Everything you need to know about Boston’s preliminary elections

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Councilor Tito Jackson at the annual MLK Breakfast in January.

By Globe Staff 

Wake up, Boston! It’s Election Day.

Voters citywide will head to the polls to pick the top two candidates for mayor, and some residents will also be casting a vote for a new city councilor for the first time in a decade. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 preliminary elections in Boston.

What is a preliminary election?


In Boston municipal elections, there’s a preliminary contest in which there are several candidates for one office, and voters must narrow the pool to two contenders. The city’s elections are nonpartisan, meaning voters do not pick nominees like in traditional primary contests.

The top two vote recipients in each race, irrespective of political affiliations, will compete in the Nov. 7 general election.

What races are on the ballot?

There are four candidates for mayor, including incumbent Martin J. Walsh. His main challenger is Councilor Tito Jackson. Robert Cappucci, a former police officer, and Joseph Wiley, a customer service representative at MassHealth, are also on Tuesday’s ballot.

There are 13 candidates seeking to fill Jackson’s District 7 seat, which stretches from Roxbury to Back Bay.

District 9 Councilor Mark Ciommo faces two challengers who want to represent the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods, so voters will decide on two final candidates in that community.


In addition, voters in District 1, which includes Charlestown, East Boston, and the North End, and District 2, which stretches from Chinatown and the South End to South Boston, will be casting a vote for a new councilor for the first time in a decade, following the retirements of Salvatore LaMattina and Bill Linehan, who represented those districts, respectively. Voters in District 1 will choose among three candidates, and those in District 2 have seven candidates from which to choose.

There is no preliminary election for Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, or 8, or for the city’s four councilor-at-large seats. There are eight candidates seeking those four at-large seats, including the four incumbents, and those positions will be decided in the Nov. 7 general election.

Who are the top candidates?

That’s up for you to decide.

How can I vote?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters must be registered, but you can check your enrollment status and polling location here.

Milton J Valencia can be reached at
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