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Two for the House
Progressive voters should unite behind Linda Dorcena Forry and Michael Moran

NEXT TUESDAY, VOTERS will have a rare opportunity to take the Massachusetts House in a more progressive direction. In the 12th Suffolk District, which comprises Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and parts of Milton, five Democrats are competing to succeed former House Speaker Tom Finneran, a social and fiscal conservative who retired to become president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. In the 18th Suffolk District, which snakes through Brookline, Brighton, Allston, and the Fenway, four Democrats seek the House seat recently vacated by Brian Golden, a Democrat-in-name-only who left to claim his reward in the form of a job in the Romney administration.

Trouble is, in each of the two special Democratic primaries that will be held next week, there is a real danger that progressive candidates will split the vote, thus sending conservatives Eric Donovan (in the 12th) and former Golden aide Greg Glennon (in the 18th) to the State House. In the 12th, the Phoenix endorses Linda Dorcena Forry, a smart, charismatic woman whose life story epitomizes what has come to be known as the "New Boston." In the 18th, our choice is Michael Moran, a neighborhood activist who nearly defeated Golden six and a half years ago. We urge voters in these districts to unite behind them, lest the seats fall into the hands of conservatives once again.

DORCENA FORRY is not the only attractive candidate in the 12th Suffolk. In particular, Stacey Monahan, an aide to US Representative Stephen Lynch, is well-informed and progressive on a wide range of issues. But Dorcena Forry matches Monahan on the issues ó both women favor same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and embryonic stem-cell research, and oppose the death penalty and further rollbacks in the state income tax. And Dorcena Forry brings other qualities to the table besides.

As a Haitian-American, she is a member of one of Bostonís largest and fastest-growing ethnic groups. (She speaks Creole fluently.) As a black woman, she seeks to represent a district that is 70 percent nonwhite. Her marriage to Bill Forry, an Irish-American newspaper publisher, uniquely brings together both the New and the Old Boston. And as the top aide to Charlotte Golar Richie, director of Bostonís Department of Neighborhood Development, Dorcena Forry is experienced in two of the most crucial issues facing urban communities: revitalizing neighborhoods and solving the affordable-housing shortage.

Dorcena Forry has a tendency to speak in generalities about creating a "new partnership" and working to "bring people together." But she exudes a refreshing sense of really meaning it. As a state legislator, she would likely be an active coalition-builder, reaching across racial, social, and ideological lines in a genuine attempt to solve problems and move the city and the state forward.

THE CHOICE in the 18th Suffolk is an exceedingly difficult one. Tim Schofield is an able newcomer with an intriguing background ó he is the product of a working-class Somerville family, an Army veteran of the first Persian Gulf war, and an openly gay man. We hope he will remain active in politics. But Michael Moran is the superior choice because of his past experience and his deep roots in the community.

Moran, a former chief-of-staff to City Councilor Steve Murphy, speaks with real passion about the challenge of talking with his conservative Catholic neighbors ó people he grew up with in many cases ó about his support for same-sex marriage, for abortion rights, and for embryonic-stem-cell research. He also opposes the death penalty and says he would not support rolling back the income tax any further ó and wonít rule out raising it if need be to pay for vital programs.

But Moran also harks back to an older form of liberalism that is rooted in his life experience. Asked to critique Republican governor Mitt Romney, for instance, Moran immediately cites Romneyís decision to deal with the stateís fiscal crisis partly by shutting down public swimming pools and skating rinks. Such recreation facilities, he notes, were all that was available to him and his friends when they were growing up. In todayís inner-city neighborhoods, they are even more vital as supervised places for kids to be able to spend time instead of hanging on the streets. Moran understands that in a way that the well-heeled governor simply canít appreciate.

Asked how he would deal with Harvard Universityís plans to expand in his district, Moran says he would draw on his background in fighting against some of Boston Collegeís expansion plans. Today, Moran says, BC is a better neighbor ó and he credits Harvard with taking a cooperative approach as well. And as with Dorcena Forry, Moranís experience in City Hall gives him insight into the workings of local government, which should prove valuable to his constituents.

This is the third time Moran has run for the House. The last time, in 1998, he lost to Golden by just 87 votes. If progressives get behind him this time, that could finally put him over the top.

You canít make a difference if you donít vote. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. next Tuesday, March 15. For information on where to vote, go to www.wheredoivotema.com. The winner in the 12th Suffolk District primary is assured of election, as there will be no other candidates on the April 12 ballot. The winner in the 18th Suffolk District will face two independent candidates in a special general election on April 12.

What do you think? Send an e-mail to letters[a]phx.com


Issue Date: March 11 - 17, 2005
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