Briefings: Swan Trumpets Lederman and His Council Bid…
SPRINGFIELD—With a more competitive than expected race for City Council rapidly developing here, at-large City Council candidate Jesse Lederman sought to foment further momentum by rolling out high-profile political support. State Representative Benjamin Swan endorsed the young, upstart candidate, whose campaign has drawn attention in a city notoriously unfriendly to challengers.
“I’ve been watching Jesse a long time,” Swan told reporters before a crowd of Lederman supporters at the Naismith Memorial in Mason Square, and “I’ve been impressed by him!” The site, which marks Dr. James Naismith’s invention of basketball nearby, carried significance as its restoration took place shortly after Lederman called for repairs to the once-derelict monument.
“It is an honor to be standing by this historic monument and receiving the endorsement of such an esteemed advocate for Springfield,” Lederman said in prepared remarks, adding he hoped to “bring the same caliber of representation” to the Council as Swan had to Beacon Hill since his election in 1994.
State legislators’ endorsements in city races are hardly rare. They can be politically dicey territory for reps—especially council at-large races wherein all incumbents and challengers essentially compete against each other.
Such was not the case here. Swan, in whose district Lederman, a McKnight resident, lives, said he had seen the council candidate grow up and become an advocate for the neighborhood and an ally on issues important to the black community.
“He’ll be a positive addition to the City Council,” Swan told WMassP&I.
When asked by reporters, Swan insisted his move was about backing Lederman and not a slight against any sitting councilor. Still, there is no love lost between Swan and one councilor, Bud Williams. Their relationship has been on the skids since Williams challenged Swan’s reelection in 2002. Williams is said to still covet Swan’s seat. The latter’s decision not to retire last year, as expected, blocked Williams’s path to Boston.
At-large Councilors Thomas Ashe, Timothy Rooke and Kateri Walsh are unlikely to be affected. The Council’s black at-large members may, but Councilor Justin Hurst has a better relationship with Swan. Moreover, since rattling Williams in the 2013 election, Hurst may have more political capital as the new, young African-American face to watch.
A political activist and former organizer for Senator Ed Markey and Treasurer Deb Goldberg and gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick, Lederman has taken a less traditional tack to 36 Court Street. With no Council seat open, Lederman has run a more insurgent campaign. Utilizing his ties and contacts in the city and emphasizing hyperlocal issues, he has tried to establish beachheads across the city and build a coalition that can overcome the city’s typical political entrenchment.
In this case, Swan’s backing, like that of Lederman’s mentor, Ward 4 Councilor E. Henry Twiggs, fortifies the council aspirant’s ties to the black community and urban neighborhoods in the heart of Springfield.
“I am humbled and grateful that the representative is willing to lend his name to support me” Lederman said in an interview.