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In City Council race, an underdog fight

If Winston Churchill served on the Boston City Council instead of as Britain’s wartime prime minister, his famous speech might have been: Never have so few fought over so little.

To wit: Althea Garrison.

Boston’s most perennial of perennial candidates has fired a legal salvo at one of her competitors in her umpteenth attempt to join the City Council. But Garrison did not attack the District 7 incumbent, City Councilor Tito Jackson.

Instead Garrison took aim at a candidate whose chances of victory may be only marginally better than hers.

“I believe Charles L. Clemons Jr.,” Garrison wrote in a legal brief, “is making a mockery of the Municipal Election System by playing games.”


Clemons is the pirate radio host whose unlicensed station was raided last year by federal agents. Clemons ran for mayor in what some suggested was more a publicity stunt for his station than a campaign. (Clemons disputes that and says he ran to highlight the lack of diversity at City Hall).

In the brief filed Tuesday with the Election Department, Garrison accused Clemons of falsifying his address to meet the residency requirement. A candidate must live in a district for a full year to represent the area on the City Council.

When Clemons ran for mayor in 2013, he listed an address on Rosseter Street, which is in District 4. This year Clemons applied for nomination papers with an address on Cedar Street but then said he moved to Blue Hill Avenue, according to the filling. Both addresses are in District 7, but Garrison alleges that Clemons has not lived in the district long enough. The missive was signed “Althea Garrison, Objector.”

According to the city, candidates must live in the district for a full year preceding the final election. That means Clemons is required to have been a resident of District 7 since Nov. 4, 2014. In an interview, Clemson said he moved into the district at the end of September 2014.


In an interview, Garrison did not have hard evidence but said she has “a strong belief that he did not live in the district.”

“I’ll let the judge sort that out,” Garrison said.

But the burden of proof will be on Garrison. She must demonstrate that Clemons lived elsewhere. That may be a Churchillian task.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.