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On Boston’s City Council, John R. Connolly shows determination and sharp elbows

John Connolly took his campaign to the same audience in Roxbury  on Thursday.
John Connolly took his campaign to the same audience in Roxbury on Thursday.

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Barbara Martinez found herself losing a battle last year against Boston’s school bureaucracy. A single working mother from Roslindale, she was fighting to ensure her two young daughters could attend the same local grammar school.

Then Martinez heard City Councilor John R. Connolly speak at a community meeting.

“When he left, I chased after him,” Martinez recalled, her tone recalling the desperation of the moment. “He really got it. He really seemed to understand how unfair it was.”

During his six years on the council, Connolly has used his office as a platform to push for changes in the city’s Byzantine school assignment system, revamp the teachers’ contract, and expose waste and mismanagement in school cafeterias.

But his passion can also surface as a temper.

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