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Boston City Council 2019

Now that the hotly contested 2018 Democratic primary is behind us, there is little politics left to practice in Boston this year. State Senators Sal DiDomenico, Mike Rush, Nick Collins, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Joe Boncore & William Brownsberger face no Republican opposition in November. State Representatives Adrian Madaro, Dan Ryan, Aaron Michlewitz, Russell Holmes, Chynah Tyler, Jay Livingstone, Ed Coppinger, Liz Malia, Dan Cullinane, Dan Hunt, Angelo Scaccia, Kevin Honan, and Michael Moran likewise will appear on the general election ballot unopposed.

Three Democratic nominees for State Rep – David Biele, Jon Santiago, and Nika Elugardo – have likely secured their seats, lacking election day opponents. Liz Miranda, the Democratic nominee for State Representative in the Fifth Suffolk District (a seat that became “open” when Evandro Carvalho chose to run for District Attorney), faces an “Independent Progressive” candidate: none other than Althea Garrison, former state representative; 5th place finisher in the 2017 race for Boston City Council, At-Large; and presumptive future City Councillor, now that Ayanna Pressley is expected to step down in order to assume her place in the 116th U.S. Congress. Boston’s other Representative in Washington, Steve Lynch of South Boston, will be re-elected this November to his 8th full 2-year term.

Clerks of Court Maura Hennigan, Michael Donovan and Maura Doyle have all secured re-election. Register of Deeds Steve Murphy, having fended off a challenge from progressive Democrat Katie Forde, will face an “unenrolled” candidate (not affiliated with any party) named Gabriela Mendoza on Tuesday, November 6. Rachael Rollins, the Democratic nominee for Suffolk County District Attorney, faces Michael Maloney, recently of South Boston, an “Independent Reformer” who has claimed a Hyde Square billboard looking down upon the Rollins campaign headquarters in Jamaica Plain. Rollins’s primary election smash leaves little doubt in my mind that she will dispatch a political newcomer with little name recognition and without much established support. Governor’s Councillor Christopher Iannella is set to remain one of the longest continuously-serving elected officials residing in Boston.

While it is true that there is a race for Governor taking place this year, few Democrats seem to believe that Jay Gonzalez stands a chance of beating Charlie Baker. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has already begun to pivot her attention to the 2020 race for President, recently addressing the lingering controversy behind her muddled claim to indigenous ancestry.

In politics, as in other team sports, there’s always next year: 2019 appears set to be an interesting one here in Boston. Without a mayor’s race taking place, the City Council will be the only game in town. With Althea Garrison, a newcomer to the Council, considered vulnerable, there is likely to be interest in the position of At-Large Councillor. With the Boston Globe having already kicked off official speculation, publishing an editorial mentioning the names of several prospective candidates, we will make an attempt to predict the top 8 finishers in a 2019 race for Boston City Council, At-Large.

With Michelle Wu, Annissa E George, and Michael F Flaherty all expected to run for re-election, and with Althea Garrison somewhat of a wildcard contestant, there is room on the ballot card for an additional 4 or 5 candidates next November.

First, the possibilities greatly mentioned by the Boston Globe:

  • Monica Cannon, activist and former candidate for State Representative from Roxbury
  • Katie Forde, former candidate for Register of Deeds from Roslindale
  • Julia Mejia, charter school advocate and CPLAN founder
  • Deequo Jibril, former District 7 City Council candidate from Roxbury
  • John Borders, manager for community engagement with the Boston Celtics
  • Natalia Uturbey, director of the Imagine Boston 2030 initiative

Now, a few recent City Council candidates, from the years 2017 and 2013:

  • Domingos DaRosa, 6th place finisher in 2017
  • William King, 7th place finisher in 2017
  • Jeff Ross, Attorney, 6th place finisher in 2013
  • Marty Keogh, Attorney, 7th place finisher in 2013
  •  Jack Kelly, Author, 8th place finisher in 2013

Other names I have heard mentioned include the following:

  • Dave Halbert of East Boston, activist and employee of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department
  • Alejandra St Guillen, Director of the Office of New Bostonians
  • Jose Lopez, Attorney, former District 7 City Council candidate
  • Mimi Turchinetz, Attorney, former District 5 City Council candidate
  • Matt O’Malley, Boston City Councillor for District 6 (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, parts of Roxbury and Roslindale)

These 16 names represent only a few of the many possible entrants into the ring of next year’s political circus, and at least four of those mentioned I can confirm to be exploring a run. Mejia filed paperwork with the OCPF on September 19. Ross donated $75,000 to his campaign committee earlier this year. Jack Kelly recently published a book, and seems to have little interest in another run for office (then again, book tours have been used by candidates to “test the waters”). Halbert was seen, along with Ross and Turchinetz, at the recent Ward 20 Democratic Committee fall breakfast. This year’s breakfast, held at the Corrib in West Roxbury, honored outgoing District Attorney Dan Conley, who once represented District 5 on the Boston City Council, and who is a resident of Ward 20.

The most interesting possibility might be a run by District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley for an at-large seat on the Council. There are several reasons why such a run is possible, though unlikely. Firstly, it has been done before: District 6 City Councillor Maura Hennigan, now Suffolk County Clerk of Court, ran successfully for an At-Large City Council seat in 2001. Secondly, since District 6 includes Wards 20 and 19, arguably the two most powerful voting blocs in the City of Boston, O’Malley would likely win an At-Large race, if he ran. If, like many City Councillors, O’Malley entertains hopes of eventually running for Mayor, campaigning in and representing the entire City of Boston would lead naturally to the sorts of partnerships necessary for a successful mayoral campaign.

Without having spoken to most of the potential candidates listed above, I predict that the 2019 City Council general election will include the four incumbents (Michelle Wu, Michael F Flaherty, Annissa E George & Althea Garrison), as well as Ross, Mejia, and two others whose names have not yet been mentioned. We are likely to see at least one new candidate running as a representative of the Our Revolution / Bernie bloc, and it is also possible that a former Councillor (Tito Jackson, perhaps; or John Connolly) might be tempted to make a bid to return to the Council. In a few short weeks, we’ll find out!