Top tier emerges in at-large council race

Incumbents Pressley and Murphy among top vote-getters

Campaign workers showed their support outside the Curley School in Jamaica Plain on Tuesday.
Campaign workers showed their support outside the Curley School in Jamaica Plain on Tuesday.

Two incumbents, a former city councilor, and a young newcomer formed a clear top tier on Tuesday leading an enormous field of 19 candidates seeking four citywide seats on the Boston City Council.

With all votes counted, incumbent Councilor Ayanna Pressley topped the ticket, as she did two years ago in the city’s final election for at-large city councilor.

Close behind was former councilor Michael Flaherty, who in 2009 surrendered his seat for a failed campaign to unseat Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Flaherty narrowly missed winning a council seat in 2011, finishing fifth and just out of the running in November.


Incumbent Stephen J. Murphy, the current council president, was running in third place in Tuesday’s preliminary election.

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South End newcomer Michelle Wu, 28, a staff member on Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign, was running a strong fourth in the preliminary election, rounding out the clear favorites among citywide council hopefuls, according to unofficial city results.

The top eight finishers in the preliminary race will move on to the final election in November. The top four vote-getters in November will win at-large seats on the council.

Wu had roughly twice as many votes as the fifth place candidate, Martin Keogh, a West Roxbury lawyer who previously worked at City Hall as an aide to former councilor Peggy Davis Mullen.

Jeffrey Michael Ross, a lawyer who ran for state Senate in 2007, was next, followed by Annissa Essaibi-George, an East Boston high school teacher and small business owner.


Jack F. Kelly III of Charlestown finished in the eighth spot. The former neighborhood coordinator for Menino is a community relations worker at Massachusetts General Hospital. Kelly talked openly on the campaign trail about his former addiction to the pharmaceutical drug Oxycontin.

The first-time candidate was in an ebullient mood after making the final Tuesday, and sounded hopeful for the final election. “I feel I have a lot of room for improvement,” he said in a Globe interview. “Now I have to reach out to people who were on other campaigns or supporting other campaigns and get them on board with mine.”

There will be at least two new at-large councilors next year, as incumbent councilors Felix Arroyo and John Connolly were not on the council ballot Tuesday, having chosen instead to campaign to replace Menino, who is not running for reelection. Connolly finished second in the preliminary election for mayor Tuesday night, in position to make the November final. Arroyo was back in fifth place.

Flaherty, in an interview, credited his strong finish to his get-out-the-vote efforts. “I’ve been confident in my citywide organization, both in the past and this year,” he said, shortly after the votes were tallied. “And they really stepped up for me today.”

Large fields competed Tuesday to fill district ward seats vacated by councilors joining the mayor’s race.


In District 5, Timothy McCarthy, a Boston Public Works manager, will face off against Jean-Claude Sanon, who owns a translation and legal services business. Josh Zakim, a lawyer with Greater Boston Legal Services, enjoyed a healthy lead in the District 8 race. City Council chief of staff Michael Nichols finished second.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark