Sam Yoon announces candidacy for Mayor of Boston

Yoon launches a pioneering bid for mayor

Sam Yoon, who vaulted onto Boston's political scene when he was elected the city's first Asian-American city councilor just four years ago, will look to break down another barrier this fall, seeking the seat of Mayor Thomas M. Menino in an upstart bid that has drawn interest from coast to coast.

Yoon, who has been publicly weighing a mayoral run since last fall, said yesterday he is running, joining At-Large Councilor Michael F. Flaherty Jr. and South End business owner Kevin McCrea in a now-crowded field to be the city's chief executive.

"This weekend, my wife, Tina, and I spent some time talking about what a mayoral race would mean for our family," said Yoon, 39. "We reached a decision. We prayed about it, and I am going to be entering the race for mayor."

Yoon is not only the first Asian-American to seek the job, according to longtime political observers, but he is an unconventional candidate for other reasons as well. He does not have deep Boston roots, having moved to Dorchester from Arlington two years before he ran for City Council in 2005. Born in Seoul, Yoon grew up in Pennsylvania. He became a naturalized US citizen when he was 10.

Yoon holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and worked in various community organizations in Boston before running for City Council.

Word that Yoon was considering a run for mayor first hit Boston in September while he was touting his potential as a rising Asian-American politician on a West Coast fund-raising trip. And his 2008 campaign finance reports show that 58 percent of his campaign contributions came from donors outside Massachusetts, including a large network of Asian-American supporters in California and elsewhere.

In an interview with the Globe yesterday, Yoon declined to offer specifics about his campaign plans, saying he would save that for a formal announcement to come in the next few weeks.

"The campaign will be about the city's future, not about its past, and that's the rubric that I'm going to be working with."

Yoon said he called each of his potential opponents yesterday to inform them of his plans.

Flaherty, an at-large councilor from South Boston who announced his mayoral run two weeks ago, said yesterday he welcomed Yoon's candidacy.

"Boston residents deserve a real campaign where ideas to make Boston a better city are thoughtfully debated," Flaherty said in an interview. "I have always subscribed to the theory that competition is good."

McCrea, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2005, agreed that having more candidates in the race was good for the city.