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Yoon is joining Flaherty as deputy

Menino aide criticizes tactic

By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / September 29, 2009

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Councilor at Large Sam Yoon, fresh off his vanquished bid for mayor of Boston, will run as Michael F. Flaherty Jr.’s deputy mayor, joining forces with his one-time rival to unseat Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Flaherty campaign said last night.

Flaherty and Yoon will announce the unusual partnership at a joint press conference this morning at 10:15 on City Hall Plaza. “By standing together . . . we are showing Boston that a Flaherty-Yoon administration will embrace good ideas, even if they originate from former rivals,’’ Flaherty said in an e-mail to supporters.

He added that he now supports one of Yoon’s signature proposals: term limits for the office of mayor. “We will put an end to the ‘mayor for life’ culture that has held Boston back,’’ said Flaherty, also a councilor at large. “Together, we will create a city for us.’’

Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Menino campaign, blasted the nascent ticket as an illegal gimmick. He said the position of deputy mayor does not exist in the city charter, so Yoon’s name could not appear on the ballot in the final election Nov. 3.

“This is a blatant attempt to confuse the voters of Boston, because implying that he’s going to run for deputy mayor is something that exists outside of the bounds of the law,’’ Martin said yesterday. “These are desperate tactics by a desperate individual. This seems to be both councilors saying if they can’t win their way, they’ll try to reinvent the rules.’’

The partnership represents a bold political gambit in the final weeks of the mayoral campaign. Menino won the preliminary mayoral election on Sept. 22 with 50.5 percent of the vote, beating Flaherty, who had 24 percent; Yoon, who had 21 percent; and South End businessman Kevin McCrea, with 4 percent. The numbers suggest that even if Flaherty and Yoon were to unite their supporters behind a single ticket, they would still face a tough fight to topple Menino.

Asked yesterday about a Flaherty-Yoon ticket, former city councilor Maura A. Hennigan, who ran against Menino in the 2005 mayor’s race, laughed and said, “Never a dull moment, huh?’’ She said she had never heard of two people running as a ticket for mayor of Boston, unlike the tickets that run for governor and lieutenant governor and president and vice president.

Hennigan said that unless Flaherty changes the city charter, he would have to appoint Yoon as deputy mayor and would retain the power to dismiss him if the partnership soured. She said the last Boston mayor to use deputy mayors was Kevin H. White.

Hennigan also noted that Flaherty and Yoon have some sharp disagreements over policy. Yoon ran on a campaign to weaken the powers of mayor, saying the system, no matter who served as mayor, is fundamentally broken and unfair to the public. Yoon also called for a return to a partially elected School Committee. Flaherty never embraced that proposal.

“It will be interesting to see what they’re going to do about their differences,’’ Hennigan said.

Yoon and Flaherty also come from very different political pedigrees. Flaherty is a South Boston native and the son of a longtime former state representative, who grew up steeped in the ward politics of past generations. Yoon is a South Korean immigrant who spent years in the nonprofit sector, seeking to increase affordable housing.

But Yoon and Flaherty also share some important commonalities. Both cast themselves as torch bearers for a new generation of Bostonians. They have embraced similar proposals to modernize government, by making services available online and by using technology to analyze the efficiency at City Hall.