Voter turnout light in Boston City Council race

Alexandria Margil, left, helped her husband, Raymond, cast his vote for Boston City Council candidates at Foley Apartments in South Boston today.
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff
Alexandria Margil, left, helped her husband, Raymond, cast his vote for Boston City Council candidates at Foley Apartments in South Boston today.

As the afternoon wore on, voters continued to trickle to the polls for Boston’s City Council election, despite glorious weather and the drama of several close campaigns.

By 3 p.m. less than 10 percent of registered voters — roughly 34,905 out of a possible 347,353 — had cast ballots.

Turnout was highest in southern Dorchester’s Ward 16, at 18.5 percent. That might have been good for John K. O’Toole, who ran for the open District 3 seat on the City Council. His opponent, Frank Baker, lives in Savin Hill in Ward 13, which had turnout of 11.7 percent.


At Cristo Rey High School in Savin Hill, bored-looking volunteers with colorful campaign fliers jumped to greet the occasional voter who wondered in.

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There weren’t many.

At Florian Hall in District 16, where O’Toole lives, voter Leah Finn, 45, said her main focus was supporting candidates who will work to improve the city’s public schools.

“I have four school age children who can’t go to their neighborhood school so I’m spending all this money to send them to private school,” Finn said.

Despite living in O’Toole neighborhood, she said she voted for Baker in the district race, while casting her at-large ballot for incumbent Ayanna Pressley, and Michael F. Flaherty, a longtime former councilor who is seeking to reclaim an at-large seat.


Also running for at-large seats were incumbents Felix G. Arroyo of Jamaica Plain, John R. Connolly of West Roxbury, and Stephen J. Murphy of Hyde Park, as well as challengers Will Dorcena of Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain’s Sean H. Ryan.

Several miles away in South Boston, poll workers at times seemed to outnumber the voters casting ballots. But by 3 p.m. turnout there was among the highest of any neighborhood.

A strong South Boston vote was also a possible good sign for district City Councilor Bill Linehan, who was trying to withstand a strong challenge. His opponent, Suzanne Lee, lives in Chinatown, which also saw a comparatively large surge of voters, although it represents a much smaller chunk of the district than South Boston.

Strong turnout could also be found in West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. By contrast, in Allston, less than 5 percent of registered voters had cast ballots by 3 p.m. That is not entirely a surprise because the neighborhood is dominated by young people and students.

In Charlestown, Tim Bertschmann, 43, said he voted for only one at-large candidate: Ryan. He hadn’t met the candidate and said he didn’t know much about him — the only reason, he said, is “just that he’s new.”


“My trend is out with the old,” said Bertschmann, a salesman.

Corinne Biggs, 64, came to the polls with her French bulldog, Delilah. She wouldn’t fully disclose her ballot choices other than to say she voted for Ayanna Pressley, the only woman on the at-large ballot.

“Girls have to stick together, right, Delilah?” she said, petting the dog.

The polls closed at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. throughout the state.

Among the races, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong faced a challenging reelection battle, one in a number of hotly contested mayoral races. And Newburyport voters also weighed in on a city charter change.