John F. Barros grew up off Dudley Street in Roxbury, the son of Cape Verdean immigrants, excelled in school, catapulted into the Ivy League, and landed in big business in Manhattan.
But then Barros returned to the urban streets of his childhood, where for more than a decade he has run the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a well-known nonprofit that has helped revitalize Roxbury. In 2010, he became the first person of Cape Verdean descent to serve on the School Committee.
Now, Barros has set his civic ambition higher: On Thursday, he is expected to launch a bid for mayor, joining a crowded field running to succeed Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Barros’s campaign issued a press release Wednesday saying he will announce his candidacy at 10 a.m. at the Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury. In an interview Wednesday, Barros said he would save his formal kickoff speech for Haley House, but said he made his decision after consulting closely with his family and voters throughout the city.
“I have done my due diligence,” Barros said. “I’ve talked to people across Boston.”
His entrance does not come as a surprise. Barros formed a fund-raising committee last week and on Monday resigned his post on the School Committee because he did not want his political campaign to compromise that board’s work.
But his candidacy will add a new dynamic to an already complicated race. Barros hails from the nonprofit world of community organizing. That may be a challenge for the campaign of Bill Walczak, cofounder of the Codman Square Health Center, who may draw support from similar circles.
With his Cape Verdean ancestry, Barros may also have an impact on other major candidates of color. Councilor Felix G. Arroyo has already launched his bid and would be the first Hispanic to appear on the ballot in a mayoral election.
Another candidate expected to join the race is Charlotte Golar Richie, an African-
American who served as a state representative from Dorchester and held positions in the Patrick and Menino administrations.
“If there are three significant candidates of color, it’s more difficult for any of them to make it into the final,” said Lawrence S. DiCara, a former City Council president who has a forthcoming book on Boston politics. “It’s simple math.”
No neighborhood or ethnic group will vote as a bloc, but candidates who draw support from similar parts of the city may hurt each others’ campaigns. The same may be true in the southwest reaches of Boston, home to three well-known candidates: Councilors John R. Connolly and Rob Consalvo, and Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Two other candidates, Walczak and state Representative Martin J. Walsh, live in the same precinct in Dorchester. “All the constituencies seem to be splintered,” said Jeffrey M. Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. “Nobody has this great big constituency.”
Barros graduated from Boston College High School and went to Dartmouth College, where he studied economics and African and African-
American Studies. He graduated in 1996 and worked for the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, where he helped underwrite initial public offerings for start-up companies, including Priceline.com, according to his campaign.
Barros was 17 when he became the first teenager elected to the board of directors of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. After leaving for college, he found his way back to the organization and became executive director in 2000.
Barros, 39, lives in Dorchester with his wife, Tchintcia, and their 1-year old son, John Jr. The couple is expecting another child in September. Barros co-owns Restaurante Cesaria, a Cape Verdean restaurant on Bowdoin Street in Dorchester.
He is active at St. Patrick’s Church in Roxbury and was appointed coordinator of the Cape Verdean Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Boston, according to his campaign.
Already, 19 people have gone to the Election Department at City Hall to apply for nomination papers, the first step in getting on the ballot for the Sept. 24 preliminary election.
That includes four people who added their names Wednesday: Arroyo, Conley, Robert Cappucci of East Boston, and the Rev. Miniard Culpepper of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Dorchester.
Campaigns must collect the signatures of 3,000 registered voters to appear on the ballot. Signature papers will begin to be available April 30. Candidates have until May 13 to apply. A final election between the two top voter-getters is scheduled for Nov. 5.
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