Boston mayoral candidate Charles Clemons reached out to the five other candidates of color earlier this month with the hope of organizing a breakfast at which they could discuss issues specific to Boston’s minority neighborhoods.
A meeting of the six over coffee and doughnuts would be historic, Clemons said. He even secured his most prominent supporter, civil rights activist and former mayoral runnerup Mel King, to moderate the breakfast, scheduled for 8 a.m. Wednesday in Roxbury.
But, perhaps in a sign of the uphill battle Clemons is facing in having the campaigns present a united front, it was unclear whether the other candidates of color would show up.
The two best-known minority candidates vying to replace Thomas M. Menino, out of a field of 12, are Councilor at Large Felix G. Arroyo and former state representative Charlotte Golar Richie, both of whom will not be attending Wednesday morning’s breakfast due to scheduling conflicts, according to their campaigns.
“It would be wrong for anyone to construe Charlotte not being able to synchronize her schedule to accommodate Mr. Clemons’s meeting as anything more than a scheduling conflict,” said Bridgit Brown, Golar Richie’s campaign spokeswoman. “Charlotte has been to a number of community leadership meetings where many outstanding ideas have been exchanged. She expects no less from this gathering of community leaders.”
However, Brown noted, the Golar Richie campaign might send a surrogate.
Arroyo’s campaign said it could not find an invitation to the event. But, a campaign spokeswoman noted, the event conflicts with a previously scheduled breakfast meeting on Arroyo’s calendar.
Meanwhile, Councilor Charles Yancey and Clemons’s former radio station colleague John F. Barros told the Globe Tuesday that they were still in the “maybe attending” column. It is unclear if David James Wyatt, the sole Republican in the race. is planning to be there. He could not be reached for comment.
Barros had initially said he was attending the meeting, but his campaign later said he was still making up his mind and had reached out to Clemons for clarification about what the parameters of the meeting are.
“John is willing and always willing to talk about issues, whether it is in a forum or a group of folks in a coffee shop,” said Matt Patton, a spokesman for Barros. “He is always willing to talk about issues.”
Clemons, who founded and operates TOUCH 106.1 FM, a low frequency radio station, said the breakfast, which he has been promoting on his radio program for close to five weeks, will be closed to reporters and the public.
Some have speculated the meeting might be an attempt to unite behind one campaign to improve the odds that a minority candidate survives the first round on Sept. 24. But Clemons was quick to insist that this meeting was not meant to form political alliances, but rather to have a substantive discussion of issues that effect Boston’s minority communities.
“One thing I don’t want to let happen is the voice of the community to fall on deaf ears,” Clemons said, adding that it is vital that education, gun violence, and jobs be at the forefront of the mayoral race dialogue. “We need to start showing unity in our communities. We need to be unified behind our entire slate of candidates of color.”
He and other candidates have noted the difficulties of a large field but have been hesitant to give credence to the notion that having minority candidates could divide the vote and leave two white candidates come general election.
“There are some who will bemoan the fact that there are so many people of color running,” Yancey said. “I don’t think it’s a major problem. We just each have to make our case to the public.”