Two-term Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon — the only Asian on the council of 13 elected members — announced his bid to run for mayor Sunday.
His announcement ends years of speculation that he would eventually run for the city’s top job. In an interview with Sampan newspaper in October of 2005, shortly after he won his first preliminary election for city councilor, the Korean-born Yoon demurred on answering if he’d like to run for mayor, replying “I’m going to take things one step at a time.”
More recently, the Boston Globe — which yesterday announced Yoon’s entry into the mayoral race — ran a story just five days ago, about his out-of-state fundraising as a “potential” candidate for mayor.
Yoon’s candidacy comes during a time when the racial composition of the city — and consequently the Boston electorate — has been changing. Earlier in the decade, Boston became a “majority-minority” city, with minorities making up more than half of the city’s population of roughly 589,000, according to the 2000 Census.
At the same time, Felix Arroyo, a native of Puerto Rico, became Boston’s first Latino city councilor, joining African American incumbents Charles Yancey and Chuck Turner on the council before Yoon’s first election in 2005.
In a city with mostly white politicians in elected office — such as mayors Kevin White, from 1968 to 1984, and Ray Flynn, from 1984 to 1993 — Yoon’s 2005 electoral victory came as an upset to some of his unsuccessful opponents. Two of them, Patricia White and Ed Flynn, were children of the former mayors.
But whether Yoon will keep his winning streak remains to be seen. Mayor Thomas Menino is serving his fourth term in the city’s top job. Boston city Councilor Michael Flaherty has thrown his hat into the mayoral ring, too, as well as private citizen Kevin McCrea.
In coverage by the Globe and the Boston Herald, Yoon did not elaborate on what his campaign platform will or may be, commenting only that it will focus heavily on the “city’s future and not on its past.” His website, samyoon.com, only linked to newspaper coverage of his announcement, under the headline: “Elect Sam Yoon Mayor of Boston. I’m in!”
A graduate of Harvard University with a master’s degree in public policy, Yoon is no stranger to housing, real estate development or financial management. Before his first election to the City Council, he was in charge of the housing department for the Asian Community Development Corporation in Chinatown, Boston.
According to his biography on boston.gov, he chairs the City Council’s Post Audit & Oversight Committee and vice-chairs the Youth Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the following committees: Arts, Film, Humanities & Tourism; Economic Development & Planning; Housing; Human Rights & Services; Presidential Committee on Council Centennial; Rules & Administration; Ways & Means; Whole.
In addition, Yoon is a co-founder of The New Majority, a coalition of African Americans, Latinos and Asians who seek to advance a common agenda for communities of color in Boston. He is a board member of Viet-Aid, a nonprofit that serves the city’s Vietnamese community; a member of the Fields Corner Main Street Association, also in Boston; and he is an elder at the Bethany Presbyterian Church.
New England has two Asians mayors, whose parents are all immigrants from China: Lisa Wong of Fitchburg, Mass., and Allan Fung of Cranston, RI.