Walsh wins second mayoral term

Walsh wins second mayoral term
Mayor Martin J. Walsh was reelected last week in an unusually low turnout race. / Photo by Brian Bae

By Katie McCreedy and Ellie MacLean, news staff

Boston voters elected Mayor Martin J. Walsh to serve a second, consecutive term as mayor Nov. 7. He defeated District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson by 31 percent, according to the Boston Election Department.

Turnout was low, with only 107,265 Bostonians voting in the election. Of those ballots casted, 70,125 votes went to Walsh. Several Northeastern students turned out to vote in Boston elections.

Callum Roberts, a fourth-year psychology major from Texas, voted for Jackson midday after his classes ended. Few people were at the polling station, so he didn’t face the long wait times voters often encounter in presidential election years.

“The process wasn’t too bad,” he said. “Though, of course, things would have been worse in terms of the experience if turnout had been higher.”

Mayoral elections are held on odd-numbered years, always on the Election Day following the presidential election. Boston mayoral elections are nonpartisan, as are all other municipal elections, so neither candidate ran backed by a specific party. However, all mayors of Boston for the last 87 years have identified as Democrats.

Prasanna Rajasekaran, a fifth-year economics major, said he saw complacency in this election.

“I think most of the results were expected. Walsh won, and so did every incumbent at-large city councilor,” said Rajasekaran, who is from Missouri. “In that way, to me at least, the elections were a little disheartening. The low turnout and the dominance of establishment Democrats shows how Boston is basically satisfied with not supporting Trump.”

Walsh and his team celebrated their win at the Fairmont Hotel Copley Plaza in Back Bay. In a speech to a crowd of supporters and team members, Walsh thanked the group for their support.

“Thank you, thank you all for making your voices heard,” Walsh said.

Walsh closed his speech by emphasizing the emotional importance of Boston in his life.

“[This] is a city of caring and culture, a city for all of us,” Walsh said. “Most importantly, Boston, tonight and for the next four years, we chose each other.”

Jackson began Election Day by voting at his local precinct at the Holgate Apartments in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He then spent the day campaigning throughout Roxbury, stopping at local schools and libraries.

His team celebrated their efforts in the hard-fought campaign at Suya Joint, an intimate restaurant in Roxbury. Jackson gave a concession speech to his supporters during the post-result event.

“It’s always been about the people of the city of Boston and their future and what they need,” Jackson said.

When concluding his speech, Jackson said the media distorted the election and did not focus enough on the issues at hand.

“This has never been personal,” Jackson said. “This has never been about Tito Jackson and Marty Walsh — that’s our problem. We get into the politics of personal destruction.”

It’s unclear if Jackson plans to run for mayor again in 2021 or if he will be running for a different political position in the coming years.

When Jackson picked up his bid for the mayoral election, he left his District 7 city council seat open. That election was a particularly tight race. Rufus Faulk, an anti-violence group program director, and Kim Janey, the senior projector director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, contested for the position, with Janey winning by 12 percent.

In a historic move, Boston voters also elected two female candidates to the city council, including Janey. Now, there will be more women on the council than ever before. Six of the 13 total city council members are women of color.

All 10 district incumbents on city council who ran for re-election won their races. In the open race in District 1, Lydia Edwards beat Stephen Passacantilli by just 730 votes. She was the first woman to run in the district in 25 years and the first nonwhite municipal candidate ever in District 1.

The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, backed four candidates in the Boston, Somerville and Cambridge municipal elections, including Edwards.

Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez, a first-year economics major from New York, spent her Election Day working as an elections inspector and translator in Boston. Benitez helped native Spanish speakers and first- time voters, specifically those who had recently gained citizenship.

“I find that the best way to learn about my new community is to engage with the people who live here,” she said.

After completing the voting process, Roberts — whose representative in District 6 faced no opposition — was mostly optimistic about the election results.

“Cambridge and Somerville elected a bunch of DSA-endorsed candidates, which was fantastic to see,” he said. “We didn’t have the same success in Boston, but it’s good to see across the river.”

Still, Roberts, said he was disappointed that Jackson only received about a third of the votes. He cited the disparity in campaign funds — Jackson raised approximately $230,000 to Walsh’s approximate $2.3 million.

It was this vast fiscal difference which led him to inquire, “Who does the Boston bourgeoisie prefer, and who is actually beholden to the people?”

Benitez said she was also pleased as the results of the election aired, though she said there is greater potential for Boston’s political leaders.

“I could not be prouder of the diversity of our local leaders,” she said. “It’s incredibly important to have equitable representation to create efficient policy for the neighborhoods of Boston. With 45 percent of Boston’s population identifying as nonwhite and several large ethnic groups not represented, there is room to grow.”

Several other election results marked political change in Massachusetts. As Framingham transitions from New England’s largest town to a city, they elected Yvonne Spicer, an executive at the Museum of Science and a woman of color, as their first mayor. Likewise, in Newton, Ruthanne Fuller was also elected the first female mayor.

Mayors have no term limits, meaning they can serve for as many consecutive terms as they are elected, and each mayoral term lasts four years. Thomas Menino, Walsh’s predecessor, served five-and-a-half terms and is Boston’s longest serving mayor, with nearly 22 years in the position.

The next mayoral election will be held in four years in 2021.

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