The Boston City Council's committee on government operations tomorrow considers a proposal to try to cancel a special election for mayor should Marty Walsh resign his post to move to Washington before March 5.
Currently, the city charter requires that should Walsh leave Boston before that date, the city would have to hold a special election to replace him - just a few months before the regular fall elections to pick a mayor. The city might also need a special preliminary to narrow the field for the special election.
City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) has filed a proposal to seek the required legislative approval to waive a special election - and the likely preliminary election that would proceed it - this year because of Covid-19 risks and the costs of potentially having a total of four elections for mayor this year. Four elections would also benefit certain highly motivated groups, supporters such as at-large Councilor Julia Mejia say.
Some councilors say too bad, the law's the law and let the elections happen, such as Frank Baker (Dorchester). Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury), also opposes trying to bypass the charter provision this year, but with the caveat that he would seek to make any elections as safe as possible in a pandemic - he was one of the first officials last year to call for voting by mail.
Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, Charlestown, North End), who chairs the committee, threw out a new complication last week, sending her colleagues a memo suggesting that councilors who might run for mayor - Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell are running, while Council President Kim Janey would become acting mayor on Walsh's resignation - would face a conflict of interest on the issue and so can't vote. Edwards, who is also a lawyer, says she's not taking a position on the issue, just letting other councilors know what a city attorney concluded.
Arroyo, also a lawyer, however, retorted this weekend that, no, the state Ethics Commission actually says the state conflict-of-interest law does not apply to home-rule petitions to the state legislature, in this case, to bypass the special-election requirement.
The committee hearing begins at 3 p.m. People who want to testify need to request access in advance.