The Rev. Miniard Culpepper, a community advocate, lawyer, and senior pastor at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Dorchester, announced his run for the state Senate on Tuesday, a move that follows his decision to retire as regional counsel for the nation’s housing authority.
Culpepper, 67, announced his campaign for the newly drawn Second Suffolk district in Dorchester on alongside local faith leaders, community advocates, candidates for local office, regional HUD employees, and his son, attorney Jonathan Culpepper.
“I always aspired to do something politically. I just never saw the right time,” Culpepper said in an interview with the Globe. “It’s time for me to take my experience to the State House.”
The lawyer and faith leader spent a 27-year career overseeing HUD’s fair housing policies in New England. He is also no stranger to the campaign trail, having campaigned with several presidential contenders over the years, including Ted Kennedy in 1980, Bill Clinton in 1992, and Senator Elizabeth Warren during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates. He also ran his own short-lived campaign for Boston mayor in 2013.
His godmother was Shirley Chisholm, the nation’s first Black congresswoman, who taught him that in politics, it’s best to be “unbought and unbossed,” he said.
Culpepper said he decided to run for office earlier this year after teaching a class on housing at Suffolk University Law School. Teaching that course, he realized he wanted to be more involved in the community, and that it was time to move on from HUD. He saw the open Senate seat as an opportunity to jump back into politics upon his retirement, he said.
Following the decennial redistricting process, which occurs after every census, the district he is running for includes parts of Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. It has been represented since 2009 by Sonia Chang-Díaz, who is now running for governor.
The field already includes state Representatives Nika Elugardo and Liz Miranda, who both represent parts of Boston, but Culpepper said his status as Beacon Hill outsider will help set him apart in his appeal to voters.
“I think it’s a bonus, not being a politician. I have no obligations to anyone politically,” he said. “I am ready to fight for affordable housing, income and wealth equality, and better education for our young folks. I have done a lot. ... I think experience matters in this race.”