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City Council votes to bypass special Mayoral election


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City Council

Mayor Martin J. Walsh was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the Labor Secretary, and if confirmed, Mayor Walsh would leave his position before the end of his term.

The Boston City Charter states that in the event that the Mayor does not complete his or her term, the President of the City Council shall serve as the acting Mayor until an election is held to elect a new Mayor.

As it is currently written, if the Mayor resigns before March 5, 2021, the Boston City Charter would require a special preliminary election and election be held in addition to the already regularly scheduled municipal elections in September and November.

This week, the Council voted 12-0 (one abstaining) to pass a Home Rule Petition to bypass a special election.

Councilor Arroyo, who sponsored the petition and who is the Chair of the Committee on Public Health, believes that organizing and executing multiple elections in a single year would place a large financial burden on the City of Boston, especially during a public health emergency like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I filed this Home Rule Petition because we are living under extraordinary circumstances. Boston is under a state of emergency and we are in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 1,000 Boston residents to date. We are continuing to see the COVID positivity rates increase and we are experiencing alarming numbers of hospitalization,” said Councilor Arroyo. He continued, “I filed this [petition] with the understanding that COVID-19 is the largest crisis facing Boston in our lifetimes, and that it would be irresponsible for us to allow for the possibility of four in person elections for the same office in a five month span.”

In addition to putting the lives of Boston residents at risk, Councilor Arroyo believes holding multiple elections within the short time period of one year will create barriers to accessibility, lower voter turnout, and place disproportionate burdens on disenfranchised communities, such as immigrant, low-income, disabled, Black and Latinx communities.

Passage of this petition from the Council is just the first step in the process. The petition will now be brought before Mayor Walsh, and also requires approval from the State Legislature and Governor Charlie Baker.