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Contest For Southie Seat

We go on the campaign trail with the two candidates competing in Tuesday's election to fill the City Council seat long held by Jim Kelly.

WBUR's Bianca Vazquez Toness has more.

TEXT OF STORY

BIANCA VAZQUEZ TONESS: Lifetime South Boston resident Bill Linehan is going door to door with two friends he's known since high school. His neighborhood has changed, but between the three of them, they know most people they meet.

DIANE MCCARTHY: Hey, Mr. Linehan, always a pleasure,

BILL LINEHAN: How's things? We're just out knockin' doors and asking people and reminding them to get out and vote on Tuesday.

MCCARTHY: You know that I'll be there. If you need someone to hold signs or anything, let me know.
I think you're a great individual. I look forward to seeing you in office very soon.
I know you have a lot to offer to this city.

LINEHAN: Thank you. I'm humbled by that. That's a lot of responsibility.

TONESS: Linehan came in first among five Southie candidates in the preliminary election last month. And now he's up against the overall top vote getter, Susan Passoni.
She's a former Wallstreet financial analyst who moved to the South End 13 years ago, and has volunteered in Boston since then.

LINEHAN: Clearly the advantage that I have is that I've been in government and in politics. I'm a professional at this. As she's a professional financial analyst, I'm a professional government civil servant, a political entity in this city.

TONESS: Linehan has worked at City Hall for years, most recently as the assistant to the Chief Operating Officer.
That bothers some Southie residents who aren't happy with his boss, Mayor Tom Menino.

LINEHAN: I think I can stand, and stand alone. AND people will vote for me in the end.
If some people hold their nose and do it. That's fine with me as long as they vote.

TONESS: He says his friendly relationship with the Mayor will help him represent the district, but he says he'll maintain his independence.

His top priorities include keeping young families in the district and he thinks improving schools, parks and community centers is the way to do that.

Passoni also wants people to be able to stay. She blames the exodus on
skyrocketing property taxes, and wants to shift some of the tax burden onto businesses which she says aren't paying their fair share.

Passoni says her career as a financial analyst will help her critique the city's budget. Although she ran against Jim Kelley for this seat two years ago, she's still considered a relative newcomer. She says that means she'll bring new ideas to City Hall.

SUSAN PASSONI: it was my biggest frustration when i ran in '05, I would ask, "Why is something this way? Why is trash collection three days in one neighborhood and one day in another?" "Because it's always been that way" was the answer I'd get. But because it's always been that way doesn't mean it's the right way or the most effective way.

TONESS: She's aware that her biggest hurdle is that she's not from South Boston.

PASSONI: I may not be from Boston, but I think I understand better the issues people face because I've really taken the time to roll up my sleeves.

TONESS: A lot of Passoni's research, has been at the doors of voters, mainly in Southie.

PASSONI: I'm very well, thank you for asking....I just wanted to make sure you were aware of my candidacy .and also see if you have any concerns or issues i should be aware of as a candidate...

Bob Capello moved to Southie four years ago from the South End. He's planning on voting for Passoni.

BOB CAPELLO: It's nice to see a woman in politics and she's young....and she's not from the old, white male school.

TONESS: Whoever wins this race will only be the second person to hold the seat since it was created in 1983. But come fall, he or she will be back on these streets defending the office in the regular election.

This program aired on May 14, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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