He’s making his way from event to event, shaking hands, slapping backs, and handing out nail files with his last name printed on the side.
For Michael Flaherty, this fall’s city council election is in some ways the next step in a long political career and in others a resurrection story.
The son of a state representative, Flaherty was born and raised in Boston, attended undergrad at Boston College and law school at Boston University, and worked in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office before his election to the Boston City Council in 1999. He is a fixture and longtime resident of South Boston, where he currently lives with his wife and four kids.
But after a decade on the council, including a stint as its president, Flaherty gave up his council seat four years ago in a bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
After his mayoral campaign came up short, Flaherty attempted to win back his council spot in 2011, only to see many of the political forces that had worked against him in 2009 again mobilize to keep him out of City Hall. He finished fifth out of seven candidates.
But 2013 has been different.
After flirting with another mayoral run, Flaherty opted instead to attempt to regain his citywide seat on the City Council and, at least based on the preliminary election vote totals, the electorate may be ready to return him to the council chambers.
And he is ready to be back.
“It’s a new day for the city. Under a new mayor, whoever it is, the council will have a new opportunity to be a more active and equal part of city government,” Flaherty said. “The next council is going to play an important role in addressing the critical issues that face our city.”
Flaherty says his 2011 loss made it impossible to take voters for granted, and the candidate has spent months crossing the city, hitting event after event and reminding voters that he is once again on the ballot.
Those retail politics paid off in the preliminary, with Flaherty coming in second — earning more votes than incumbent and current council president Stephen Murphy.
“I’ve always been confident in my citywide organization,” a smiling Flaherty said on the night of the preliminary election after the votes were tallied. “And they really stepped up for me today.”
Flaherty’s mayoral bid centered on vows to improve the city’s education system, a promise that he is again making as he campaigns for a return to the council. He has also stressed the need to devote new resources to addiction recovery services and to use new technology to improve city services such as snow removal and sidewalks.
In interviews and campaign stops, Flaherty seems eager and energetic, rattling off issue after issue he would like to see tackled head on by the next council.
But, he acknowledges, he still has one more task ahead of him before he can really think about all of that: getting his council seat back.