely made me not want to vote for them.”