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The paths of Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his challenger, Councilor At Large Maura Hennigan, crossed briefly yesterday outside Curtis Hall Community Center in Jamaica Plain.
The paths of Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his challenger, Councilor At Large Maura Hennigan, crossed briefly yesterday outside Curtis Hall Community Center in Jamaica Plain. (Barry Chin/ Globe Staff)

A fourth term for Menino

Hennigan falls; Flaherty, Arroyo, Yoon, Murphy top council race

(Correction: Because of an editing error, a list of contributors to a story in yesterday's City & Region section about mayoral elections in the Boston area misspelled the name of Katheleen Conti of the Globe staff.)

Mayor Thomas M. Menino won a fourth term yesterday, trouncing veteran city councilor Maura Hennigan in an election that also saw voters elect Boston's first Asian-American city councilor.

The election puts Menino, 62, who took office in 1993, in line to become Boston's longest serving mayor at the end of his term.

Menino beat Hennigan by more than 2 to 1, picking up 67.5 percent of the vote to her 32 percent. He declared victory a half hour after the polls closed at 8 p.m. In 2001, he won reelection by an even wider margin, 72 percent to 23 percent.

Saying ''we can stand tall, but we cannot stand still," Menino pledged to infuse new energy into his 12-year-old administration, shaking up his staff and bringing in new talent. He also vowed to close the achievement gap between minority and white students in the public schools and revitalize the city's waterfront.

''Tomorrow things will be different," Menino said to hundreds of campaign workers gathered at the Fairmont Copley Plaza for his victory party. ''The voters have a new expectation for us. You have new hopes for me. And I have new dreams for this city."

In a hotly contested race for four at-large City Council seats, council president Michael F. Flaherty and Councilor at Large Felix D. Arroyo placed first and second, and newcomer Sam Yoon came in third, making him the city's first-Asian American elected official. Incumbent councilor Stephen J. Murphy placed fourth, fending off a challenge by newcomer John Connolly, who had finished a surprising third in the Sept. 27 preliminary. Connolly placed fifth, followed by Matt O'Malley, Patricia White, and Edward Flynn.

In a closely watched mayor's race in Lawrence, incumbent Michael J. Sullivan easily defeated Marcos Devers, who was seeking to become the first elected Latino mayor in Massachusetts history.

Despite efforts by Menino and other candidates to get out the vote, turnout in Boston was only 35.5 percent, slightly lower than in 2001.

But voting was heavier than usual in minority neighborhoods, where Menino workers yesterday were calling voters and knocking on doors. Turnout was also high in West Roxbury, where several city council candidates, including Connolly, were putting in extra effort. In Chinatown, voting was also heavy, reflecting Yoon's strength among Asian voters.

Hennigan conceded the election at 10:20 last night, telling her supporters that ''I want to let you know I said to him: 'Take good care of the city, because this city deserves that.'

''We will show that to be a mayor, performance counts, and you need to be accountable and we have made this administration accountable," she said to about 100 cheering supporters. ''You stood up against a powerful incumbent. . . . We have changed the city, and the city will never go back to where it was again."

A 24-year veteran of the council, she won only 10 of the city's 254 precincts, in Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, and South Boston, according to unofficial results.

Hennigan, 53, was outpaced by Menino in both money and name recognition and struggled to find issues that resonated with voters. When she couldn't raise money from outside donors, she mortgaged her own real estate and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her campaign.

Her campaign was largely negative, blaming the longtime incumbent for the city's high cost of living and its rising crime rate. In a television ad that incensed the Menino administration, she accused the mayor of putting the city at risk for nuclear and terrorist attacks by failing to devise a comprehensive disaster contingency plan.

Menino, convinced that her accusations wouldn't stick, largely ignored her. In the only televised debate of the campaign season, Hennigan attacked him for nearly an hour. He absorbed the blows, without fighting back.

After being criticized for his lackluster performance in the televised debate, he tried a different tack. In a radio debate, Menino acted indignant when Hennigan blamed his administration for the failures that resulted in the fatal police shooting of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove after a Red Sox playoff game.

Both candidates yesterday crisscrossed the city, stopping to greet voters at polling places.

''The demographics of the city have changed dramatically," Menino said yesterday afternoon as he shook hands with voters outside the St. Matthew & the Redeemer Episcopal Church in South Boston.

''I predict I'll win," he added. ''But I don't care what the numbers are. I don't pay attention to the numbers."

Hennigan also predicted victory. ''I have a really good feeling," she said before the results were tallied. ''The turnout in my former district [West Roxbury-Jamaica Plain] is higher than citywide. We think that's a good sign. The feedback has been great. People are giving me the thumbs up. They're thanking me for running. They're saying: 'Thank God for doing this. We need change.' "

Outside polling places yesterday, some voters were already looking ahead to the mayor's next term.

Lillian Clark, a 29-year-old student at Bunker Hill Community College, said she hopes that whoever becomes mayor tackles street violence. ''They should have more police and also just try to get more people out for crime watch so people take more responsibility for one another," she said.

Todd Whelan, a member of the Pipefitters Union, said he backed Menino. ''Local 537 of the Pipefitters of Boston asked me to vote for him; I just hope he supports the union," Whelan said.

Former city councilor and mayoral candidate Lawrence DiCara said Menino's strong showing will give him a mandate to overhaul city government.

''He's looking for what his legacy is going to be," said DiCara, who serves on a board appointed by the mayor. ''He may take the opportunity to do things, make some bold moves that he's been reluctant to make. Some suggest he'll put in some new folks where before he may have been reluctant to do so.

The election was only the second since the city settled a US Department of Justice lawsuit alleging violations of the federal voting rights act, and dozens of observers monitored the election to make sure the city complied with the settlement. The settlement requires the city to submit to federal scrutiny during elections and provide more bilingual help to voters.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund found several alleged violations, according to spokeswoman Shirley Lin. Among the problems, she said, were poll workers who did not provide Chinese and Vietnamese voter assistance materials unless requested, or kept them out of voters' reach. At two precincts, required sample Chinese ballots were not available, she said.

Menino spokesman Seth Gitell said the election department had received no such complaints.

''The election department has been in touch with the Department of Justice and Secretary[of State William] Galvin throughout the day, dealing with issues as they arise," Gitell said.

Information from Cristina Silva and Raja Mishra of the Globe staff and from Globe correspondents Chase Davis, Emma Stickgold, Michael Levenson, and Kristen Green was used in this report.

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