By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) — Twelve days before Boston’s Preliminary Election, and a number of the mayoral candidates were pressing the flesh at a Senior’s Picnic in Roxbury.

Despite the blistering heat, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley sounded encouraged.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports

“I’m having a lot of success these last few weeks as people really start to focus,” he said.

Conley and his opponents have been attending picnics, meet and greets, rallies, house parties, coffee hours and forums.

All have been working to get their message heard. All say, unequivocally, that they have the qualifications needed to succeed Tom Menino as the 54th Mayor of Boston.

“I’m the only public executive level manager,” declared Conley.

Related: Meet The Mayoral Candidates

“I’m the only person up here who was ever the City Council President,” stated Mike Ross.

“I’m the only candidate to put a badge on and walk a beat in Boston,” said Charles Clemons.

“You know that I am the only candidate who has run a city agency, ” said Charlotte Golar Richie.

Rob Consalvo stated, “I am one of the only candidates that has actually chaired the Ways and Means Committee.”

Boston College Professor of History, James O’Toole, can’t emphasize enough the shift this city is about to undergo.

“This election really is notable, if only because Mayor Menino has been mayor for so long, and so, just the transition that comes with that makes this noteworthy,” he said.”He’s the longest serving mayor in the history of the city. I think the next closest person to him would have been Kevin White in the 1960’s and 1970’s.”

Bob Crane, former Massachusetts State Treasurer and a long time friend of the late Kevin White, said this preliminary harkens back to White’s first bid for mayor.

“There were 10 candidates at that time,” he said. “Every one of these 12 candidates has a following of some magnitude, and if they get all of their voters out, you’re going to have 150,000, 165,000, in my opinion. It’s going to be a very interesting election and will be very similar to the one Kevin White ran 25, 30 years ago, when he and Louise Day Hicks were the finalists in their election.” Crane added, “This fight today is, anyone can win it. It’s an election that is going to be won by a very few votes.”

Professor O’Toole says interest in this election extends beyond city limits.

“The feeling that people outside of Boston have for the city, is, I think, itself a sign of the life of the place. Some of that, I think, is personal in a way. A lot of people who live in other parts of the country went to school in Boston or they know someone who did.”

This aptly describes candidate Bill Walczak’s Boston history.

Walczak is 58, a vice president with Shawmut Design and Construction who lives in Dorchester. He grew up in New Jersey, but fell in love with Boston in 1975.

“Jersey has a certain spirit, if you know what I mean,” laughed Walczak. He continued, “But Boston’s spirit just got under my skin immediately, and I said, God I love this place. This place has such character, such interesting people. I want to come to school here and I want to live here.”

Coming up in part 2 of Mary Blake’s series on the mayoral candidates; how Boston neighborhoods impact the election.

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