As you may have heard, there are approximately 714 candidates running for mayor of Boston this year. Actually, it’s 14 — presuming they all have submitted enough signatures — but feels like many more. There are so many candidates that two of them are affiliated with the same radio station, a onetime pirate station at that.
But some are bound to eventually break out of this pack, and Charlotte Golar Richie believes she can be one of them. The lone woman in the race and one of a handful of people of color, she believes that her experience as a former state representative and city official gives her the management experience to become a front-runner.
On Tuesday, Richie’s campaign said she had become the eighth candidate certified with the required 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot. She has her doubters, who will surely point to the paltry $27,000 she raised in May as validation of their skepticism. But her record in city and state politics demands that she be taken seriously.
In a diner on Bowdoin Street in Dorchester a few days ago, Richie said she believes she is the best candidate to replace her former boss, Tom Menino. She said she plans to draw on her experience representing Dorchester as a state representative and managing housing development during her time in City Hall, to boost her candidacy.
But she has not appeared on a ballot in over a decade. How do you put a political machine back together?
“You run hard, you run smart, and you put good people around you,” Richie said. “And hopefully you’ve done things that matter in people’s lives, so you’re not starting from scratch.”
Richie spent five years in the Legislature, but may be equally well known around town for her work in the Department of Neighborhood Development, where she oversaw an array of programs during a robust period for building and renovating affordable housing. She believes her record extends her political reach beyond the neighborhoods she represented as a politician.
As for fund-raising, it can be a deceptive measure of a candidate’s strength, but I think we can agree that there is no upside to being near the bottom, which is where her campaign sits at the moment. Richie and her advisers say she is counting on support from local and national women’s groups, but how deeply invested they will become in a mayoral race is another of those unanswered questions.
Richie left her job as a vice president at the job training program YouthBuild USA last Friday to devote herself full time to the campaign.
“I think it is the steady, focused, methodical approach that will succeed,” she said. “I will show over the next four weeks what I can do.”
Richie is an anomaly in Boston politics: a native New Yorker. She grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a neighborhood she describes as being a lot like Dorchester. Her father, Simeon Golar, was a longtime New York state judge who dabbled in politics.
Golar Richie says she believes one of the challenges for the next mayor will be proving they can master the city’s finances and provide stable management. Surprisingly, she supports Menino’s plan to begin the search for a new school superintendent, which many of the candidates would prefer to oversee themselves once they become mayor.
Asked if she finds anything odd about being the only female candidate, she shrugs. “At least there’s one,” she said.
But the unfortunate truth is that the field reflects the state of the city’s politics. After all, only one of the 13 city councilors is a woman. The dearth of women in the race isn’t some accident. It’s a reflection of the obstacles women have faced in finding a toehold.
Richie would rather talk about unity than disunity. “I love this city,” she said. “I’ve proved my commitment to this city. I feel that I can bring everybody together. I’ve got practice at that.”