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The Boston Globe

Will Felix Factor Spare Arroyo A Fight?


March 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The Boston Globe. All rights reserved. 

Two years ago, Felix Arroyo, a veteran neighborhood activist and onetime president of the Boston School Committee, finished almost 10,000 votes out of the money in his campaign for City Council, placing a distant fifth in the race for four at-large seats. But when former councilor Mickey Roache resigned in January after winning a county position, Arroyo inherited his seat.

Unproven as a big-league vote-getter, Arroyo is easily the most vulnerable of the four citywide councilors facing election this fall. While some thought that would generate a stampede of candidates to the at-large race, the campaign trail so far is empty of declared challengers. That may be just another sign of the malaise that has come over local politics in recent years. But it also could reflect some reluctance among would-be candidates to be the one trying to knock Boston's first Latino city councilor out of office.

"Nobody wants to be known as the guy who takes him out," said former city councilor Larry DiCara.

What's more, both of the prominent names that have been mentioned as possible council candidates offered a hand to helping Arroyo get in. State Representative Martin Walsh of Dorchester endorsed the 52- year-old Puerto Rico native in the 2001 election, while Greg Timilty, son of a well-known political family, did work on Arroyo's campaign.

Walsh, recently named by Speaker Tom Finneran to chair a new House committee on homeland security, ruled out a council run last week, saying he's fully committed to his State House work. He said hesitation to run against Arroyo played no part in his decision. But with at-large incumbents Michael Flaherty, Maura Hennigan, and Steve Murphy seen as safe bets for reelection, Walsh conceded that "Felix clearly is going to be in the battle for the fourth seat against whoever else runs."

Timilty, who met recently with Arroyo, said he's still considering a run, though he started a business eight months ago and is unsure whether the timing is right for a campaign. As for his relationship with Arroyo, Timilty, who sought a council seat in 1999, said, "I consider him a friend, so yeah, in that sense it factors in my decision."

For his part, Arroyo harbors no illusions about his shaky status. "Everyone knows I am the last one to come on the council," he said. "And in order for someone new to come, someone who is here has to leave."

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