Globe staff photo/Bill Greene
On the final day before the preliminary election, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his three challengers crisscrossed the city today in a final burst to sway voters in the first competitive mayoral race in 16 years.
Tuesday's vote will narrow the mayor’s race from four candidates to two and the field for at-large City Council seats from 15 to eight. After a sometimes sleepy slog through the summer, interest in the mayor’s race seems to be rising, as challengers Sam Yoon, Michael F. Flaherty Jr., and Kevin McCrea hammer Menino over the quality of the schools, uneven development, and the mayor’s controlling style.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The second round of voting takes place in November.
Yoon was out at the Dudley Square MBTA Station, the K-Club Super Bingo luncheon at Florian Hall in Dorchester, a nursing home in Mattapan, on Washington Street in Chinatown, the Jackson Square MBTA Station in Jamaica Plain, and a senior building near the West End.
Inside Florian Hall, Yoon’s father, Won, passed out carnations to some of the hundreds of seniors who were gathered for the K-Club Luncheon and bingo game. Councilor Maureen E. Feeney was there, too, passing out pens printed with her name, as were city council candidates Bill Trabucco and Felix G. Arroyo, who were greeting voters.
Yoon worked the room, giving seniors big hugs and handshakes. Taking a microphone, he thanked the crowd “for all the support you’ve given me over the years."
“I ask you to give me the chance to continue this campaign for the next six weeks,” Yoon said.
“I’m expecting a good turnout,” Yoon told reporters outside the hall. “I think there are a lot of folks in our city who have never even voted for mayor who are excited about this election, and I’m feeling that all across our city.”
Behind the scenes, Yoon's campaign was ramping up its get-out-the-vote efforts. Volunteers would be “dressing” polling stations with campaign signs throughout the night and handing out campaign literature at the stations today, said Jim Spencer, Yoon’s strategist.
In addition, Yoon recorded a robo-call today that was blasted to 60,000 infrequent voters – part of Yoon’s effort to drive up turnout among voters who have paid more attention to national and state politics than to local races, Spencer said. The campaign also sent out targeted robo-calls; former state Senator Bill Owens, for example, recorded a message for Yoon that was sent to voters in predominantly African-American precincts, Spencer said. And the campaign was blasting out e-mails with videos targeted to specific neighborhoods, he said.
Without the union backing of the other campaigns, “We don’t have the same number of troops, but our people are very dedicated, so we’ll see what happens,” Spencer said.
Some voters were genuinely wrestling with their decisions.
“I love Menino,” said Marie Frank, an 80-year-old retired nurse from Dorchester, who was at the K-Club luncheon and said she was undecided. “I’ve loved him for years. But I’d like to see a change and I’m thinking about voting for Yoon. I do think we need some changes.”
Dennis Glynn, 70, a retired postal service supervisor, said he was also torn about whom to vote for in the mayor's race.
“I’m undecided,” he said as he walked into Florian Hall. “But I may lean towards Flaherty, because of the e-mailgate. The mayor doesn’t think there’s anything to it.”
Flaherty stopping in a businesses in Adams Village, in Dorchester, on Center Street in Jamaica Plain, and later was going to South Boston and West Roxbury.
Menino was at the Foley Senior Center in Mattapan and was stopping in at Hyde/Jackson Square businesses in Jamaica Plain. McCrea was also out and about greeting voters.
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