Eyes on Roxbury in mayor’s race

Boston, MA 110213 Mayoral candidate John Connolly (cq) greeted parents during the opening of No Books No Balls basketball program at Orchard Park K-8 School in Roxbury, Saturday, November 2 2013. (Globe Staff/Wendy Maeda) section: Metro slug: 03mayorissues reporter:
John R. Connolly greeted parents during a basketball program at Orchard Park K-8 School in Roxbury on Saturday.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

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On an open lot littered with makeshift campaign signs, Grove Hall activist Joseph Chevalier handed out campaign literature and hope: The city is changing, he said. In the first open mayor’s race in a generation, Boston’s long-neglected inner city has become the political battleground.

“I just have to now find a way to get this energy and maintain it,” said Chevalier, a Malden property owner who recently moved his family to Roxbury to work with city youth.

But soon, he encountered voter Alicia Hopkins, who expressed deep cynicism. Yes, she will vote, but for a write-in candidate, rather than supporting one of the two finalists now showering Roxbury with attention. Both already hold public office, she noted. Where have they been all these years? “I think they’re just merely looking for the vote,” Hopkins said.

In Roxbury, a neighborhood rarely regarded as a political stronghold, voters are divided not only on their pick for mayor, but on their sudden status as a valued voting bloc in Tuesday’s election. While some see their prominence as a welcome sign that Roxbury is rising, along with new buildings in Dudley Square and property values in Fort Hill, others remain deeply suspicious of the candidates’ attentiveness and are wary of being used.

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