Boston looks to narrow choices in today’s preliminary election

Tito Jackson (left) and Mayor Martin J. Walsh cast their votes in Tuesday’s preliminary election.
Globe photos
Tito Jackson (left) and Mayor Martin J. Walsh cast their votes in Tuesday’s preliminary election.

The two leading candidates in Boston’s preliminary mayoral election cast their votes Tuesday morning in the neighborhoods where their political careers began.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson was the first to vote, arriving at the Holgate Apartments, a Boston Housing Authority senior housing development on Elm Hill Avenue in Roxbury, around 7:15 a.m., becoming one of a small number of people at the polls shortly after they opened.

About an hour later, Mayor Martin J. Walsh arrived at the Boston Public Library branch on Richmond Street in Dorchester’s Lower Mills neighborhood, where he has lived since 2015, having grown up a short distance away in Savin Hill.


The city is holding a preliminary election for mayor and four City Council district seats. Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday across Boston and will remain open until 8 p.m.

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Also running in the mayoral race are Joseph A. Wiley and Robert Cappucci. Cappucci is a retired police officer, and Wiley is a customer service representative for MassHealth.

The top two finishers then face off in the final election Nov. 7.

A few minutes after noon Tuesday, turnout at the Uphams Crossing apartment building in Dorchester, a two-precinct polling place, was at just 81 voters.

Michelle Beazley, an 18-year-old who said she works with kids, said she expected most of her friends to vote, but last November’s national vote had steered her away from predicting the outcome.


“Not with the whole presidential election,” she replied when asked for a forecast.

Veterans of city elections said voter enthusiasm appeared low even for the standards of preliminary votes.

Michael Kozu, who works for the antiviolence and economic-development group Project RIGHT, was collecting signatures, in favor of ballot questions boosting the minimum wage and requiring paid family medical leave, outside the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School on Tuesday afternoon.

Involved in politics since the 1980s, Kozu said the trickle of voters — even at a polling place that served five precincts — was “slow. Unfortunate. Can’t blame the weather.”

When the polls close, Kozu said, “If we’re at 8 or 10 percent, that’d be high.”


“What’s going on federally has put a damper on people’s enthusiasm,” he said.

Ellis Thornton, a Boston police detective, called the limited participation unsurprising.

“It’s a primary,” Thornton said. “Most of the people don’t come out for the primary. Then they complain when their candidate’s not in there.”

Local resident Gina Mariano voted in the preliminary election at the Lower Mills branch of the Boston Public Library on Tuesday.
Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe
Local resident Gina Mariano voted in the preliminary election at the Lower Mills branch of the Boston Public Library on Tuesday.

Preliminary elections are also being held for the City Council seat being vacated by Jackson, a race that has drawn 13 candidates, according to the city’s Election Department.

A preliminary race is also underway in District 9, which covers Allston-Brighton, creating incumbent Councilor Mark S. Ciommo’s first challenge since 2009. He is being challenged by Brandon D. Bowser and Alexander B. Golonka, according to the Election Department.

But the top district race might be the one in East Boston, where voters will choose the replacement for Salvatore LaMattina, who stepped down earlier this year after a decade in office as the District 1 councilor.

Lydia Edwards, a housing and immigrant-rights lawyer who works for the city’s Office of Housing Stability, and Margaret Farmer, who works in the mental health field, are both from East Boston, which accounts for 48 percent of the district.

The third candidate, Stephen Passacantilli, is an operations specialist at the Boston Office of Housing Development who comes from a well-established political family in the North End. His grandfather was a longtime city councilor, Fred Langone.

In the District 2 race to represent South Boston, two gay men are on the ballot to succeed retiring city councilor Bill Linehan in one of the city’s more traditional and conservative neighborhoods, a race that has drawn seven candidates in all.

Corey Dinopoulos, a community organizer who cofounded the privately backed failed Olympics bid Boston 2024, and Michael Kelley, an aide to the late mayor Thomas M. Menino, have emerged as front-runners alongside Ed Flynn, a Navy veteran, probation officer, and son of former mayor Raymond Flynn.

They are running along with Peter A. Lin-Marcus, head of a corporate training firm; Kora R. Vakil, a community activist; Joseph Kebartas, a retired mental health specialist and Army veteran; and Erica Tritta, a lawyer.

Only 15 percent of the registered voters are expected to turn out Tuesday, Secretary of State William F. Galvin told the Globe.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.