City Council President Andrea Campbell today proposed changes to the city charter that would extend the current two-year terms of councilors four years and to eliminate the way Althea Garrison became an at-large councilor last month.
Campbell says it's time to synchronize council elections with the mayoral election, because of the usual low turnout in years when only councilors are on the ballot.
Having a municipal election every two years where oftentimes voter turnout is low is burdensome on city resources. Making the term of office for city councillors a four year term will reduce costs in having multiple elections and will allow the city to operate in a more effective and efficient manner.
She added that two years really isn't enough time for councilors to fulfill whatever promises they made to voters.
City Councilor Tim McCarthy, who is not running for re-election this year, says four-year terms would lead to "better quality" candidates.
Campbell filed a separate proposal to change the way at-large vacancies are filled after a councilor resigns or dies.
Currently, the person who came in fifth for one of the four positions automatically ascends to the council. Perennial candidate Althea Garrison, who came in fifth in 2017, became a councilor last month after Ayanna Pressley won election to the US House of Representatives. The nine district council seats are already filled via special elections in the event of vacancies.
"This has nothing to do with Councilor Garrison," but is just an attempt to ensure all council seats are filled the same way, she said.
Garrison, however, opposed the proposal, citing the expense of holding a special election and saying it would be unfair to whoever came in fifth.
Campbell also proposed barring a maneuver her predecessor, Charles Yancey, used in 2013: Running for both mayor and district councilor at the same time. He didn't win the mayoral race but was re-elected to the council. Campbell said Yancey's two-seat run "frustrated some voters."
Campbell's proposals will go to a council committee for a hearing. If the full council approves them, they would need approval of both Mayor Walsh and the state legislature. The council has proposed similar measures in the past, but they have died in the legislature.