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Boston to face crowded ballot

61 candidates qualify to run for mayor, council

Boston voters should prepare to be patient in the voting booth this fall: 61 people have tentatively qualified to appear on municipal ballots as a torrent of candidates vie for mayor and City Council.

Some voters may be aware of the 12 candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Thomas M. Menino. But 19 people are also gunning for the four at-large City Council seats, setting the stage for a race that could easily be as heavily contested and unpredictable as the mayoral campaign.

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Another 31 candidates are fighting for the council’s nine district seats.

Overwhelmed? One name, City Councilor Charles C. Yancey, is poised to appear twice. Yancey submitted enough nominating signatures to make the ballot for mayor and the City Council seat he has held for 30 years representing Mattapan and parts of Dorchester.

The Election Department released an unofficial candidate list Thursday after it finished tallying signatures on thousands of nominating papers. Candidates who failed to meet signature thresholds can request a review, as mayoral candidate Robert Cappucci has already done, election officials said.

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Two others who filed signatures for the mayor’s race but failed to qualify were John G.C. Laing Jr. and David S. Portnoy. Neither could be reached for comment. Election officials must certify signatures by June 25, and candidates will have a week to withdraw before the ballot is set.

All of the nine races for district councilor will be contested, except a seat representing much of Dorchester, where incumbent Frank Baker is running unopposed.

‘It’s good for democracy and good for the city.’ — Gareth Saunders, City council candidate who says he is not worried about the crowded field of competitors.

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Councilor Rob Consalvo launched a bid for mayor, leaving open his seat representing District 5, which includes Hyde Park and parts of Roslindale. Nine candidates stepped up.

The same free-for-all followed in District 8, where Councilor Michael P. Ross is also running for mayor. Six candidates will compete to fill his seat representing Mission Hill and parts of Back Bay, Fenway, and other neighborhoods.

District 2 councilor Bill Linehan of South Boston faces a rematch with his 2011 challenger from Chinatown, Suzanne Lee.

Early attention has focused on the mayor’s race, but the contest for the four at-large seats promises to be almost as competitive. Two incumbents, John R. Connolly and Felix G. Arroyo, both opted to run for mayor, leaving two seats open. Two current councilors at large are trying to hold their seats: Council President Stephen Murphy, first elected in 1997, and Ayanna Pressley, the council’s first woman of color.

Others vying for the seats include two former council members, two former state senate candidates, two Menino administration employees, three community organizers, two candidates with third-party backing, a perennial city election candidate, and a handful of first-time city politics hopefuls.

Both Michael F. Flaherty, a former council president who gave up his seat to run against Menino for mayor in 2009 and failed to regain the seat in 2011, and Gareth Saunders, who previously held a district seat representing much of Roxbury, considered another mayoral run, but both ultimately opted for another try at the council .

“I did my job well when I was on the council, and I have a good sense of the pulse of the city of Boston,” said Saunders, who said his experience on the council is what separates him from many of the other candidates. “I know it’s going to be an interesting summer, but I’m not really concerned about the crowded field. It’s good for democracy and good for the city.”

But the four candidates with council experience should expect nothing close to a cake-walk back to the council chambers, with a slate of well-known political operatives and well-networked community activists attempting to earn spots on the council.

Ramon Soto, a Menino aide and top political operative, and Jack Kelly, who served as the mayor’s Charlestown neighborhood liaison, both boast thick Rolodexes of potential volunteers, donors, and supporters.

First-time council candidate and former Elizabeth Warren campaign staff member Michelle Wu has generated some of the most buzz among the councilor at large hopefuls. She declared her candidacy in December, making her the first declared candidate for city office, and her campaign kickoff in early April packed in more than 200 Democratic operatives, council members, state representatives, and even her former boss, Warren.

Although Wu has never held elected office, the 28-year-old has already won the backing of much of the city’s Democratic establishment and, some speculate, may not only be elected, but may end up as one of the at-large race’s top vote getters.

“Because we have been working since December, we’ve really had time to invest in building relationships with elected officials and voters,” Wu said, adding that she is excited about the crowded field, but admitting she never expected so much competition.

Among the others running for at-large seats are community organizers like Catherine O’Neill of Dorchester, Christopher Conroy of Roxbury, Jeffrey Ross of the South End, and Philip Frattaroli, heir to a group of popular North End Italian restaurants.

Wesley Lowery can be reached at Wesley.Lowery@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.
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