Four of Bill Linehan’s colleagues on the Boston City Council are endorsing his challenger, Suzanne Lee, in the hotly contested race to represent District 2, which includes South Boston and Chinatown.
Tito Jackson, the District 7 councilor, Ayanna Pressley, an at-large councilor seeking a third term, and former mayoral candidates Michael Ross and Felix Arroyo are all backing Lee.
In supporting Lee over Linehan, the councilors highlighted her innovative leadership in education and community activism, and her track record as someone who can unify people. Ross hailed Lee’s experience as a former teacher and principal of a turnaround school that serves at-risk students, saying she has “an inclusive approach” that would work well on the council.
“Suzanne Lee has been committed to strengthening her community for all residents through a lifetime of public service,’’ Ross said. “I am proud to support her.”
But a defiant Linehan fired back at his colleagues, saying their endorsement speaks more about them than it does about him. He said he stands up for what his constituents believe in, and will continue to fight for their causes.
“I think that riles some of my colleagues in the City Council,’’ Linehan said in a statement. “They want someone who they can steamroll and that will never be me. Their endorsement of my opponent tells me that I’m doing my job the right way.’’
Lee’s campaign has painted the endorsements as a major coup in her second bid to unseat Linehan, who has held the post for six years. Two years ago, Lee lost by only 97 votes for the district that also includes the South End, Beacon Hill, Bay Village and downtown.
Linehan has been trying to secure his seat by getting the word out about his achievements on the council.
Lee did not respond to Linehan’s take on the endorsement, but hailed the councilors’ backing as proof of her advocacy and community work.
“I think it’s great to get the ... city councilors’ endorsement,’’ she said. “I am very humbled and very respectful of their work and the fact that they think I would make a great city councilor.”
Jackson insists that he is supporting Lee and not opposing Linehan. He said her impressive credentials as an educator would fill a void on the council, particularly around education issues.
“She is a well-regarded educator,’’ Jackson said. “I believe Suzanne Lee would be a uniter that would bring Chinatown and South Boston and the South End ... together. I also believe that a City Council should be reflective of the diversity that we see in the city. I think she is a strong reflection of that.”
Both Jackson and Arroyo said they notified Linehan of their decisions and had not seen Linehan’s biting response to their endorsement. Arroyo said he is backing Lee because she is a long-time family friend who has rallied around the issues he has championed.
“Clearly he is entitled to his views,’’ Arroyo said of Linehan. “But my support for Suzanne is based on [the fact] that I’ve known her for my entire life. She has been a strong progressive for many years, and as a strong progressive myself I am happy to support progressive candidates.”
Lee’s campaign says other elected officials have endorsed her, including state Senator Sonya Chang-Diaz, state Representative Byron Rushing, and former mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie.
“Suzanne has a long history of bringing people together to solve tough problems-- and she has a strong record to prove it,’’ Chang-Diaz said in statement. “I’m very excited for what she’ll accomplish on the council.”