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Bill Owens endorses Yoon's candidacy

Banner Staff | 8/5/2009, 5:28 a.m.

Former state Sen. Bill Owens has thrown his support behind Sam Yoon’s mayoral candidacy, saying the at-large city councilor would “bring a fresh approach to City Hall.”

“Sam Yoon understands that real leadership means bringing people together to solve the problems facing the city,” Owens said in a statement distributed by the Yoon campaign on Sunday.

Owens said he believed his endorsement of Yoon would be the first of many in Boston’s African American community as the 39-year-old continues his campaign to unseat longtime incumbent Mayor Thomas M. Menino this November.

“There will be a lot of people in this community standing up with Sam Yoon, but I wanted to be one of the first,” said Owens.

Joining Menino and Yoon in the race are City Councilor-at-Large Michael F. Flaherty and South End businessman Kevin McCrea.

Yoon called Owens’ endorsement “an enormous honor.”

“I am so proud to have the support of Senator Owens in my campaign for mayor,” said Yoon. “The work that he has done and the legacy that he has left in this community are tremendous.”

A native of Demopolis, Ala., Owens came to prominence in the late 1960s as director of the Community Education Project of the Urban League, cofounder of the Boston Education Alliance and director of Jobs and Employment for Self-Improvement, a statewide program sponsored by the University of Massachusetts.

Owens entered the Legislature in 1972 as the state representative from Mattapan’s Ward 14. Two years later, he bested fellow state Rep. Royal Bolling Sr. to become the first senator from the newly formed Second Suffolk District.

He held the seat until 1982, when he changed courses, ran as a registered Republican and was upended by Bolling. Owens later returned to the Democratic Party, recapturing the Second Suffolk seat in 1988 before being upset in 1992 by Dianne Wilkerson after a contentious campaign. In 1997, he mounted an unsuccessful bid to oust Charles C. Yancey from his District 4 City Council seat.

In the state Senate, Owens led efforts to secure appropriations for building of Roxbury Community College and the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. He also sponsored legislation that created the State Office of Minority Business Assistance and the Minority Health Commission, among other accomplishments.