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Multiple Boston City Council contests to be decided on Tuesday

Campaign signs line the railings at Symphony Plaza housing by Massachusetts and Huntington avenues in Boston on preliminary election day.
Campaign signs line the railings at Symphony Plaza housing by Massachusetts and Huntington avenues in Boston on preliminary election day.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Although overshadowed by a historic and crowded mayoral election, Boston voters also headed to the polls Tuesday to winnow a broad and diverse field of 48 City Council candidates running for district and at-large seats.

The legislative body is poised to undergo the biggest shake-up since 1993: five council seats are open this year, in large part due to mayoral ambitions.

Four of those vacancies were created when councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu, as well as Acting Mayor Kim Janey, decided to try their luck in this year’s mayoral race rather than run for another term on the council. (Janey technically retains her council seat even as she serves as acting mayor.)


The fifth open seat was created when Councilor Matt O’Malley, a 10-year-veteran from Jamaica Plain, opted to not seek another term.

Election results were not available as of late Tuesday night, due to delays in processing mail-in ballots and votes cast early, according to the city’s election office.

The influx of new councilors comes as the city confronts several urgent issues: struggling schools, an affordable housing crisis, worsening economic inequality, climate change, and a pandemic with no end in sight.

A Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll last week of 500 likely voters showed that the issues Bostonians care most about in this election are education (20 percent), housing (19 percent), racism and equity (17 percent), and the economy and jobs (14 percent).

The council candidate slate was diverse, with more than a dozen women and nine council hopefuls who are Black immigrants, coming from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cape Verde, Somalia, and Nigeria, among other nations.

Though their backgrounds and vocations vary, many of the candidates said their struggles navigating Boston’s complex social service and education systems and adapting to American society inspired them to run for public office.


Seventeen candidates ran for the four at-large posts that represent the entire city on the council. Two of those spots are open thanks to Essaibi George and Wu running for mayor.

The at-large field will be trimmed to eight candidates who will move on to the general election.

Preliminary elections for seats in districts 4, 6, 7, and 9 are also on tap. The top two vote-getters in each ward Tuesday will advance to the November ballot.

Campbell and Janey represent districts 4 and 7, respectively, and their departures mean those seats are wide open. In District 4, which primarily covers Dorchester and Mattapan and parts of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, there were nine candidates running to succeed Campbell in the preliminary.

In Janey’s District 7, which is anchored in Roxbury, and includes parts of the South End, Dorchester, and Fenway, there were eight people vying for that spot.

Meanwhile, a trio of candidates were running in District 6, which O’Malley has represented. Winnie A.I. Eke, Mary Tamer, and Kendra Rosalie Hicks are vying to represent the district that includes Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, and parts of Roslindale and Roxbury.

And in District 9, which covers Allston-Brighton, incumbent Councilor Liz Breadon faced off against two challengers on Tuesday: Michael J. Bianchi and Eric J. Porter.

In other council districts, there were not enough candidates to warrant a preliminary race.

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald. Tiana Woodard is a Report for America corps member covering Black neighborhoods. She can be reached at tiana.woodard@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tianarochon.