A new Boston City Council is taking shape after Tuesday’s array of competitive races, including five open seats, brought significant turnover to the city’s legislative body, and some historic firsts.
After midnight, with 100 percent of the city’s voting precincts reporting, all of the incumbents running for reelection appeared to have held their seats, while a diverse group of newcomers emerged to fill the open spots, including Tania Fernandes Anderson, a Cape Verdean immigrant who will be the first Muslim to serve on the council in the city’s history.
In the citywide race for the council’s four at-large spots, incumbents Michael Flaherty and Julia Mejia secured another term, and were the top two vote-getters in the field.
Ruthzee Louijeune, a lawyer who represented Bostonians facing eviction and foreclosure and served as senior counsel on Elizabeth Warren’s presidential and US Senate campaigns, secured the third spot, according to the city’s unofficial count. Erin Murphy, a Boston Public Schools teacher, appeared to come in fourth, a little more than a thousand votes ahead of the first runner-up, David Halbert, a former City Hall and State House aide. Two thousand votes behind Halbert was social worker Carla Monteiro. The results were unofficial early Wednesday.
Shortly before 9 p.m., Louijeune was in a celebratory mood. Three dozen supporters cheered as she pushed through silver foil fringe to enter her election night party at dbar in Dorchester.
The candidate was all smiles, dishing out hugs, dancing to Beyoncé and Rihanna, and posing for photos with attendees before a campaign banner.
“Say Ruthzee!” one eager photographer chirped as he snapped a photo. The crowd, hearing his exclamation, cheered. Louijeune declared victory, saying she came in third in the at-large field, based on internal election reporting.
“Politics is often bloody, but it’s about the work and the people,” she told the crowd. “The minute the work becomes about something else, I better find another calling.”
Louijeune will be the first Haitian-American councilor in the city’s history.
At Murphy’s election party at a Dorchester banquet hall, “Piano Man” blared through the speakers of the member’s lounge late Tuesday night, as supporters and friends anxiously awaited the final election results.
The guests were treated to live music, finger sandwiches, and drinks from the bar as the results poured in.
“I’m excited,” Murphy said just after midnight. “Our hard work paid off, and I’m just so grateful to everyone who’s been there straight through. I’m still kind of in shock, after waiting for the numbers to come back, but it seems like we’re safe.”
Meanwhile, in Roxury, Dudley’s Cafe lit up Warren Street as supporters of Halbert came together to await election results.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Halbert provided an update on voting results, which at the time placed him just 43 votes behind Murphy for the fourth and final at-large seat. He said a recount could be in the cards.
“I don’t know what you call this speech — it’s not a concession speech, it’s not a victory speech, it’s a ‘so we’re gonna keep going’ speech,” Halbert said.
The other two candidates in the at-large field, union ironworker Bridget Nee-Walsh and perennial candidate Althea Garrison, lagged far behind the others.
The campaign also featured hard-fought contests for three open district seats.
Andrea Campbell’s decision to step down from the District 4 seat to join this year’s mayoral race set off a nine-way battle to succeed her. In the September preliminary election, voters winnowed the field to Brian Worrell, a real estate broker, and Evandro Carvalho, a former state representative; both are Black men, which meant the council would have at least one Black male councilor for the first time since Tito Jackson stepped down to run for mayor in 2017. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Worrell had 61 percent of the vote to Carvalho’s 38 percent.
In District 7, which includes Roxbury and parts of Dorchester, the South End, and the Fenway, Anderson finished first in the eight-way race to succeed Acting Mayor Kim Janey, with a platform focused on improving affordable housing and funneling more resources to the district. In the final, Anderson, executive director of Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, faced Roy Owens Sr., a perennial candidate and pastor. Owens drew attention for his campaign tactics, including driving a van topped with a yard sign and blasting gospel music, and suggesting that same-sex marriage and abortion rights undercut Black voting power. Anderson trounced Owens, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote. The Associated Press declared Anderson the winner. She will be the first Muslim to serve on the City Council, as well as the legislative body’s first Cape Verdean, first African immigrant, and the first formerly undocumented person.
Perhaps the most heated district race this year was in District 6, where first-time candidates Kendra Hicks and Mary Tamer battled to succeed incumbent Matt O’Malley, who announced his retirement last year. Hicks defeated Tamer Tuesday night 55 percent to 44 percent, according to the city’s unofficial results.
Hicks, who declared her intention to run six months before O’Malley’s retirement announcement, built a lively grass-roots campaign built on progressive ideas for community policing and environmental justice.
In her campaign, Tamer highlighted her past roles as a School Committee member and a League of Women Voters Boston chapter president to show she would be prepared to tackle the city’s educational disparities and low civic engagement.
However, campaign mailers sent by Tamer’s team that Hicks’s supporters deemed racist and fearmongering overshadowed the two candidates’ differences on hot-button issues.
District 5 Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and District 9 Councilor Liz Breadon faced challenges from city gravedigger John White and Brighton resident Michael Bianchi, respectively. Both incumbents were cruising as of 11:15 p.m., and AP declared them the victors in their respective races.
But the most spirited challenge to an incumbent may have been Stephen McBride’s effort to unseat Councilor Frank Baker in District 3. McBride, a Jones Hill resident, marketed himself as a progressive, new voice to replace Baker, a former city printing department worker who has held the seat for a decade. AP declared Baker the winner. The city’s unofficial results showed Baker winning by 3,500-plus votes.
Incumbents Lydia Edwards, Ed Flynn, and Kenzie Bok were running unopposed for reelection in Districts 1, 2, and 8, respectively.
Tiana Woodard is a Report for America corps member covering Black neighborhoods. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @tianarochon. Danny McDonald can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Katie Redefer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.