Boston City Council: Who is running and how to vote

Local News

Boston’s preliminary municipal election will take place on Sept. 12.

Boston City Hall Plaza. John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

Election season in Boston is in full swing, with the city’s preliminary municipal election coming up on Sept. 12. 

Residents will be able to vote for candidates running to represent Districts 3, 5, 6, and 7 on Boston City Council. The purpose of the preliminary election is to whittle down the number of candidates in each race before the general municipal election on Nov. 7. In each district race, voters will have to decide on two candidates to square off in the general election. Districts 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, and the at-large City Council race did not garner enough qualified candidates to trigger preliminary elections. 

Voters can check their registration status on the state’s website. Early voting opened on Saturday and runs through Friday, Sept. 8. Any registered Boston voter can vote at any early voting location during this period. Residents should head to the polling location most convenient to them. Early voting locations by date can be found on the city’s website. Voting can also be done by mail. Applications to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the preliminary election must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Information on getting an accessible ballot can also be found online.

On election day, polling locations will be open throughout the city from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can find their polling locations using the state’s website. 

To find out which district they reside in, residents can use this map from the city. City Council recently underwent a contentious and protracted redistricting process where a judge threw out a previously approved map following a lawsuit bankrolled in part by two councilors. A new map was approved in May. Most of the boundaries between districts were unchanged, but notable shifts happened in Dorchester, Mattapan, and the South End. 

Here’s who is on the preliminary election ballot:

District 3

Frank Baker, who spent 12 years on City Council, is not running for reelection. Competing for his spot are John FitzGerald, Jennifer Johnson, Barry Lawton, Matthew Patton, Joel Richards, Ann Walsh, and Rosalind Wornum. 

FitzGerald, the son of a former state representative, currently works at the Boston Planning & Development Agency. He has listed housing, public safety, and education as top priorities, and received endorsements from Former Mayor Marty Walsh, Council President Ed Flynn, and Baker. 

Johnson, who grew up in Louisiana and moved to Boston in 1989, is a small business owner and civic leader who says she champions progressive causes. She served as President of the Meetinghouse Hill Civic Association, and includes affordable housing and addressing public school inequities among her priorities. 

Lawton, who was born in South Carolina but has lived in Boston for nearly 50 years, is a former Boston Public Schools teacher who includes public safety, education, transportation, and senior services in his priorities. Lawton also touts his experience drafting legislation at the state and city level. 

Patton, an attorney specializing in labor and employment law, says he is focused on workers’ rights, education, and health equity, among other issues. He is calling for immediate action to address the crisis at Mass. and Cass, and is pushing to build infrastructure needed to support affordable housing. 

Richards, a Boston Public Schools teacher and pastor, says he has seen how a lack of funding negatively impacts students and has experience organizing with fellow educators. Serving as President of Fields Corner Main Street, Richards planned events focused on helping local businesses bounce back from the pandemic. 

Walsh, a Dorchester native, previously worked as Chief of Staff for former City Councilor John Connolly. She has received his endorsement, and says she knows how to successfully advocate for constituents within City Hall. She lists government transparency, education, public safety, and transit improvements among her priorities. 

Wornum, who has lived in Dorchester for more than 30 years, says she nearly became homeless and was spurred to dive deeper into community activism. She founded Women On the Rise New England Inc., a nonprofit that helps women who have experienced domestic violence. Wornum recently told The Dorchester Reporter that she wants to convert abandoned buildings into homeless shelters, improve services for those living on the streets, and ensure equitable education. 

District 5

Ricardo Arroyo is running as the incumbent, against Enrique José Pepén, José Ruiz, and Jean-Claude Sanon. Arroyo has served two terms on City Council, working to advance a number of progressive causes. But has also been caught up in controversy. 

Last year, while running to become the Suffolk County district attorney, years-old sexual assault allegations were made public that Arroyo forcefully denies. 

Former U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins stepped down after federal watchdogs accused her of abusing her power to influence the race between Arroyo and Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden. Messages exchanged between Arroyo and Rollins during that race became public, showing that he asked Rollins if she was going to announce an investigation into Hayden. Arroyo was not implicated in any crimes. 

In June, Arroyo admitted to an ethics violation that stemmed from his appearing as an attorney on behalf of his brother. Arroyo’s brother was facing sexual harassment allegations, and Arroyo should have ceased representing him after becoming a City Councilor, the State Ethics Commission said. 

Pepén most recently worked as Executive Director of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services under Mayor Michelle Wu, who endorsed him last month. Pepén says he will focus on major housing investments, anti-racist educational practices, and an intersectional approach to public safety. 

Ruiz, a Puerto Rico native who moved to Boston at a young age, served as a Boston Police officer for 29 years. Ruiz referred to Former Mayor Walsh as an “adviser” to The Boston Globe recently. He says he wants to support new and existing homeowners, improve city services, and build trust between police and the community. 

Sanon, who moved to Boston as a teen from Haiti, runs a company that specializes in translation services. He says the most important issues facing Boston are crime, housing, and access to jobs. Sanon promises to fight rent increases and empower local entrepreneurs, among other actions. 

District 6

Kendra Lara is running as the incumbent. Lara was faced with questions about whether or not she would run again after being involved in a car crash in June. Lara was allegedly driving an uninsured, unregistered car with a revoked license when she crashed into a Jamaica Plain home. She has pleaded not guilty on charges related to the crash. 

Lara, an outspoken progressive, is running against William King and Benjamin Weber. 

King, an IT director at a local conservation non-profit, previously worked in the Boston Public School system. He was born and raised in Boston, and says he will bring a focus on constituent services back to the City Council while prioritizing issues like affordable housing, climate justice, and education. 

Weber, a 15-year Jamaica Plain resident, is a labor attorney at Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. He specializes in class action litigation, representing people like delivery drivers, nurses, and police officers. He also worked as an assistant attorney general under Martha Coakley. Weber’s platform is based on improving schools, protecting workers’ rights, affordable housing, and expanding youth sports. 

District 7

Tania Fernandes Anderson is running as an incumbent. Earlier this year, Fernandes Anderson admitted to an ethics violation for hiring and subsequently giving raises to her sister and son. She is a vocal progressive, and the first Muslim, African immigrant, and formerly undocumented person to serve on City Council. 

Fernandes Anderson is running against Althea Garrison, Jerome King, Roy Owens, and Padma Scott. 

Garrison was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in the 90’s, and to Boston City Council in 2017. She also worked for the Massachusetts State Comptroller’s Office for decades. Garrison, 82, recently told the Globe that, if elected, she would prioritize affordable housing, daycare, and the well-being of older residents. 

King, an employee of the Massachusetts Department of Human Services, lives in the Grove Hall neighborhood of Dorchester. He recently told the Globe that, if elected, he would prioritize affordable housing, public safety, and access to resources for older residents and young people.

Owens, a former Boston Public Schools teacher, has run for positions on City Council, the state Senate, and Congress since 2012. While running against Fernandes Anderson in 2021, Owens was known to drive through Roxbury with a loudspeaker attached to his minivan, GBH reported. He reportedly made xenophobic remarks about Fernandes Anderson. He ran on a platform of right-wing ideals and Christian family values, The Bay State Banner reported. 

Scott, who made headlines for protesting outside Wu’s house last year, says that she will fight against “illegal, unconstitutional, civil rights violating mandates.” She says she will prioritize fighting gentrification, supporting small businesses, and building opportunities for young people.