Look who landed in Roxbury council final

There has been much consternation and reflection since last week’s Boston mayoral preliminary about the failure of any of the three Black candidates to land a spot on the November final election ballot. 

“One big reason is that voter turnout was anemic,” writes Joyce Ferriabough Bolling, a veteran Black political strategist, in today’s Boston Herald. “In the Black community, at a time when we had the most to gain, we did not come out in the numbers we needed to win.” 

But the outcome of another race may say as much about the woeful state of political activism and energy in the city’s Black community.

In the contest for the open District 7 city council seat based in Roxbury, perennial candidate Roy Owens, who shows up reliably on Boston ballots for everything from City Council to Congress but invariably falls short of ever winning, landed one of the two slots for the final election to replace Kim Janey, who gave up the seat to run for mayor.

Tania Anderson, director of the Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets office, a business district improvement organization, placed first in the eight-candidate preliminary with 2,014 votes. But Owens eked out a second-place win over Angelina Camacho, an administrator with the Boston Public Health Commission, finishing 28 votes ahead of her with 1,284 votes to Camacho’s 1,256. 

Owens, who espouses religious-based right-wing social positions decrying abortion, sex ed in classrooms, and the prohibition against prayer in public schools, has run for various offices for decades. Last year, he was on the ballot as an independent against US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, with a campaign website that the Globe said touted  “traditional family values” and featured COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Owens could not be reached, but in a voice message he said he is “trying to make commonsense make sense.” He added that he favors a tax break for homeowners before going on to say that over the last year in District 7 “tens of thousands of Blacks been moved out,” with “many groups of people that’s been brought in to replace them, whether from Ethiopia, Afghanistan, India” or others “from south of the border.” 

“He has run in every election there’s been, so he’s got name recognition,” said veteran Black activist Barry Lawton, who was in a state rep race that included Owens more than 25 years ago. As for Owens’s political bearings, “He’s to the right of Texas,” said Lawton. 

But that name recognition and perhaps a base of support among a slice of District 7 voters were enough for Owens to place second, Lawton said, amid the dismal turnout in Black precincts that was well below the citywide 25 percent showing.

“The problem with Black folks and why we can’t generate any votes is there’s nobody we trust,” Lawton said, describing a vicious cycle at work. “There’s no benefit seen to voting because we haven’t seen any return on it.” 

Segun Idowu, president of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, said his phone “lit up” with people expressing surprise that Owens landed a spot in the final. 

Hedging his bets, Owens also ran in the at-large city council race, placing 15th in the 17-candidate field. He also has a website up and running for another congressional run next year. “If you are not ashamed of your God, take a stand with Roy Owens for CONGRESS,” it says, plugging the dates of the 2022 primary and general election.  

On Monday, Camacho filed petitions with the city election department seeking a recount of Owens’s 28-vote margin over her. 

She lamented the low turnout in the race that saw just 8,500 voters cast ballots in the district, less than half the 21,000 voters who turned out in the West Roxbury-Jamaica Plain district that also had an open race for a district council seat. 

“When they don’t come out to speak their choice, that’s them telling us we have work to do,” Camacho said of the District 7 voters who stayed home. “We didn’t do enough to get people excited about local government, and that’s a job we have.” 

“The main thing that people kept saying repeatedly is we go out and we ask for support and then we get quiet behind the walls of City Hall,” Camacho said of her experience trying to energize voters. “Once we get into office, they don’t see us, they don’t hear from us.” 

MICHAEL JONAS

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

A cry for help: The Massachusetts nursing home industry, an epicenter of death during COVID last year, is sounding the alarm again, claiming 1 in 5 nursing and direct care positions are currently unfilled and close to 100 facilities are in danger of going under.

— The trouble at nursing homes never seems to end. This is the third year in a row that the industry has issued a plea for help. This time the industry is seeking nearly $560 million in state and federal aid to improve salaries, bring in nurses from abroad, and rehab facilities.

— The nursing home industry isn’t alone. At a State House hearing focused on what to do with billions of dollars in federal aid, scores of human service providers said the money should be used to stabilize their services and their employee base. Read more.

MCAS downturn: The first MCAS tests administered in the COVID era showed drops across the board in nearly all communities, particularly in math. Supporters of MCAS testing said the information confirms what many feared and offers a guide for what needs to be done, but opponents said the results provide little new information and only reflect the varying resource levels of communities.

— One member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education said the dismal results in Boston should trigger a discussion on whether the city’s schools should be placed in receivership. Read more.

T collision, derailment updates: Preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate driver error caused a collision on the Green Line in July, and the T is moving to fire the operator. The T is also returning its new Orange Line vehicles to service without reaching any conclusion on what caused one of those cars to derail in March. Read more.

Preliminary election results: In Tuesday’s preliminary election, incumbents fared well in Everett, Fall River, Attleboro, and Beverly. In races for open seats in Lawrence and Holyoke, big fields were narrowed to two but it’s clear to win in November a candidate will have to attract voters who previously supported rivals. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The newly appointed ombudsman for the Department of Correction is placed on paid administrative leave after he is linked to a wrongful death lawsuit nine years ago when he was working as an EMT. (WBUR)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo lashed out at Boston officials over talk of converting a hotel in Revere to a transitional homeless center to relieve the concentration of problems around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. (Boston Globe

ELECTIONS

Annissa Essaibi George asks super PACs to stay out of the race for mayor. Two of the PACs are supporting her campaign, including one with ties to former president Donald Trump. (Dorchester Reporter)

The Globe looks at what went wrong for Kim Janey, who had the advantage of being acting mayor but placed fourth in last week’s preliminary election for mayor in Boston. 

The Globe talks to a group of prominent business honchos who want Gov. Charlie Baker to run for a third term. 

Voters in Leicester, in a special election, approved a proposal to have the town buy the shuttered Leicester campus buildings of Becker College. (Telegram & Gazette

EDUCATION

For the second day, UMass Amherst students protest (this time peacefully) outside a fraternity where a sexual assault allegedly occurred. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

The Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag wants Boston University to change the name of a dormitory honoring Myles Standish, a Pilgrim military leader they say led acts of violence against native people in the area. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Former Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia was sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge who likened his corruption convictions to the “old-style” criminal ways of Boston Mayor James Michael Curley. (Boston Globe) Witnesses and former rivals reacted to the sentencing news. (Herald News