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Boston’s new mayor will be sworn in mid-November, not January

A vote sign outside Boston City Hall in Boston on Sept. 10.
A vote sign outside Boston City Hall in Boston on Sept. 10.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

After a whirlwind weekend of campaigning around the city, Boston’s mayoral hopefuls planned to also spend Monday making final pitches to key constituencies ahead of Tuesday’s historic preliminary, which will winnow the field of five candidates down to two who will face off in the Nov. 2 final election.

And this race that has been unlike any other also will feature another unusual twist: Whoever emerges from this year’s mayoral race will be sworn in sometime in mid-November, rather than the usual January, according to city officials.

The crowded mayoral race includes City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu; Acting Mayor Kim Janey; and John Barros, the city’s former economic development chief.

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The top two vote-getters on Tuesday will advance to the Nov. 2 general election. Whoever wins the general earns a four-year term as Boston’s next mayor, and typically, they would be sworn-in during January, in accordance with the expiration of the mayoral term.

Earlier this year, the City Council crafted a home rule petition that nixed a special mayoral election requirement in the run-up to Martin J. Walsh leaving his City Hall post to join President Biden’s Cabinet. In making that proposal, councilors found that the city charter states that when a mayor is elected, that person “shall take and subscribe the oaths required . . . as soon as conveniently may be after the issuance of the certificate of election.” (The petition became moot after Walsh stayed on as city executive past March 5.)

“The Councilors recognized that swearing in the elected mayor after certification will clear up confusion between the powers of acting mayor and the powers of a duly elected mayor and follows the will of the voters,” read a committee report on the proposal earlier this year.

In short, that means whoever is elected as mayor will be sworn in after the election certification process, which is expected to be between 10 days and two weeks after Election Day, officials have said. That would mean that Boston’s mayor would be sworn in for a four-year term sometime in mid-November.

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Though unusual, it wouldn’t be the first time. In 1993, then-City Council President Thomas M. Menino became acting mayor when Raymond L. Flynn left to become US ambassador to the Vatican. Menino won the mayoral election that November and was sworn in later that month. His mayoral stint would last more than 20 years.

Changing the swearing-in date to November this year raises the possibility that Boston could have three mayors in one calendar year, should Janey not win.

In the immediate lead-up to Tuesday’s preliminary contest, polls showed Wu with a strong lead, and Campbell, Janey, and Essaibi George jockeying for position in a virtual dead heat for the second spot in the general election.

A recent poll from The Boston Globe and Suffolk University showed that Wu garnered the support of 31 percent of respondents, with a significant gap between her and the next candidate, Janey, who registered 20 percent support in the poll. She was followed by Essaibi George, with 19 percent, and Andrea Campbell at 18 percent. Barros was far behind at 3 percent, according to the poll of 500 likely voters.

A new Emerson College and 7News poll released Thursday night showed Wu with 30 percent support, Essaibi George with 18 percent, Campbell with 17 percent, and Janey with 16 percent.

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If the polls hold, who and how many people turn out Tuesday will play a role in deciding the second spot on the November ballot. If Tuesday brings a traditional municipal turnout — an electorate typically dominated by white and older voters — that would benefit Essaibi George, who is seen as a moderate option in a field that features multiple progressives, said Steve Koczela, the president of the MassINC Polling Group. A high turnout with a diverse electorate would benefit Janey, said Koczela, while polling evidence suggests that Campbell’s ballot box success is much less tethered to turnout levels.

More than 21,000 people already have voted, according to city authorities. As of Friday, the city had received more than 16,000 mail-in ballots while more than 5,000 voters cast ballots in person at early voting sites.


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