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City councilor asks that Boston not have a special election for mayor should Walsh go to Washington soon, because we already have the regular elections coming this fall

City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), hopes to start the ball rolling on getting the state Legislature to let Boston not have to hold three and possibly four mayor elections this year should Marty Walsh become labor secretary before March 5 - Covid-19 just makes that too damn risky to voters, not to mention expensive.

The city charter currently would require a special election to fill Walsh's term until after the next regularly scheduled election - which would be this fall. If more than two candidates file to run in the special election, then the city would have to hold a preliminary election as well. Any changes to the charter, such as eliminating its mayoral special-election calendar, require action by the legislature and the governor.

Boston would not be mayorless during the interregnum - under the charter, Council President Kim Janey becomes acting mayor upon Walsh's resignation.

In a statement, Arroyo said that it just doesn't make sense to elect somebody who would only serve until January, when whoever wins the November final would take office.

Holding an unnecessary and redundant special election for the position of Mayor of Boston would endanger the health of Boston residents during a deadly pandemic, exacerbate an already uncertain financial future for the City, and contribute to existing inequities often seen in special elections that contribute to the disenfranchisement of immigrant, low-income, disabled, Black, and Latinx communities.

Arroyo will ask for council action at its regularly scheduled meeting, which begins at noon on Wednesday.

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Do we already know that three or more candidates will run? (If there are only two candidates, there will be no preliminary elections.)

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Wu and Campbell are already in the race and it would not surprise me if more were to jump in, including perennial candidate Althea Garrison.

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Doug Bennett is also phishing social media to see if people want him to run, and of course there are people encouraging him (tongue in cheek). Watch your front lawn for home made signs from his garage that are placed there without your permission. Shiva could also turn up if he got the signatures, but I think that was in my junk mail box. (Some will get that).

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Has that clown gone back to Nantucket yet?

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Plywood is hard to come by these days.

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Arroyo is trying to give Janey the long ball upper hand. A couple of minority canidates fighting for votes in certain areas of the city and someone like Nick or Annissa will win Southie Neponset West Roxbury Adams Corner Readville could lock up the majority percentage to win in a general . Annisa is a city hockey mom. BPS teacher Dorchester Girl Also her father is a immigrant . Has a lot of personal connections to people being a Latin Grad same with Collins. Guess who else kids play hockey in the city Boston Cops and Firemen who vote and are not happy how they have been kicked around for a terrible incident that happened halfway across the Country. Might come back to haunt Wu Janey Campbell in the election. You still have to go to those neighborhoods that have been labeled racist (don’t kick me around just being realistic from a political operative perspective) by some of these canidates looking to become Mayor and ask for the votes. Going to be tough when door knocking around there

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Assuming Councillor Janey runs, that would make four

https://wbznewsradio.iheart.com/content/bpd-commissioner-gross-preparing...

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I have always thought it was silly to whittle the field down from 3 or 4 to just two for the final election. What is the point of that? Do people get confused by more than two names on the ballot?

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To make it more likely that the final winner really represents a majority preference, rather than a 34% or 26% plurality. See also: the recent 4th Congressional District primary, where the winner received just 22.4% of the vote.

Eliminating the special spring election is a good idea; eliminating the preliminary is not.

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Would Kim Janey run for Mayor? She did not declare as 2 others seeking the position have done.

Would Kim Janey if running for Mayor also run for City Council?

Who would step in as City Council President and who would represent her district?

Changing laws should also take into consideration the impact on future situations. Would Boston be better served by having a 2nd in command as Mayor Flynn did which allowed Menino to step into the role of Mayor until the election? We are losing a Mayor and City Councillor how are we addressing the loss of the Council President and representation for the district?

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Menino became Mayor because he was the City Council president when Flynn stepped down to go to the Vatican. Kim Janey is in the same position now.

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There are many qualified candidates who are people of color. Councilors Wu and Campbell had already decided to run for Mayor. A special election would provide an opportunity to Boston residents to select the best candidate, not just slip someone into the position. The option for a special election is also part of the city charter. Let’s not take away the best option due to maneuvers from some on the City Council.

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All this people want to do what best fit there agenda.. What about the city and the people and the future. Chain of command is in place for a reason. Structure! Just what this city needs. I'm Born Raised have worked in city in private and City 35+.. I went to BPS schools and so have my kids. Arroyo doesn't even belong in office neither should his Family members. So hopefully he will be out next. Election along with Rollins. Doesn't matter race or creed. We need what Best for Boston. AND YES I STILL LIVE HERE.. UNLIKE Arroyo using his mother address and Rollins who had to move in after election what a joke they are

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MA voted to accept ranked choi...ohh that’s right, we dropped the ball on that.

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Can Boston immediately switch to ranked choice for its local elections, by submitting a home rule petition? That would be a lot more democratic than entirely ditching the preliminary.

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For City Council it is always who gets the most votes but if a seated city councilor has to leave their position, the person with the next-highest number of votes will automatically be put into the vacant seat. That is how Althea Garrison ascended to the City Council when Pressley left for Congress.

As to ranked choice and sour grapes, the people spoke. Get over it for now and try again later. Of course those that refuse to accept that ranked choice was defeated can always mount an assault on the State House. Both sides of the political divide need to just sit back and chill and if you REALLY accept the voice of the people, just let go.

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Contrived majority

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Ranked choice doesn’t create a “majority selected” scenario. It just eventually forces one, potentially with the overall 3rd choice (or lower). It’s a contrived majority, meaning that it was forced to happen.

I agree with the council that we should just hold 1 election this year.

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One man's "contrived majority" is another man's "consensus".

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Changing the rules after it’s known that Walsh will be resigning seems rather undemocratic.

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Cost of election = non trivial

um ... PANDEMIC still raging ..

If they have to hold a special election, it should be mail in/drop box ONLY.

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You can run multiple elections during a pandemic. Even unexpected ones. It has been done, see above.

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It does seem like trying to weasel their way out.
If they can't see the ethical problem with trying to change the law after a situation has developed...
...they might want to consider the practical/karmic side of things. Making a change like this to suit anticipated short-term need is exactly the type of thing that could come back to bite them on the ass. Does none of them remember all the strategic tinkering with state law to grease the skids on designating a replacement to fill a vacant US Senate seat that blew up in their faces when they discovered that omg the other party could use it too (!!!) and appoint a guy with a barn coat & pickup truck?

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It's not like Walsh hasn't been on Biden's list for the entire month of December. Arroyo had plenty of time to request such a change when Walsh's departure was a mere hypothetical. The fact that he waited so long is too much of a coincidence to overlook.

As an added bonus, Arroyo has strong (family) ties to some power players in Boston politics...

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Paul Kirk was appointed to fill the seat until the special election that Scott Brown won because, despite the fact that a labradoodle with a (D) after its name could have won Ted Kennedy's seat, Martha Coakly somehow found a way to run a campaign so poorly that it will be studied in political science classes for generations.

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Thank you. I knew I had some of the timeline fuzzy, but I had clean forgotten the existence of US Senator Paul Kirk.

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The labradoodle would have gladly greeted voters outside Fenway Park, in the cold.

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Bravo

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I think that Arroyo is making the right call on this one; there should be no special elections when there is less than a year remaining in the official's term.

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If this is such a brilliant idea, why isn't it already the law?

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How about the desires of the voters of Boston?

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Scared of democracy (high voter turnout)!

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The more election cycles you have the more likely you are to only get extremists because people can’t keep it won’t keep goin. To the polls. It’s overkill.

The voter turnout by the end would be like 80k people..

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It's one of the things the government is supposed to do. Money for elections should come before most other things.

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I strongly believe Kim Janey will handle keeping Boston's streets walkable and safer in the neighborhoods. Go Kim you have my support!

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Whatever would give you that impression??

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...in the event of a vacancy, we should change the bylaws to require that the president be an at-large councillor. Nobody outside of District 7 ever had a chance to cast a vote for President Janey, and probably very few have even heard of her.

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Is the Council President not elected by the elected members of the Council? You vote for your direct representative, in part, to represent you in governance matters. In many governing bodies, that includes voting on your behalf for the leadership of that body.

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But if there's an easy way to make it even more democratic, what would be the downside?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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Boston has 400,000 registered voters, leas than 4000 voted for Kim. Proves your point! (Besides... Kim who??)

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He represented District 5 (Hyde Park/Roslindale) when he became acting mayor. Turnout, and attention, are low for municipal elections, except when the mayor's seat is open.

A better question: what is Arroyo up to? He hails from a political family, he and his dad are on the public payroll.

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I don't think those offices existed when Menino was elevated.

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Prior to the 1983 municipal elections, the council was nine members elected at large. That year Menino was elected district councilor, one of the nine new district representatives. Four councilors are elected at-large.

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The council has been the way it is now since 1981. Before that, it was all at large (since 1951.)

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Thank you for the education :-)

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Apologies.

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or will she be simultaneously council president and acting mayor? I don't remember anymore how this worked with Menino.

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The President of the City Council, when she becomes Acting Mayor, may not be required to resign her city council seat if her role as Acting Mayor results ex officio from her position as President of the City Council (section 17H of Chapter 376 of the Acts of 1951, https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/115031/1951acts03...).

However, If there is a vacancy in a district city council seat before March 5th (180 days before the regular municipal election), then the law requires special elections, both preliminary and general, in that district. (Section 1 of Chapter 233 of the Acts of 1993, https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/26248/1993acts023...).

Thanks, Adam, for posting the link to Arroyo’s proposed bill that exposes this failure in logic. Why argue that we shouldn’t have special municipal elections when, in fact, they would be required at the district level anyway to fill the city council seat, unless Janey holds both seats?

The President of the City Council, when named Acting Mayor to fill a vacancy in the mayor’s seat, can only act on matters “not admitting of delay” and “shall have no power to make permanent appointments” (section 11B of Chapter 376 of the Acts of 1951). Under Arroyo’s plan, the Acting Mayor would serve for almost a year, if Walsh heads to DC soon after the inauguration. A year is too long to put the needs of the city on hold, attending to only urgent matters. We need a special election to elect a new Mayor.

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And isn't filled by the runner up. That would mean Roy Owens joins the council.

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At-large and district seats are handled differently. With the at-large seats, if one councilor leaves, the fifth-place finisher becomes councilor. Hello Councilor Garrison! But with district councilors, the city charter requires a special election be held to replace a councilor who leaves. Hello Councilor O'Malley, who won a special election to replace John Tobin when he got a job at Northeastern.

So if Owens wants to get on the council, he's going to have to end his decades-long losing streak.

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It seems as though Janey could be both Acting Mayor and District City Councilor at the same time, since she would hold the Acting Mayor seat ex officio.

Arroyo’s argument that we could avoid preliminary and general special elections only holds if Janey holds both jobs. If a district city council seat becomes vacant more than 180 days before a regular municipal election, then both preliminary and general special elections are required for that seat.

The big problem is that the Acting Mayor can act only on matters “not admitting of delay" and cannot make permanent appointments. If Arroyo’s proposal is adopted, we would have an Acting Mayor until January 2022. Putting all non-urgent matters off for almost a year is wrong.

The laws defining the conditions for special elections to fill a vacancy in the mayor’s office have been essentially unchanged since 1951. [Acts of 1948, c. 42, s. 13 as amended by Acts of 1951, c. 376, s. 1.13 as further amended by Acts of 1996, c. 328, s. 1] (https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/bitstream/handle/2452/115031/1951acts03...)

Changing the law for filling a vacancy now, when a vacancy is imminent, is ridiculous.

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[special elections] place disproportionate burdens on traditionally disenfranchised communities, such as immigrant, low-income, disabled, Black, and Latinx communities

[...] and contribute to existing inequities often seen in elections

This is an obscene example of slapping the 'systemic racism' on everything. Giving people the opportunity to vote actually 'disenfranchises' people who don't choose to vote.

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So what's in it for Arroyo? What's he stand to gain?

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