Felix G. Arroyo formally enters race to be next mayor of Boston; first Latino to run for job

Felix G.Arroyo seemed overwhelmed by shouts of approval from supporters as announced his candidacy for mayor of Boston.
Felix G.Arroyo seemed overwhelmed by shouts of approval from supporters as announced his candidacy for mayor of Boston.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Councilor at Large Felix G. Arroyo today formally declared his candidacy for mayor of Boston, making him the first Latino in the city’s history to run for the office.

“I have a decade of experience as [a union] organizer and as a public servant, right here in the city of Boston,’’ Arroyo told cheering supporters at the downtown headquarters of Service Employees International Union Local 615 where he once worked as the union’s political director. “I am happy to announce today that I will be a candidate for mayor.’’

Arroyo, who is a graduate of Boston’s public schools, added: “I am a son of Boston. I love my city. I love Boston. I believe in Boston because I know that by working together we can and we will move Boston forward. We’re going to have a lot of fun.’’

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He made his announcement backed by some 50 supporters who shouted in Spanish “Sí Se Puede’’ — Yes We Can — as he walked into the conference room. Arroyo said he announced his candidacy at the SEIU headquarters because it was where he learned to fight for pay for the security guards and janitors who comprise a significant part of the union’s membership.

Now a resident of Jamaica Plain, where he lives with his wife, Jasmine, Arroyo is the son of Felix D. Arroyo, the first Latino elected to the City Council. The younger Arroyo was born in the South End, grew up in Hyde Park, and graduated from Boston’s public schools.

During the 2011 election when he ran citywide, Arroyo received the second-most votes in the race for four at-large seats. Like other city councilors, Arroyo’s bid for mayor means he cannot simultaneously run for his at-large seat.

Arroyo currently has about $95,000 in his campaign account.

“I will raise enough to compete,’’ Arroyo said. “And since I plan on being the next mayor of Boston, I will raise enough to win.’’

The other candidates who have announced they are running for mayor are: Councilors John R. Connolly and Rob Consalvo; Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; state Representative Martin J. Walsh; and Bill Walczak, a founder of Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester.

Two other people, Will Dorcena and Charles Clemons, have also said they are running but have raised little money. Several other people have said publicly they are considering a campaign, a few of them black and Latino.

Only white men have served as Boston’s mayor.

When Arroyo was born, Boston was 68 percent white, non-Hispanic, according to data from the city’s office of new Bostonians. But, according to the 2010 Census, that figure has dropped to 47 percent. Nearly 25 percent of Boston residents identified as black or African-American; 17.5 percent were Latino; and almost 9 percent were Asian.

Arroyo addressed the demographic change today.

“Boston in my lifetime is the only Boston I know,’’ he said. “To me it’s not about a new Boston or an Old Boston, I only know one Boston. I know the city I grew up in. I know the city that I love. I know the city I plan to start a family in. That’s the Boston I know.’’

As a boy, he was often at City Hall with his father, who served as an education adviser and personnel director for Mayor Raymond L. Flynn. At age 20, Arroyo became director of constituent services for Chuck Turner, then a city councilor.

After taking office in 2010, Arroyo joined with Councilor Michael P. Ross, who is also weighing a bid for mayor, to demand that the city consider canceling contracts with firms based in Arizona after that state enacted a strict new immigration law.

Arroyo and others also pushed back successfully when the Menino administration tried to close several libraries.

Arroyo was an early and vocal proponent of the firefighters’ union when it faced off in a bitter contract dispute with the Menino administration. He and other councilors, including Ross, helped mediate a breakthrough bargaining session. The secret session was held at the headquarters of SEIU.