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Councilors to study attempt to eliminate mayoral special election should Walsh leave before March 5

A City Council committee will hold a hearing on a proposal to seek to eliminate a special election for mayor should Mayor Walsh leave for Washington before March 5, following a discussion today in which one councilor managed to insult three others.

Under a schedule set by the city charter, Boston would have to hold a special election for mayor should Walsh resign before then - in addition to the regular fall election for mayor. This potentially means four elections for mayor this year - a preliminary for a special election, a special election and then a repeat in the fall.

Councilor Ricardo Arroyo (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale), who sponsored the proposal, said that in the middle of a pandemic, it makes little sense to force voters to the polls four times in one year and that the money spent on all the elections could be better spent elsewhere.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, Roslindale), however, said it makes sense to spend money on the core pillar of democracy and that he is concerned about messing with well established rules when the game has already started.

Councilor Kenzie Bok (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) agreed with O'Malley, but said she also understands the Covid-19 concern. But she added that short spans between elections might prevent voters from really getting to know candidates. She said eliminating special elections in the same year as regular elections might be worth studying, but if so, it should be done as part of a permanent change to the charter, not a one-off.

A cranky Frank Baker (Dorchester) started by slapping Arroyo, saying it's nice he's concerned about municipal finances now, unlike last year. He noted the change would require approval of the legislature and governor and said he worries the proposal would just get lost up on Beacon Hill. He also said it's pretty obvious the proposal is just an attempt to manipulate the elections to benefit particular candidates and any changes "would just look inappropriate.

And then, after congratulating Council President Kim Janey on her impending promotion to acting mayor, he took a swipe at her: "We're handing the city over to someone who has not been duly elected, for ten months, who has not been duly elected to make decisions for the entire city of Boston, for ten months." He predicted the whole thing would spill over across the entire council, which he said will wind up "looking pretty bad this summer."

He emphasized "I don't have a dog in this race," but then again, if the special election were eliminated, he might just run for mayor in September, after being called "a potato-faced, mealy-mouthed MF'er" on Twitter today. If emotions about him are so strong, it might be worth running, he said, but he concluded that he supports no changes.

Councilor Julia Mejia (at large) supported elimination of the special election this year, for the reasons cited by Arroyo. She added that multiple elections only benefit the small groups that turn out no matter what, and so would hurt the people most affected by the day-to-day decisions of city government. She said in the last council election - in which she won her seat by just one vote - just 17 percent of voters came out.

With four elections in a few months, "we're going to let a few thousand politically active people decide who will be the mayor of 700,000 people for the next four year, because we already know what's up. Don't get it twisted here, we know who comes out in droves in special elections."

Mejia's comments triggered Baker again and he went into Budweiser-ad mode: "Point of interest, Madame Chair! I don't know 'WASSUP'. So I mean, can someone break that down for me?"

Janey said if he really cares, he should take it offline with Mejia.

"Did I say 'wassup'?" Mejia asked.

"We're not going there, please, thank you," Janey added.

Councilor Lydia Edwards promised a fair and complete public hearing on the proposal when it comes to her government-operations committee.

Edwards added that she's not running for mayor. "Good luck to those who really want to, I do not know why, but, it's your dream, your life, YOLO or whatever the hell the kids say."

Only four councilors joined Arroyo in formally sponsoring the proposal: Mejia, Bok, Liz Breadon (Allston/Brighton) and Andrea Campbell (Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale).

After Edwards's committee holds a hearing on the proposal, it will hold a "working session" to draft a possible home-rule request for the council to vote on and send to Mayor Walsh for his action. If he signs off, it would then go to the state legislature.

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Comments

He always comes across like Gym Jordan or Matt Gaetz.

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It was actually two tweets this morning:

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I knew him many years ago. Always seemed to be a decent guy. Came across as thoughtful, kind and respectful. A bit taciturn, by and large a decent guy. Now he seems just plain angry all the time. He acts like a has a huge chip on his shoulder. Maybe he needs to be reminded that not everyone is as fortunate as he is.

Where real wealth exists he enjoys plenty. Solid community, friends, he was always surrounded by people who were exemplars in how to be great neighbors.

Now he just seems constantly peevish, always ready to jump to just nasty and mean. He is a better man than that.

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the same could be said of a lot of straight white men in the last decade or so. perfectly kind, decent people when surveying their lessers from atop the societal throne. but now there's so many uppity people challenging them, and they get angry and bitter and storm federal buildings......

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Lots of decent, good people do not have the temperament for public office. Put Frank Baker up as example #1.

Baker is thin skinned in public. He gets his back up when challenged in public meetings by constituent activists. He complains about being frequently accosted in public for mundane inquiries one would expect a district councilor to receive. He complained about the pay cut he took for becoming a city councilor, vs when he was head of the city's print shop.

These are things no elected official should complain about publicly. Just do your f'ing job, man. You don't like it, then quit!

I have noticed the longer he has been in office, and the more public attention he gets, the worse his behavior has become. I have been writing in names for a few years now for my district councilor vote. I really wish someone would step up and replace Baker, which it seems to me he has been begging for.

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So the charter is so sacrosanct we should have 4 elections in one year despite that being obviously stupid and a public health risk, but the charter is also so poorly written that Acting Mayor-Designate Janey's authority shouldn't be respected?

Hmm I wonder why he might think such a thing about this process as it relates to Janey and not, for example, Menino

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I say split the difference: Don't have a special election but move up the regular election by a few months. Whoever wins gets an extra five months (or whatever) in office.

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That makes to much sense.

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when the Mayor wanted to have Indy cars racing down the Seaport?

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but Mejia makes herself look less than intelligent when she says we shouldn't have a special election because those people who care about their city will actually come out and vote. Um, what??!

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Why is it always a problem following election laws in Boston and Massachusetts?

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So who exactly was Mejia referring to when she said:

"we're going to let a few thousand politically active people decide who will be the mayor of 700,000 people, because we already know what's up; don't get it twisted here, we know who comes out in droves in special elections."

is it politically active white people? old people? townies? potato faced mealy-mouthed motherfuckers?

Either way, Mejia's argument is flawed because without a special election, you're letting exactly 13 politically active people decide who will be the mayor of 700,000 people. That's less democratic than a special election open to all voters.

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Getting appointed is easy. Getting out the vote is an enormous effort!

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She said politically active people, and that's what she means. In particular, probably voters activated by political machines. Aside from people who always vote, a lot of people miss special elections. Without candidates for higher office on the ballot, a lot of machine backed candidates can rise to the top when they ordinarily might not.

In the politics of representative democracies, a political machine is a political group in which an authoritative leader or small group command the support of a corps of supporters and businesses (usually campaign workers), who receive patronage as reward for their efforts. The machine's power is based on the ability of the boss or group to get out the vote for their candidates on election day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_machine

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Mejia won in a low turnout, off-year election.

Turnout this year for a special election for mayor will generate a much bigger turnout, just like in 2013. Whoever wins that, if it is held, will likely not face much opposition in the regular elections, so yes, that will be low turnout.

Stop criticizing citizens who, you know, vote.

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It's all just politics. A special election will favor Wu and Campbell because they have the money and organizations already in place. Nixing the special election will help Janey so she can be Acting Mayor for months and establish incumbency. Same with Essaibi-George and anyone else who needs to get a campaign team together and to raise money. That's all this is, hidden behind moral and ethical claims.

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having four elections in a year is stupid. having council elections on off-years is stupid. the whole system is written so that average everyday people who are busy with their jobs and their kids and eeking out a living in this city just don't have the bandwidth and check out. so yes, it's a few thousand politically active people (not a monolithic group but a number of very small groups) making these decisions. It's the group from JP demanding 100% free housing and the group from West Rox thinking bike lanes are communism and the group from Southie demanding geneologies of 5-generations of born-Boston before you're allowed to buy a condo. A whole lot of fringe people with agendas.

Have the actual election in July - that's six months and change from now, a campaign season shouldn't take longer than that. rewrite the charter so mayoral and council and all other city elections align with ACTUAL FEDERAL ELECTIONS. get more involvement from average working people in the city who just want good schools and functional public transit.

Baker is a f*cking racist. "wassup". After what happened last week, the lack of self-reflection is stunning. Unbelievable.

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Thank you Councilor Edwards for assuring the citizens of Boston that under her watch rules of law will not be ‘bent’, as Councilor Mejia so transparently suggested, to suit a particular agenda.

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Marty Martinez sits anxiously wondering why the folks in Somerville never elected him to Alderman back in the day, nor why the phone never rang from the Biden team for a high profile role in the new administration.

But he could be mayor...

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