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  • Elliot Wagner-Smith

Boston City Councilor Election Nov 7

Courtesy of Boston Globe

On November 7, Boston will hold municipal elections for 13 city council members, four of which are At-Large council members. An At-Large council member represents the entire city, whereas District representatives represent only the interests of their district. The job of city councilors is to approve the budget for the city of Boston, in addition to passing or amending laws for the city. Most Boston University students reside in District 8, which stretches from Harry Agganis way to the West End along the Charles river. [To find out what district you live in, you can check this interactive map that will show you both your district and current representative.] Local elections are known for their low turnout, and incumbents often safely keep their seats. However, city councilors set the budget for the city, meaning they decide how much money is allocated to public services, and this is often more impactful to the day to day life than national politics.

How to vote

You can register to vote in Massachusetts if you are a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old. To vote on November 7, you must register by October 28 at 5pm, and you must request your mail-in ballot, if you plan to vote by mail, by October 31 at 5pm. Registration is available online, by mail, or in person. Polls are open from 7am to 8pm, but cities are allowed to open their polls as early as 5:45 am, and some Boston precinct locations may do so. Most of the time you wont need to show ID in order to vote, but you might need to if you are voting on a provisional ballot or if it's your first time voting in Massachusetts. For this ID you can use a driver's license, including an out-of-state license, a state-issued ID card, or a piece of mail. For example, you could bring a letter sent by your parents to your dorm. There is always early voting and voting by mail in Massachusetts, which is protected by state law. If you have questions about voting in the Boston City Council election you can check the Vote 411 Massachusetts page.

At-Large Candidates

There are eight candidates on the ballot for City Councilor At-Large, and voters can choose up to four candidates. Three of the current City Councilors At-Large are running for re-election: Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, and Erin Murphy. This is marked on the ballot with the phrase “Present City Councilor.” A look at every candidate for all city council seats can be found here.

Ruthzee Louijeune is a lawyer and activist from Boston who has served on the city council since 2022. In an interview with Progressive Mass, Councilor Louijeune noted that her top three priorities as a member of the city council were housing, racial justice, and immigration.

Julia Meija is an immigrant and two term city council member who lists her key issues as education, accessibility, and transparency into government. She is endorsed by the Boston teachers union and Planned Parenthood. The last incumbent, Erin Murphy, has been a city council member since December 2021 and her key issues include veteran advocacy, education, and the economy. She is endorsed by several trade and labor unions, as well as the Boston EMS union.

Bridgit Nee-Walsh is a native Bostonian and member of the Ironworkers union. She lists her key issues as education, affordable housing, and climate change. She is endorsed by over 20 trade unions, including the Police union and Fire union. Shawn Nelson is a former Marine and current Nursing Assistant running on a platform of addressing homelessness, traffic, and parental rights in education.

Henry Santana is the former director of Mayor Wu’s Office of Civic Organizing. He is campaigning for a more open city government, more civic engagement, and housing. He is endorsed by the Boston Teachers Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club. Catherine Vitale is a mother who has been directly affected by homelessness and addiction. She is focusing her campaign on parental rights, overdevelopment, and addiction and recovery. Vitale was arrested in April 2022 for assault and battery against a police officer and disrupting the peace, but the charges were eventually dropped. Clifton Braithwaite is running for city council on a position of senior care, public services, and education. He has spent the majority of his career working with local Boston businesses.

District Candidates

District 3 is currently represented by Councilor Frank Baker who announced he would not be seeking re-election. This led to a seven-way race in the primary, of which the two candidates advancing to the November 7 election are Boston Planning and Development Agency official John Fitzgerald and Boston Public Schools teacher Joel Richards. Fitzgerald and Richards received 43% and 19% of the primary vote respectively. Fitzgerald lists his key issues as housing, education and public safety. Joel Richards is a current Boston Public Schools teacher and pastor, and lists his key issues as education, affordable housing, and transportation.

Incumbent Councilor Richard Arroyo was ousted from the District 5 councilor election in an embattled primary amid two scandals: the resurfacing of decades-old sexual assault allegations and controversy surrounding violation of conflict of interest laws by representing his brother in a lawsuit. This left former city council staffer Enrique Pepén and police officer Jose Ruiz as the victors advancing to the Nov. 7 election. Pepén won 40% of the primary vote and has been endorsed by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, the Boston Globe and the Boston Teachers Union. His key issues are affordable housing, education, and the economy. Pepén also responded to an interview from Progressive Mass. Pepén issued a public apology in July after breaking state campaign law by soliciting more than $11,000 in contributions from social media posts. Jose Ruiz, who garnered 31% of the primary vote, lists his key issues as housing, public safety, and education. He is endorsed by former Mayor Marty Walsh, the Boston Police Union, and the Firefighters Union.

District 6 Councilor Kendra Lara also lost her primary election, gathering only 20% of the vote. This loss came after controversy after Lara allegedly drove with a revoked license in an unregistered, uninsured car belonging to someone else, which she crashed into a house in Jamaica Plain. Labor Attorney Ben Weber, who won 42% of the primary vote, and real estate IT Director William King, who won 37% of the vote, advanced to the November election. Weber’s key issues are constituent services, education, and housing affordability. He is endorsed by the teachers union, Mayor Wu, and the majority of Boston’s labor unions. Weber was also interviewed by Progressive Mass. King lists his key issues as housing, education, and transportation. He is endorsed by the Boston firefighters union.

District 7’s current city councilor, Tania Fernandes Anderson, won 57% of the vote in the primary election and has advanced to the November 7 election. She is being challenged by Althea Garrison, a former at-large city councilor and former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Councilor Fernandes Anderson lists her key issues as COVID-19 recovery, mental health, and racial justice. It is important to note that Anderson previously admitted to breaking the Massachusetts conflict of interest law and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine. This was due to her hiring her son and her sister for salaried positions in her city council staff immediately after her appointment to the city council. Anderson has also been criticized for her recent comments regarding Hamas and her position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Garrison lists her key issues as senior care, housing, and caring for the city’s veterans. Garrison describes herself as a black conservative and says she voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, making her the only Republican candidate in the November 7 election.

District 8, the district that includes Boston University, Berkeley College of Music, parts of Northeastern University, and many other colleges, is currently represented by Sharon Durkan. Councilor Durkan is running to maintain her seat. Durkan has worked closely with Mayor Wu and many of her colleagues in the city council who have openly endorsed her for re-election. She lists her key issues as housing, climate change, and mental health, and she is endorsed by the Sierra Club and the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Former prosecutor Montez Haywood is challenging Durkan in the general election. He is endorsed by Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, and as a former prosecutor, his key issue is safety and policing. He is campaigning to expand the Boston Police Department, hire more officers, and build community relationships between neighborhoods and police. An interview Haywood gave to the Massachusetts ACLU regarding public safety can be found here. He also advocates for “purchasing a cruise ship” to create a floating hospital that would treat people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.

District 9, which includes much of Allston-Brighton, is currently represented by Councilor Liz Breadon. Councilor Breadon is the first ever LGBTQ+ woman to be elected to the city council. Breadon, along with her neighbors, successfully fought to keep the Faneuil branch of the Boston Public Library open in 2014. She is endorsed by the Boston Teachers Union, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood Massachusetts. Breadon is being challenged by Jacob deBlecourt, a former city council staffer, who is focusing his campaign heavily on housing. DeBlecourt is campaigning to strengthen tenants rights, create more affordable housing, and draft an Unhoused Bill of Rights. He is endorsed by the organization Run for Something and by Chelsea Page Moss, the 2023 Miss Trans Massachusetts.


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