This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2014 edition of the Dorchester Reporter.
The path to the corner office runs through the Haitian community for any aspiring governor, according to Gov. Deval Patrick – and he would know. “You cannot win without the Haitian community. You shouldn't even try without the Haitian community,” he says.
Patrick delivered that line and more with the help of a translator to a packed room of more than 150 Haitian seniors on Monday afternoon at the Sant Belvi Adult Day Center. The governor’s appearance at Sant Belvi was part of a whirlwind of a day stumping for his would-be successor, Attorney General Martha Coakley at senior centers across Boston.
Patrick also used the occasion to thank the Haitian community, which, he said, has been behind him “every step of the way” over the last eight years. “Political power rests with all of you,” he said. “Use that power to vote on November 4.”
When asked by the Reporter if Republican candidate Charlie Baker was ignoring the Haitian community, Patrick scoffed. “I don’t know where Charlie Baker is,” he said, “but I know what he’s been saying and what he stands for. And what he’s been saying and what he stands for is the opposite of the people-focused and future-focused agenda that Martha Coakley stands for and, frankly, that she’s devoted her career to.”
Patrick also took the time to stump for state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, who is running for re-election against independent candidate Robert E. Powers, Jr. Dorcena Forry, state Rep. Dan Cullinane, Oswald Neptune, director of the Haitian Adult Day Health, and Jean Claude Sanon, a several-time unsuccessful City Council candidate who is involved with Sant Belvi, were on hand for the governor’s visit.
Despite his presence at the Coakley event, Sanon told the Reporter on Wednesday that he is supporting Baker for governor. He said that despite Patrick’s time in the community as Coakley’s surrogate, she “has no connection with the community. None at all. That’s what lost her in 2010 against Scott Brown and it’s going to happen again.”
Sanon, who said that Baker had approached him asking for his support, called the Republican’s urban agenda “in line” with his own views while conceding that other Haitian-Americans may not agree with him. “I must admit that this is a community that has been taken for granted by the Democratic party,” he said. “But the analysis I’m making, other folks would not make it.”
As to the Senate campaign, Powers has been far from a threatening presence on the trail, but that hasn’t stopped the Dorcena Forry camp from rolling out campaign swag. The Second Suffolk race seems far from a nail-biter, but Dorcena Forry’s campaign staff distributed Teamster-branded nail files to the seniors at San Belvi and the neighboring Kay Pam health center.
In a tweet, Dorcena Forry, who is married to Reporter editor and publisher Bill Forry, joked that the files are “old school” after a reporter remarked that she had never seen campaign swag nail files before. Turns out they were a mainstay for a number of Bay State pols, including City Councillor Michael Flaherty for his runs in the early ‘00s.
Even though City Councillor Charles Yancey’s latest quest for a vote on the loan order funding a high school in Mattapan was tabled at the council meeting two weeks ago, he has soldiered on, unwaveringly
While speaking at last Thursday’s press conference with Gov. Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey for the unveiling of plans for improvements on the Fairmount Line and a new Blue Hill Avenue station, Yancey invited the governor to a groundbreaking ceremony for the high school before the end of his term in a little more than two months. Yancey told the Reporter that he planned to bring the $120 million loan order to a vote at this week’s council meeting.
After the press conference, Patrick told the Reporter that the high school was not his decision, adding that he admired Yancey’s dedication. “There’s a guy who’s got an issue that just won’t rest,” the governor said.
Yancey’s office sent out an email this week encouraging community members to pack the council chambers at the Wednesday session. The notice said, “City Councillor Charles C. Yancey has been advocating for a state-of-the-art high school for over 20 years. We should be there to support him and let his colleagues know that now is the time for our children to get the education they deserve. If you cannot come, send someone!”