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In light of Walsh departure, Boston councilor wants to override special election requirement

A sign informs voters of election day at Boston City Hall during the Massachusetts State Primary on SeptJOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

A Boston city councilor is seeking to override a city charter requirement that calls for a special election in the event Mayor Martin J. Walsh leaves office for the labor secretary post before March 5.

If Walsh resigns before that date, the city would have to hold a special election this year, in addition to regularly scheduled municipal elections scheduled for September and November, according to a proposal from Councilor Ricardo Arroyo.

In pushing for the change, Arroyo said that organizing and executing multiple municipal elections in a single year would place “a large financial burden” on the city and pose a health risk to voters amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also foster low voter turnout, he said.


“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 said in a statement Friday.

The council would need a simple majority to pass the home rule petition and the mayor would need to sign off on the matter before it would head to the State House, where it would need approval from lawmakers and the governor.

President-elect Joe Biden tapped Walsh, a 53-year-old Dorchester Democrat in his second term as mayor, to be labor secretary on Thursday, a move that shakes up city politics and is likely to open up the field in this year’s mayoral race.

Two councilors, Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell, have announced they are running for mayor.

After Thursday’s news, other city politicos are said to be contemplating a run for City Hall’s corner office. Suffolk County Sheriff Steve W. Tompkins is considering jumping into the race, saying he could bring a different perspective as a Black man and executive. State Representative Jon Santiago, a South End Democrat and Boston Medical Center emergency room doctor, said he is weighing whether to run.


In addition, Annissa Essaibi George, an at-large city councilor; and state Representative Aaron Michlewitz, the House’s budget chairman are considering running, people close to each of them said. A person close to state Senator Nick Collins said the South Boston Democrat also hasn’t ruled out a campaign.

Council President Kim Janey, who would become acting mayor if Walsh steps aside, is also considering running, according to people who know her.

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.