With the retirement of three district city councilors, neighborhoods across the city are experiencing the rarest of Boston phenomena: an open race. If the past is any guide, the winners of the three seats will probably stick around for awhile. Although the challenges vary between districts, all of the Globe’s endorsed candidates share key goals: They all desire to use their council seat to make the city more prosperous and equitable.
No preliminary election was as close as the District 1 runoff, with only 77 votes separating the top two candidates who advanced to the final: Lydia Edwards, an attorney and activist in her second run for political office, and Stephen Passacantilli, who has worked at the grass roots of city politics and comes from a long line of public servants.
Both would bring valuable City Hall experience to represent the district that covers East Boston, the North End, and Charlestown. Edwards, a resident of East Boston, joined the Walsh administration a little over a year ago as the deputy director of the newly created Office of Housing Stability; Passacantilli, a North End native, coordinated constituent services in the district for outgoing councilor Salvatore LaMattina for a few years, and now works for the Boston Transportation Department.
The two candidates have different visions for the role of city councilor. Passacantilli sharply focuses on the constituent services aspect of the job — the nuts and bolts. Edwards does too, but also brings more of a big picture perspective. In a district that notably struggles with housing affordability, Edwards’s ideas and record as an advocate for immigrants and workers’ rights would be more than welcome.
As East Boston, the largest neighborhood in the district, debates the possibility of rolling out the red carpet for Amazon’s new headquarters at Suffolk Downs, voters will be best served by a representative in City Hall who will heed their traffic and environmental concerns. They also deserve a councilor with a sophisticated understanding of housing policies as Boston, a city of renters, struggles to create better pathways to home ownership and more affordable options. That person is Lydia Edwards, and the Globe endorses her for District 1 councilor.
As usual, the District 2 race has shaped up as a contest between a candidate who’s from South Boston — and one who isn’t. But both men, Ed Flynn and Mike Kelley, deserve better than to be viewed just as proxies for their neighborhoods.
The seat opened with the retirement of Bill Linehan, a South Boston stalwart who survived several close challenges. The district includes Southie, the South End, and Chinatown, and slivers of a few other neighborhoods.
The son of former Boston mayor Ray Flynn, Ed Flynn served in the Navy and now works as a probation officer. He learned constituent services as a child, answering his dad’s phone, and residents can count on him to be a reliable public servant.
Kelley, a former aide to Mayor Tom Menino, lives in the South End, and electing him would break the Southie political establishment’s longtime hold on the seat. But Kelley’s main strengths have nothing to do with geography. He has nuanced views on development and parking, and doesn’t hold fast to the unrealistic idea of rebuilding the Long Island bridge. Kelley’s years of City Hall experience as a liaison to the gay and lesbian community suggest that he can hit the ground running on delivering constituent services, a key part of a district councilor’s job.
There’s no bad candidate on the ballot. The Globe endorses Kelley, but whichever candidate wins, residents of District 2 will be well served next year.
In one of the most hotly contested open races, the District 7 seat in the Boston City Council — vacated by Tito Jackson, who is running for mayor — attracted 13 candidates.
It is one of the poorest districts in Boston, anchored in Roxbury and including parts of Dorchester, Fenway, Jamaica Plain, and the South End. Perhaps no other region in the city exemplifies how palpable income inequality has become, with concentrated areas of poverty, the best- and worst-quality public schools, and a small-business community struggling to take off.
Kim Janey, a children’s and education activist with a proven track record of advocacy in the community, emerged as the top vote-getter in the preliminary, earning 25 percent of ballots cast. Rufus Faulk, an antiviolence advocate, came in second, with 12 percent. Both were born and raised in the district, and have a deep understanding of the complicated challenges residents face.
As the program director at the Boston TenPoint Coalition, Faulk knows what it takes to steer troubled youth away from street violence. He speaks passionately about education and increasing early access for kids of color to advanced work classes.
For her part, Janey is no stranger to Boston’s troubled past and present. As a child, she was in the middle of the school desegregation crisis, and was bused to school in Charlestown. She has long fought for a more effective parental voice in the public school system, and has sensible policy ideas to help attract better principals to lead Boston schools.
The Globe endorses Kim Janey for District 7. She would be the first woman to occupy the position, and promises to be an effective voice for the district. Should Janey win, she would have in Faulk more than a constituent and former opponent, but also a complementary voice in addressing the many issues facing District 7 and the city as a whole.