The shadow of terrorism did not stop the kickoff of what promises to be one of the busiest election seasons in Boston history: Almost 30 people trekked to the city’s Election Department Wednesday to make the first official step in a run for mayor or City Council.
Wednesday marked the first day that people could sign up for nomination papers, although many of the well-known mayoral candidates stayed away out of deference to victims of the explosions earlier this week at the Boston Marathon finish line. Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced last month that he would not seek a sixth term, and four city councilors have jumped into the race to succeed him, opening more seats and unleashing a generation’s worth of pent-up political ambition.
Twelve of the potential candidates who applied for nomination papers want to be mayor. Campaigns must collect the signatures of 3,000 registered voters to appear on the ballot for the Sept. 24 preliminary election. The requirements for City Council vary depending on the seat. Signature papers will begin to be available April 30. People have until May 13 to apply.
Candidates who applied for nomination papers for mayor included Bill Walczak, cofounder of the Codman Square Health Center; David S. Portnoy, who runs the Barstool Sports website; and Christopher Womack.
One unique candidate was Councilor Charles C. Yancey, who applied for papers for both mayor and City Council.
“What I am doing, as you can see, is keeping my options open,” said Yancey, who for 30 years has represented a district that includes parts of Mattapan and Dorchester. “I don’t have any announcement to make right now. I’m still in the process of exploring a number of issues.”
Two other candidates who hedged their bets and applied for nomination papers for mayor and City Council were Lee Buckley and Gareth R. Saunders, who in the 1990s served three terms in the City Council representing a district that included much of Roxbury and parts of Dorchester. Saunders applied for nomination papers for mayor and for an at-large seat on the City Council. He applied for mayor just in case, he said, but his primary focus will be the City Council.
“It looks like on the City Council there is going to be a vacuum,” Saunders said.
No one in recent history has ever appeared on the ballot for both mayor and City Council. Boston’s charter does not specifically address running for both, although there is a law that would prevent someone from holding both offices. The city’s legal department has been researching the issue of whether someone can appear on the ballot for both positions.
The political implications of trying to mount a campaign for mayor and City Council are another matter. Four sitting city councilors who have declared their candidacies for mayor have said they will not run for reelection even if they could. It would, one of the candidates said, indicate that they had no confidence in their own mayoral campaign.
Others who applied for nomination papers for mayor were David James Wyatt, Divo Rodrigues Monteiro, William J. Dorcena, Althea Garrison, Charles L. Clemons Jr., and John G. C. Laing Jr.
Laing and Clemons are business partners who together helped launched radio station Touch 106.1 FM. The two men hugged Wednesday at the Election Department as they waited to sign up for nomination papers.
“We’re not running against each other,” Laing said. “We’re running for mayor.”
Asked if it was a publicity ploy, Clemons said: “It’s the truth. I love my community.”
Six people applied for nomination papers for an at-large seat on the City Council representing the entire city. In addition to Buckley and Saunders, the other potential candidates are Michael C. Bronner, Christopher J. Conroy, Francisco L. White, and Michelle Wu.
In addition to Yancey, three other people applied for nomination to represent District 4 in the City Council. They were Steven Godfrey, J. R. Rucker, and Terrance J. Williams.
Ava D. Callender and Timothy P. McCarthy applied for nomination papers for District 5, which include much of Hyde Park and parts of Mattapan. The incumbent, Councilor Rob Consalvo, is running for mayor.
Councilor Michael P. Ross also will not seek reelection because he is running for mayor. Richard J. Giordano, Julianna Strout, and Josh Zakim applied to fill the seat in District 8, which includes parts of Back Bay, Mission Hill, Fenway, and other neighborhoods.
When the Election Department opened its doors Wednesday morning, the first in line was Garrison, a perennial candidate who runs in most municipal elections but garners a small share of votes.
She has run for mayor and gathered enough signatures to appear on the ballot. She held office once, for a single term as a state representative, in the early 1990s.
“If I run a thousand times, that’s my prerogative,” Garrison said Wednesday as she waited to apply for papers for mayor. “I have a better shot than some of the others.”