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Dorcena Forry's Senate primary victory reflects changing South Boston, some residents say

Posted by Roy Greene  May 1, 2013 04:58 PM

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(Kayana Szymczak/Globe Staff)


Nancy Knowlton (left, with Mimi Augustin) said she was pulling for Dorcena Forry and is happy with the results. “She’s a hard worker and isn’t part of the entrenched system,” said the 56-year-old bookkeeper.

Representative Linda Dorcena Forry‘s victory in the First Suffolk Senate primary means that a position held by South Boston politicians for decades is likely to shift southward. Her narrow victory over Representative Nick Collins in Tuesday’s vote reflects the changes that have altered South Boston in recent years, residents said today, and many welcomed the shift.

If Dorcena Forry wins in June against little-known Republican contender Joseph Ureneck of Dorchester, she will be the first woman and person of color to represent the district, which also includes Dorchester, Mattapan, and a sliver of Hyde Park.

“I think you have to acknowledge South Boston has changed extraordinarily,” Ann Connolly Tolkoff, a 64-year-old South Boston native who currently resides in Brookline, said this afternoon outside Sullivan’s restaurant on Castle Island.

“The young people are moving in, and they aren’t voting like they use too,” said Tolkoff, a retired educator.

The seat was most recently held by Jack Hart, a longtime community advocate who left his post to take a job with a local law firm. Before Hart, who became a state senator in 2002, the seat was held by Stephen Lynch, now a US representative, from 1996-2001, and before that by William Bulger from 1971 to 1996. All three are natives of the seaside community.

At the park benches on Castle Island, where South Bostonians gather to walk, savor the sea breezes, and gossip, Bill Barrett, 65, adknowledged he had been pulling for Collins, who is from the neighborhood.

“I thought Collins should have won it,” said Barrett. “It’s been a long-time since that seat has left South Boston, but she [Dorcena Forry] seems like a nice lady.”

Barrett said the neighborhood and district are different from the one he remembers as a young man, but that change isn’t always bad.

“Change can be good,” said Barrett, who is retired. “There are a lot of young people moving into South Boston, but I think Dorchester also wanted a voice, too.”

Others though believed if it wasn’t for Maureen Dahill, a South Boston entrepreneur who also ran, the race might have had a different outcome.

“I think she [Dahill] was a spoiler,” said Paul McNiff, a 55-year-old retired South Boston resident as he strolled along the Castle Island footpath.

McNiff, who said he liked Collins for his “style,” also said there are a lot of new people moving into the traditionally insular neighborhood.

“There are a lot of out-of-towners moving in; it’s not the same neighborhood anymore,” added McNiff.

Back at Sullivan’s Nancy Knowlton, a Dorchester resident, said she was pulling for Dorcena Forry and is happy with the results.

“She’s terrific. She’s a hard worker and isn’t part of the entrenched system,” said the 56-year-old bookkeeper.

Knowlton was, however, quick to point out that Dorcena Forry’s win isn’t a “one-over” on South Boston.

“I think she’s the real deal and does a good job at representing all of Boston,” said Knowlton.

Patrick D. Rosso can be reached at patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com.

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