Menino re-elected to historic fourth term

by Beacon Staff • November 9, 2005

Boston residents voted Tuesday to keep incumbent Mayor Thomas M. Menino on board for another term, which will make him the longest running mayor in city history if he serves out the full four-year period. Menino, who ran against Boston City Councilor at-Large Maura A. Hennigan, took 67.5 percent of the vote.

Ballots were also cast for the four city councilor at-large positions. Three of the four incumbent councilors were re-elected, with newcomer Sam Yoon filling Hennigan's vacancy. Yoon will join Stephen J. Murphy, Felix D. Arroyo and Michael F. Flaherty to serve the city of Boston for two years.

According to unofficial numbers from the city of Boston's elections Web site, 35.57 percent of the 272,817 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday.

Many students said there appeared to be little buzz about the city elections around the Emerson College campus, and many said they felt they didn't know enough about the candidates to vote.

Junior Emily Patrick, a writing, literature and publishing major who serves as the commissioner of off-campus students in the Student Government Association (SGA), said there had been discussion within her organization about setting up voter registration tables outside the Little Building dining hall. It never came to pass.

In past local and national election years, information was provided to students through such tables. In February of 2004, the Emerson Democrats set up a table in front of the dining hall to register students for the Massachusetts presidential democratic primary in March.

The Beacon reported in Sept. 2004 that less than 17 percent of American colleges and universities are following federal standards that encourage students to vote in elections, according to a survey conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Emerson Democrats President Samantha King said the organization originally planned to initiate a voting effort on campus, but nothing was done because of planning problems and lack of support.

"I am really surprised to see there's no talk on campus about the mayoral elections," said King, who is also a senior organizational and political communication major and vice president of the SGA.

King's group originally asked Dean of Students Ronald Ludman to send out an e-mail to all students, informing them about registering to vote in Massachusetts and absentee voting. Ludman did not send the mass e-mail, King said. Ludman was not immediately available for comment.

Both campaigns worked to garner student support. Menino and Hennigan spoke to students at an Oct. 12 forum hosted by the Boston Intercollegiate Government.

In October, Menino unveiled plans for what he dubbed alcohol-free "entertainment zones." These zones, which will be designated near popular nightspots such as Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Lansdowne Street, aim to gather college students and young people for eating, drinking and socializing without the presence of alcohol. The idea is still in the planning stage.

Menino, 62, Boston's first Italian-American mayor, will begin his fourth term, although according to The Boston Globe, he declared in 1993 he would serve just two terms. Menino held approval ratings exceeding 70 percent heading into Tuesday's election.

Hennigan, 53, was elected to the City Council in 1981, and according to her biography on the city of Boston's Web site, is "a strong supporter of [Boston] public schools."

While serving as an at-large councilor, she held positions as chair of the Hunger and Homelessness Committee and vice chair of the Employment and Workforce Development Committee.

Many students said they were aware of the elections but were busy with school and activities and could not find the time to educate themselves on the candidates or get to the polls Tuesday.

"In theory, it should be important to me, but I don't feel like I have a good enough understanding to make the vote," Jodie Jordan, a junior writing, literature and publishing major, said before the elections.

Senior Briana Carlson-Goodman said she had little information about the candidates.

"I have been so busy with everything that I don't even have time to find information about things that haven't been presented to me," Carlson-Goodman said.

Carlson-Goodman, a theatre studies major, said she is registered to vote in Massachusetts, but did not vote on Tuesday.

Carlson-Goodman said that since she is graduating in May and will most likely leave Boston, she is not as concerned with city issues.

Some students said they were deterred from voting because they are from out of state. Senior Caroline Azano, originally from Rhode Island and now living in Cambridge, said she was recently approached by volunteers who were signing people up to vote.

When she told them she was from out of state, Azano said they immediately moved on to the next person, failing to inform her that as a student she could sign up in Massachusetts as well.

Patrick, who grew up in Philadelphia, said she registered to vote in Massachusetts through a table outside the dining hall her sophomore year.

"They took care of everything and delivered it to where it needed to go," she said.

Patrick is now a voter in both states. When interviewed Monday, she said she planned on learning more about the candidates before voting. Yesterday, Patrick said that although she did vote, she was not as informed about the issues as she could have been.

"I did about 30 seconds of research before I voted [Tuesday]," Patrick said. "But hey, at least it was something."

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