We have all heard the stories of a young Jack Kennedy running for Congress in 1946 and marching in the Bunker Hill Parade with friends like Dave Powers and future state representative Gerry Doherty or meeting workers at the docks between shifts. Charlestown has always been proud of its political history. This past spring our little town broke a nearly 40-year drought by electing a “Townie” to political office.
Next Tuesday will be historic not just because Charlestown gets a chance to “re-elect” one of its own when we vote for State Representative Danny Ryan. But, as far as I can remember this may be the first time Charlestown has two hometown candidates on the ballot in two separate races. Maura Healy of Winthrop Street will appear on the ballot as a strong candidate for Attorney General.
I believe the last time two Charlestown residents were running for office in the same election was backin 1974 when both Bernie Kelly and Jimmy Cushman battled Dennis Kearney from East Boston for state representative in September 1974. It was one of the best races in Charlestown history with Kearney, from Eastie, being elected on that Primary Day.
Over the past few months, the candidates have crossed paths numerous times. While the Ryan campaign was in full special election mode this past winter, statewide candidates were busy collecting the necessary signatures to get on the ballot. The enthusiasm that both relative newcomers to elected office have generated this year should be a welcome sight for Charlestown voter turn out. Ryan, who has run in
two special elections, is now well versed in the art of pulling a base of voters together. Healey, a first-time candidate with a lengthy resume, has turned heads throughout the Commonwealth with her energy and polish on the stump.
This Election Day should be a melding of old and new Charlestown; a town that many outsiders believe is divided both politically and socially. As Ryan has claimed for years and has now proven twice, Charlestown residents of all types constantly come together for their community. With Healey running statewide, a Charlestown base is important, but not as critical as it would be in a more local race like State Representative. However, with Healey’s strong showing in the debates and the polls showing a dead heatfor Attorney General, Charlestown’s turn-out could be more relevant here than in any other statewide race in recent memory.
In any event, Charlestown’s proud political history is back. I am sure folks like Jimmy Cushman, Bernie Kelly, Billy McCabe, Dennis McLaughlin, Joe Barnes, Matty O’Neil Sr. and Bobby Wallace must be lookingdown and smiling at Charlestown being a political force to be reckoned with once again We will know next week if we’ll have two neighborhood candidates on the ballot in November. You can help make it possible. We never stopped being “Charlestown Strong”. Go Charlestown and let’s make history!