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Key legislators endorse Forry

In her race against two challengers for the vacated First Suffolk District state senate, Linda Dorcena Forry is leaving little to chance.

Howard Manly

In her race against two challengers for the vacated First Suffolk District state senate, Linda Dorcena Forry is leaving little to chance.

During a wide-ranging interview with the Bay State Banner, Forry detailed her door-to-door campaigning in the state’s most diverse district, which stretches from the more conservative sections of South Boston to liberal-leaning sections of Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park.

Forry recalled her first election in 2005 after the sudden departure of then Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran, who resigned after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice charges. There were several candidates for the 12th Suffolk district state house seat during the special election, and Forry managed to win her first election.

“I can remember knocking on doors of people who had my opponents’ signs in their front yards,” she said. “The way I see it, we are all neighbors.”

The first generation Haitian American woman learned progressive politics in the early 1990s when she worked as a legislative aide for rising political star and then State Rep. Charlotte Golar-Richie, elected in 1994.

But she already knew the neighborhoods of her district growing up in Dorchester.

She attended St. Kevin Grammar School and Monsignor Ryan Memorial High School in Dorchester before graduating from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management in 1997. She is now a candidate for a master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (2013).

At the State House, Forry serves as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business.

Forry is now seeking the vacant state senate seat in the First Suffolk District that was left when Jack Hart, a South Boston native, stepped down to take a job in the private sector. Hart held the First Suffolk seat from 2002 until 2013. He was preceded by current U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, a South Boston native who held the seat from 1996 to 2001. Lynch was preceded by South Boston native and Senate President William Bulger, who held the seat for 25 years from 1971 through 1996.

Also now vying for the seat are South Boston’s 4th Suffolk District Rep. Nick Collins, 30, and Maureen Dahill, 43, who is considered a long shot and is best known for her local blog “Lost In Southie.”

The Special Election for the district seat is on April 30. On the Republican side is challenger Joseph Ureneck, a Dorchester businessman.

Despite repeated attempts, Collins refused to answer questions from the Bay State Banner. Collins also refused to participate in a survey by the NAACP New England Area Conference (NEAC), which gave him a “F” in the civil rights organization’s legislative report card.

“Rep. Collins failed to respond to NEAC’s letter,” stated Juan Cofield, NEAC president. “His failure to respond would suggest a substandard grade since NEAC has no way to evaluate his understanding of the issues important to the communities of color.”

Collins voted for the controversial “three strikes bill,” which was, according to Cofield, “contrary to the overwhelming desire of communities of color.”

Forry, on the other hand, received an “A+” for her legislative voting record, including a ‘no’ vote on the three strikes bill and another ‘no’ vote on the EBT reform bill.

She also received credit for sponsoring a measure that assessed diversity in the workforce and gaming industry.

More important, Forry has earned the respect of her colleagues on Beacon Hill.

Among the elected officials who are supporting Rep. Forry’s candidacy are: Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Rep. Michael Moran, Rep. Byron Rushing, Rep. Russell Holmes, Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, Rep. Liz Malia, Rep. Carlos Henriquez, Rep. Gloria Fox, Sheriff Steve Tompkins, City Councillor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, City Councillor-at-Large Felix Arroyo and City Councillor Tito Jackson.

“I am honored to have the support of my colleagues from both city and state government at my side,” said Forry. “They know first-hand the work I’ve done on Beacon Hill and in our communities to improve the quality of life for all Bostonians.”

State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz — who represents the Second Suffolk district — said she is eager to have Rep. Forry join her in the Senate chamber this year. “Linda Dorcena Forry is one of the most effective and accomplished state lawmakers on Beacon Hill,” Chang-Diaz said in a statement.

Rep. Michael Moran worked alongside Rep. Forry as chairman of the House Redistricting Committee in 2011-12.

“We know that Linda is one of the hardest working and most dedicated people on Beacon Hill — and also one of the nicest people in government that you will ever meet,” Moran stated. “Linda cares about her constituents and never forgets why she’s up here.”

Councillor-at-Large Felix Arroyo, who recently announced his candidacy for Boston mayor, said that Rep. Forry’s experience in both city and state government over the last two decades makes her qualified to fill the now-vacant Senate seat.

“Linda is an experienced legislator whose desire to serve comes from her commitment to community,” Arroyo said. “She has always and will always put people first.”

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins sang her praises as well.

“Rep. Forry moved up quickly into leadership positions in the Legislature, because her peers recognized that she has special skills in building consensus and finding solutions to difficult problems,” Tompkins said. “As chair of the Committee on Community Development and Small Business, Linda didn’t wait for advocates to bring their ideas to state government. She led a statewide tour to go out to Main Streets all over the Commonwealth. She came back with real solutions, passed new laws to help small businesses create new jobs. This is real leadership.”