JOHN O’TOOLE’S fingerprints can be found on nearly every major civic improvement in Dorchester: the Neponset River bike path, the Irish heritage festival, greater access to neighborhood schools, anti-crime partnerships with the Boston Police, and support for a Cape Verdean health center. He makes a convincing case that his volunteer activities, focusing on neighborhood stability, have served as effective training for the District 3 City Council seat.
Voters would be wise to focus on the candidates’ experience when choosing a new district councilor. But there are plenty of distractions. The election has been billed as a proxy fight between Mayor Menino’s candidate — O’Toole — and state Representative Martin Walsh’s candidate - Frank Baker. It has been characterized, too, as a battle between two powerful geographic sections of Dorchester — Baker’s Savin Hill and O’Toole’s Cedar Grove. There’s more than a grain of truth to these views. But such sideshows don’t give a true picture of the candidates.