Maura In The News

Hennigan eyeing future mayoral run
By Sasha Talcott, Globe Correspondent, 11/6/2003

Emboldened by her strong showing in Tuesday's election, Councilor Maura Hennigan said yesterday that she is contemplating a run for mayor and would back an attempt to oust Michael F. Flaherty as council president.

Hennigan, a 22-year council veteran known for her strong stands on controversial issues, had been thought to be in danger of losing her at-large seat. But she finished third in the race for four seats.

That showing, she said yesterday, gives her a "mandate" to promote an agenda ranging from forcing the city to set aside money for affordable housing to limiting the power of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Hennigan has long been thought of as a mayoral hopeful, but her voicing of the possibility yesterday could signal a newly invigorated mission on the council: to be a vocal critic of Mayor Thomas M. Menino as well as Flaherty, another possible mayoral contender.

Flaherty backed challenger Patricia H. White and Councilor Felix D. Arroyo in an apparent attempt to oust Hennigan in the recent campaign.

"This council president really tried to shut me out and shut me off," Hennigan said. "They just ignore me: `We're going to make her go away or pretend she's not there.' But when you get this kind of mandate, that makes it much more difficult."

Hennigan said she would encourage Councilor Felix D. Arroyo to run against the council president. But Arroyo, whose campaign received a boost from a last-minute endorsement by Flaherty, declined to say whether he would run or not. Flaherty also declined to comment yesterday.

Hennigan's third-place finish came as a surprise to election observers on Tuesday. Many had predicted that White would sail to victory, leaving Hennigan and Arroyo to battle it out for the last at-large council seat. Instead, Councilor Stephen J. Murphy finished fourth, White did not place, and Arroyo and Hennigan found themselves riding high.

"A lot of folks had already written her political obituary," said Lawrence S. DiCara, a former city councilor. "She obviously retains some of those solid political instincts she's had for a long time. She has a reservoir of strength."

Billing herself as the people's representative, Hennigan said she ran for council so that voters could have more access to their government. Most recently, she created a pothole-tracking website in a public attempt to force the city to make more road repairs.

But Hennigan's crusades have also led to public tangles with Menino on issues ranging from the city's disposal of dog carcasses to recent bid-rigging allegations against Inspectional Services Commissioner Kevin Joyce. In fact, some of Menino's staffers have grown so upset with her criticism that they privately nicknamed her "Maura the horror."

The bad blood goes back at least until 1993, when Hennigan lost a bid for the council presidency to Menino 7-6. The victory put Menino in line to be mayor when Raymond L. Flynn resigned to become ambassador to the Vatican.

Yesterday, Hennigan did not specify when she might run for mayor. She said she decided to jump into the at-large council race two years ago, after being a district councilor from Jamaica Plain for two decades, with an eventual run for the city's executive office in mind.

"I find it very interesting," she said. "When the opportunities present themselves in the future, hopefully I'll be judged on my record and what I've done."

Sasha Talcott can be reached at [email protected]

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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