Althea Garrison’s time has finally come
Althea Garrison has lost so many political races in Boston over the last 37 years that she can’t even remember them all.
But now her luck may finally be changing. If Boston City Councilor Michael “Baby Flats” Flaherty is elected district attorney, as appears likely, he will resign from his $100,000-a-year City Hall sinecure. And the fifth-place finisher from last year’s election, Althea Garrison, will succeed him on the Council.
You’re pretty damn lucky, I told her Wednesday night. Aren’t you, Althea?
“After all these years,” she replied, “don’t you think it’s about time I had a little luck?”
Althea Garrison supports the Second Amendment, vociferously. She voted for Donald Trump. In 2016, when she was working for the state government, she had a picture above her workplace of Dr. Ben Carson. In other words, at City Hall she won’t just be one of the girls.
Her best shot is taking Flaherty’s seat, but she’s got other options for moving up as well. Another councilor, Ayanna Pressley, is running for Congress, and if she defeats Rep. Mike Capuano, Althea fills that open seat on the Council. Finally, Althea has filed for the special state Senate election that Linda Dorcena Forry just vacated, running as an independent,
I asked Althea to assess the odds that she’ll be in some political office by next year, if not sooner.
“About 87 percent,” she said.
Althea has spent a very long time preparing for her close-up. She first ran for the Council in 1981, when there were only nine members, all at-large. She was vying against, among others, Dapper O’Neil, Freddy Langone, Pat McDonough, Bruce Bolling, Joe Tierney, Jimmy Kelly and Chris Iannella, all of whom are now dead.
But Althea, at age 77, may be about to begin her rookie year on the Council. She’s the sole survivor.
For the record, Althea Garrison has one “w” on her permanent record. In 1992, she was running for state rep in Dorchester, as a Republican. The incumbent Democrat solon, one Nelson Merced, somehow messed up his nomination papers and was knocked off the ballot.
Althea got to run unopposed – always the best way to run! Alas, two years later, in the overwhelmingly Democrat district, she was ousted by Democrat Charlotte Golar Richie. And since then, it’s been one thing after another for Althea, one losing thing after another that is. The on-line city records only go back as far as 2005, so let’s look at her races.
In 2005, she ran at large and finished ninth. Then she decided to take on district councilor Charles Yancey – she finished third in 2007, 2009 and 2011. She ran at large again in 2013 and lost.
The four top finishers are elected to the Council. Last year Michelle Wu topped the ticket for 65,040 votes. Annisha E. George got the final slot, finishing fourth with 45,564, barely edging Althea, who got 18,253 votes.
After speaking with Althea for a few minutes, I felt I had to ask her one important question.
“Althea,” I said, “did you ever go by another name?”
“Let’s not go there please!” she said, and that’s okay by me. I’m not going there.
Meanwhile, Boston politics has a lot of moving parts right now. District Attorney Dan Conley is retiring, and I think we can all figure out why. He’s 59, and he wants to become a judge quickly, so he can get in his 10 years to max out his judicial pension before mandatory retirement at age 70.
And, in case you didn’t know, in addition to that sweet judicial pension, Conley will also be able to grab his monthly DA kiss in the mail, which I’m pretty sure he’s already fully vested in, being in the law-enforcement Class 4. (Thanks, Bill Delahunt!)
Gov. Charlie Baker owes Baby Flats, who backed him in 2014. So Tall Deval will try to find Conley a judicial slot ASAP, to create a vacancy in the DA’s office that Tall Deval gets to fill with… Baby Flats.
If Tall Deval moves fast enough, Baby Flats will get to appear on the September primary ballot as an incumbent.
And Althea Garrison will become a city councilor — $100,000 a year. Not bad for someone who was making “a lousy 53 or 54 thousand a year,” before she says her bosses in state government asked her to retire. Althea says she refused, and is now collecting unemployment. But probably not for long.
I think we have identified one of the recurring themes at next month’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston. It’s Althea time!