In Boston, the office of at-large city councilor can be a springboard to bigger things. Ayanna Pressley used it to vault into Congress. Both of this year’s mayoral finalists built their name recognition in the city through their work as at-large councilors. One of the other current city councilors clearly hopes to leap from the council into the district attorney’s office (more on that later). So it’s no surprise that the field was packed with good candidates in the preliminary election, and that the eight top finishers who advanced to the final election on Nov. 2 are generally strong contenders.
Voters can mark up to four candidates on their ballot, and the top four finishers win. The Globe editorial board is endorsing three, and offering some considerations for how conflicted voters might think about their fourth pick.
First, incumbent Julia Mejia merits another two-year term. She won in 2019 by a single vote and has emerged as a valuable voice on the council. She has an independent streak and has been a defender of efforts to make admissions to Boston’s exam schools more equitable.
In addition, the Globe endorses David Halbert and Ruthzee Louijeune. Halbert, who is making his second run for the council, worked for city councilors Sam Yoon and John Tobin and has an understanding of the way the council and the city work that would allow him to hit the ground running. He would also fill a conspicuous absence on the council, which currently has no Black men. Louijeune is a newcomer to city politics but is deeply rooted in the city’s Haitian community and has won the endorsement of prominent politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren, for whom she worked as a lawyer.
Those three seem like easy calls. The fourth slot, though, is where this particular election gets a little tricky.
Normally, this board would round out its slate by endorsing Michael Flaherty, the long-serving South Boston councilor seeking another term on the council. Flaherty was the top vote-getter in the preliminary election, and that’s no surprise; he’s a pro at constituent services, and he’s also helped enact city policies around lobbying and for a “13th year” program in the schools. He has earned another term, and he’s extremely likely to win it.
But there’s a twist. Flaherty has all but come out and begged Governor Baker to name him Suffolk district attorney if and when the current DA, Rachael Rollins, is confirmed to be the next US attorney. Baker hasn’t given any indication of how he leans, but the fact that Flaherty may not serve out his term introduces a wrinkle into voter calculations and makes it particularly important who finishes in fifth place this year, since that candidate would automatically join the council if Flaherty resigns.
For voters who aren’t comfortable with Flaherty’s ambitions — or who haven’t been persuaded by the Globe’s other endorsements — Carla Monteiro would be worth including on their ballot. A social worker who wants to push for more social workers in the schools, she would be the first person of Cape Verdean descent to serve on the council if elected.
With a new mayor, and lots of turnover on the council, the next two years will require strong leadership from at-large councilors. And if the top five finishers in the race are Flaherty, Mejia, Halbert, Louijeune, and Monteiro, it would mean that the city will be well served no matter what happens with the district attorney’s office.
Last month, first-time candidate Brian Worrell topped the nine-way preliminary race to succeed Andrea Campbell as District 4 city councilor. Since then, Worrell, the Dorchester owner of a real estate small business, also earned Campbell’s endorsement over his opponent, second-place finisher and former state representative Evandro Carvalho.
Such impressive support from the voters and the current occupant of the seat is no small feat. Worrell has proved to be a compelling candidate who promises to bring an energetic voice to City Hall on behalf of residents of one of the poorest districts in Boston, which consists primarily of Mattapan and Dorchester, as well as slivers of Roslindale and Jamaica Plain.
Worrell would like to increase support for first-time homeowners in the district through the expansion of the ONE+Boston and ONE Mortgage programs. “There was a $4 million grant that just got passed for Allston and Brighton homeowners,” he said. “I would like to see if we can replicate that program and bring it to Dorchester and Mattapan, or District 4 renters as well.”
Worrell supports increasing the number of police officers of color and favors targeted police budget cuts. He pledged to continue pushing for the police reform policies that Campbell has spearheaded, such as changing how the police contracts govern discipline and overtime. This is despite earning the endorsement of the Boston Patrolmen’s Association, which has clashed with Campbell’s police reform ideas. Worrell has said he sees the union endorsement as an “in” to the upcoming contract negotiations, a view that may prove naive.
Still, Worrell represents the type of collaborative and fresh thinking needed to improve the socioeconomic outcomes of District 4 residents, and the Globe editorial board endorses his candidacy.
Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.