Here's the deal. We all know Mayor Thomas Menino is the elected mayor of Boston. But who is the unofficial mayor of West Roxbury?
I've been covering West Roxbury for years and have seen the nominees on election days holding signs, or running neighborhood meetings, often speaking at neighborhood events, organizing neighborhood sport events, or just grabbing some grub and drink at the Corrib, West Roxbury Pub or The Real Deal.
The nominees are listed in alphabetical order (on the poll). No elected official such as state Rep. Ed Coppinger (and the Coppinger Clan votes) were allowed to be nominated.
Also no former elected officials are in the mix for instance, former West Roxbury District Councilor John Tobin.
I selected the nominees after some unscientific polling of folks in the know.
One rule: Please do not write anything negative about any of the candidates in the comments section, or I'll pull the comment. Feel free to tell stories of the candidates, how they've helped you, how long you've known them, seen them around the neighborhood, and so on.
To the nominees...
Richie Gormley - Gormley is the heavy favorite in the contest. Let's be real about it. The man is involved in so much of the life and death of West Roxbury. Literally, because he owns Gormley Funeral Home. But Gormley is involved in a lot more of the life of West Roxbury. He is the commander of West Roxbury V.F.W. Post 2902, and is the Sergant-of-Arms for the Irish Social Club.
You'll see Gormley at every veterans' event, and he is a very charitable man, even putting up his own Ireland home for a week as the grand prize for Save the Irish Social Club fundraiser. Several other nominees made sure Gormley was included, adding his nickname - Lord High Mayor (or varieties). I also found oodles of Gormley photos in the West Roxbury Patch database.
Tom "TD" Dougherty - Many know him simply as TD for his initials. He's a lovable Yogi Bear kind-of-guy with a big heart (you'll see that as a common thread through all the nominees). He was formerly the president of the West Roxbury Main Streets board. TD is currently very involved with keeping West Roxbury safe via his work on the West Roxbury Police Advisory Board. You can also see him at youth sports games on a regular basis with his kids. TD pointed out how several of the nominees are close friends, too. He's only a 21-year resident of West Roxbury, meaning his childhood friends are not West Roxbury-based i.e. the childhood friend vote.
Chucky Bruen - The dark horse of the contest. Chucky flies under the radar on the meetings, but he knows everyone and everyone knows him. He has a lot of family, and they have family. I always enjoy seeing Chucky on Election Days, he's a nice guy, you can understand why he's so popular. Chucky's brother's wife is married to Coppinger's wife's sister, too - so does the Coppinger Clan vote come into play here?
Mike O'Brien - O'Brien is a big man with a big smile and you don't want to mess with him - he's a Suffolk County corrections officer. He and his family live in the house that he grew up in. The Shamrock Shootout's homebase operations is his house with a DJ spinning, kids running back-and-forth, and the dog is very well-trained. I missed the first Shootout, called Mike up to cover it in retrospect, and he invited me into his home. He gave me an official Shamrock Shootout wintercap, introduced me to his family and the well-trained dog. He's a good man.
Stephen Smith - Smith has been on the West Roxbury Neighborhood Council since 1993, and seems to always know what's happening in the neighborhood. He's also a part of the Spring Valley/Charles River Neighborhood Association (in several incarnations), as well as being very politically active with the Ward 20 Democratic Committee. I've always appreciated Smith's probing questions at WRNC meetings, and his penchant for pushing meetings to end before Red Sox playoff games.
Olivia Waishek - You don't mess with Olivia Waishek. She leads as the president of the West Roxbury Civic and Improvement Association with an iron fist; I've told her I wish I could bring her to family and social events I want to end early. Waishek keeps meetings focused on the discussion at hand (neighborhood assocations in Newton and Wellesley should hire her).
Waishek truly is a sweetheart who cares deeply about the Washington Street area of West Roxbury. Her expertise of navigating the civic process in Boston, benefits her neighborhood greatly, as contractors continually look to put homes on lots too small to build on. Residents who have never heard of Olivia Waishek can thank her for not having a neighbor's window facing right into their bathroom. In 2010, she was named to the Zoning Commission for the Boston City Council's Committee on Economic Development and Planning. She also always asks me how married life is going.
Alice Hennessey - Alice Hennessey is Milliennium Park. Even Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will tell you that - and he invented the wheel! Seriously, Hennessey is regarded as the person responsible for the creation of Milliennium Park from a dump to a recreational wonderland with playing fields, playgrounds, trails, a canoe launch and years of Parkway smiles.
Tony Saroufim - Saroufim is also a member of the West Roxbury Neighborhood Council, and is quite excited when new restaurants come in. Saroufim has been involved with Parkway Youth Soccer since 1988 when his eldest son, Joe, was 5-years-old. Every year he recruits team coaches and sponsors, which at one point included 78 teams (and they say soccer isn't popular in America). He's also been involved with the West Roxbury YMCA, the Roche Family Community Center, and WRMS' board.
Mary Mulvey Jacobson - Mary Mulvey Jacobson knows what's going on in West Roxbury and is an email queen informing residents of the comings and goings in the neighborhood. She leads the West Roxbury Business and Professional Association with its 7:45 a.m. meetings (really, Mary? 7:45 a.m.!). Jacobson also organizes the annual Families in Need donations program that provides groceries to Parkway families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. She is also involved with Irish Social Club, veterans events and if you need help, she'll help you.
So who do you think is the unofficial mayor of West Roxbury? Take the poll, share your comments, offer up other options, and keep it fun!