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O'Malley wins race for Boston City Council seat

Posted by Joe Allen-Black  November 16, 2010 09:45 PM

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Matthew J. O’Malley, the young, hand-picked successor to John Tobin, will take his place on the Boston City Council after a convincing victory over James W. Hennigan today in the race for the vacant Sixth District seat.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting tonight, O’Malley had garnered 59.9 percent of the vote to top Hennigan, who received 39.5 percent.

“I’m just absolutely elated. We ran a strong, positive grass roots campaign, and I’m so humbled and so honored,” O’Malley said tonight, before joining his victory party. “I cannot wait to get to work.”

O’Malley joins a busy City Council that has to decide the fate of Chuck Turner, the councilor who was convicted on federal corruption charges. The council also has to decide on a new president as term limits will end Michael P. Ross’s turn in the chair.

The victor gathered with more than 100 supporters tonight at the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Plain.

O’Malley and Hennigan emerged as the favorites in what was originally a five-person race. They advanced to the finals after placing first and second respectively in the Oct. 19 preliminary election.

The 31-year-old O’Malley never looked back. Tobin endorsed him quickly after news broke in July that he would leave the council to take a senior-level post at Northeastern University. O’Malley captured more than 52 percent of the preliminary vote and rode that head of steam into tonight's election.

O’Malley is a Roslindale native and Boston Latin School alum. He is also a seasoned political veteran, despite his age. O’Malley interned for the City Council at age 16 and has mounted two failed bids for a citywide seat, including his first race at age 23, headquartered in his parents’ Roslindale basement. He has also stepped behind the scenes and helped run winning campaigns for other politicians.

Hennigan came out of the preliminary race motivated, but in the end, he could not match O’Malley’s dollars or grassroots ability to get out the vote in the expansive district.

The Sixth District consists of Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and parts of Roslindale and Mission Hill.

Hennigan, of West Roxbury, is a political legacy who had been endorsed by Councilors at Large Felix Arroyo and Steve Murphy, as well as the influential International Association of Firefighters Local 718 and several other labor unions.

A 56-year-old insurance salesman, Hennigan is the brother of Maura Hennigan, who represented the district before Tobin and who ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Thomas M. Menino in 2005. His father, James W. Hennigan Jr., was a state representative for Jamaica Plain.

Voters trickled in this afternoon at the Spring Street Community Room in West Roxbury, one of the polling places for the district’s 34 precincts.

“Matt O’Malley,” declared Susan Deugenio after casting her ballot. “I’ve known him for years. I know the family, and he’s a really good person.”

Deugenio said her daughter knows O’Malley from Boston Latin. She also likes the fact that he works “for the betterment of animals.”

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