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Ready or not, 2015 council race has begun

From left: Annissa Essaibi George, Andrea Campbell, and Bryan Fuller have announced their candidacies for city council.

It’s time to talk about yet another election. This one: Boston City Council.

And to answer the unspoken question: Yes, it’s earlier than usual to be talking about this race. Actually, it’s a lot earlier.

The city’s Election Department hasn’t finalized an official elections calendar. Its website says “There are no local, or special elections scheduled at this time.” And the council is in the middle of its two-year term, elections having been held just over 13 months ago.

And still, at least three people — Bryan Fuller, Andrea J. Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George — already have declared their candidacy for November 2015 by doing such things as creating campaign accounts, forming political committees, and raising money.


“I cannot remember anybody ever announcing before the first of the year,” said former city councilor Larry DiCara. “But there are no rules, no laws involved.”

Early candidacy usually comes into play when an incumbent decides not to run, precipitating a crush of candidates jockeying for the vacancy. Think: the historic 2013 race for mayor when the late Thomas M. Menino announced he would not seek a sixth term in office.

Twelve candidates ran for office, and there was a domino effect with a groundswell of candidates seeking City Council seats. For example, 19 people, George among them, ran for the four at-large council seats.

Not next year.

“We had an unusual circumstance because we had an open mayor’s race,” said Sabino Piemonte, of the election department. “We don’t anticipate an enormous amount of candidates.”

Ten of the 13 sitting councilors said they plan to seek reelection, though some puzzled over why this was a topic of conversation just yet. Councilors Stephen J. Murphy, Michael Flaherty, and Frank Baker did not respond to a Globe query about their intentions for 2015.

“It’s a bit early to be asking about reelection. I’m in the middle of my term,” said Councilor Mark Ciommo. “I’m focused on my work right now, but I have every intention of running again.”


Unseating an incumbent is no easy task, said former city councilor Michael Ross, who vacated the District 8 seat, which includes the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and Mission Hill, in an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2013.

“It’s very rare that incumbents are unseated, especially district city councilors,” said Ross, who held the seat for 14 years and now writes an opinion column for the Globe. “As a result, you’re not necessarily going to have a candidate who is, quote-unquote, a serious candidate.”

Still, he said, it’s not impossible. Flaherty knocked off an incumbent in 1999, unseating Albert “Dapper” O’Neil who served for 28 years. Flaherty then made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2009, only to return to the council in 2013.

Of the three candidates who have informally declared their intentions to run — they’re not officially candidates until they pull paperwork — only one is running for a district seat.

Campbell is challenging Councilor Charles Yancey, who has represented parts of Dorchester and Mattapan for more than 30 years. In fact, Yancey is the first and the only person to represent District 4. He has been in the job since district council seats were created in 1983. He has no intention of changing that. “I do intend to run for reelection to Boston City Council next year,” Yancey said.


Campbell, a 32-year-old Mattapan resident who served as deputy counsel for Governor Deval Patrick, said in a statement that “this campaign is part of a lifetime commitment to serve and invest in the community that provided a supportive and encouraging environment for me.”

The Boston native and product of the city’s school system plans to spend the coming weeks continuing to educate herself about residents’ needs and aspirations “for our community. Only together, will we move our community forward.”

While she has yet to formally announce her candidacy, she has amassed quite a war chest. Campbell has raised more than $15,000 since forming her political committee in November, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The chairwoman of the committee is Wilnelia Rivera, who was John Barros’s deputy campaign manager when he ran for mayor in 2013.

George and Fuller are both running for at-large seats. This is Fuller’s first time as a candidate. George finished fifth last year, missing a spot on the council by 14,455 votes.

For George, the seed to run for City Council was planted last February when reading a newspaper column questioning the dearth of female candidates in last year’s mayoral race. Of the 12 candidates, there was one woman.

“I do remember thinking: You are right. Where are the women?” the 41-year-old Dorchester native recalled. “In retrospect, I wish I started right then in February, which is why I’m starting now.”

The issues remain the same, she said: education, economic development, the impact of poverty on children, and supporting small business. As a high school teacher, mother of four, and small business owner, George said, “my voice is missing on City Council.”


Her background, she said, will allow her to inject first-hand knowledge into discussions about such things as class size, student assignment, and pulling the necessary permits to open a business.

For Fuller, this is the pursuit of a lifelong dream. The South Boston resident and Hamilton native said he has wanted to run for office since he was a child, an ambition well known by the 45-year-old’s friends. In fact, he said, it was a friend who gave him the needed nudge this fall.

“Boston has an obligation to all its citizens, and one reason I feel so strongly about this is because so many of our indigent are veterans,” he said. “I know first-hand how difficult that transition can be, and I had a best-case-scenario. I had a college degree and no physical injuries.”

The environment, education, poverty, and veterans affairs are key issues for the Army veteran. Fuller graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in political science, and “the very next day I was on a bus to Fort Leonard Wood.”

After his five years of service were up in 1999, including two tours in Bosnia, he enrolled in Boston University, where he received a master’s in business administration. Boston has been his home since. “I would like to be part of the narrative to help Boston grow in the next 15 to 20 years,” he said.


Correction: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect photo of Andrea Campbell.

Akilah Johnson can be reached at ajohnson@globe.com.