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Tucked away in a quiet corner of Roxbury, the Highland Park section of Fort Hill is lined with stately brownstones, rambling gardens, and campaign signs showing political allegiances as diverse as the neighborhood’s population. Fences and yard signs still advertise support for an array of unsuccessful mayoral candidates, including Charlotte Golar Richie, John Barros, and City Councilors Mike Ross and Felix G. Arroyo.
What united voters here in last week’s preliminary election was not a shared loyalty to one candidate, but a collective aversion to two — the eventual winners. Eighty-eight percent of voters in this progressive precinct backed someone other than state Representative Martin J. Walsh or Councilor at Large John R. Connolly. Located within the broad swath of Boston’s inner city where neither finalist claimed victory, Fort Hill is among the precincts where both had their weakest showings. Of 261 votes cast for mayor in this precinct last week, only four went to Walsh.
As he and Connolly head toward the Nov. 5 general election, competing in the first wide-open race for mayor in 30 years, both candidates will be mining votes in neighborhoods like Fort Hill that previously rebuffed them. And the debate will shift and narrow as they attempt to distinguish themselves to voters who previously weren’t willing to give them much thought.
“Neither of those two guys really spoke to me,” said Nicholas Knoblauch, a 25-year-old research associate at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “I guess now I’m going to pick one.”