Incumbents win City Council races

By John Ruch and Rebeca Oliveira

Gazette Staff

The incumbent candidates won all of the at-large and local district Boston City Council seats in the Nov. 8 election.

In the at-large race, Felix Arroyo, John Connolly, Council President Steve Murphy and Ayanna Pressley retained their seats. Challenger Michael Flaherty finished a close fifth in the balloting. Will Dorcena and Sean Ryan finished far behind.

Incumbent Councilor Tito Jackson held onto the District 7 seat, which includes part of Mission Hill along Columbus Avenue. He defeated challenger Sheneal Parker in a landslide, with more than 84 percent of the vote.

Jackson was not immediately available for comment.

“I worked really hard. I can say I put my all into it,” Parker told the Gazette in a phone interview on Election Night.

Councilor Mike Ross, a Mission Hill resident whose District 8 seat covers most of the neighborhood, ran unopposed. So did Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents part of the Back of the Hill.

“Ideally, democracy should have spirited races,” Ross told the Gazette, saying that running unopposed is “not something to celebrate.”

But, he added, “I’m honored to represent this community. I’m very committed to this community as an elected official and as a resident.”

“After a hard-fought campaign last year, it’s nice” to run unopposed, O’Malley told the Gazette. He said he still wanted to win voter support and was actively campaigning. He ended up earning more votes than any other unopposed councilor—more than 7,600—but also the highest number of blanked ballots and write-ins.

The only change on the 13-member council will be the addition of Frank Baker in the Dorchester-area District 3 seat, which was vacant.

Citywide voter turnout was about 18 percent, which is relatively good for a so-called off-year election with no higher offices on the ballot to pump up the excitement.

Incumbents typically win in off-year elections. But this year, Pressley was seen as vulnerable due to a thin record as a first-term councilor and a weak voter base. Meanwhile, Flaherty—who gave up his seat in 2009 to make a strong but unsuccessful run against Mayor Thomas Menino—was expected to threaten Pressley for the seat.

But Pressley drew attention with an identity politics appeal—she will be the only woman serving on the council. Connolly joined her in a mutual campaign. And Menino was said to be providing ground support to all of the incumbents to keep Flaherty off the council.

In the at-large race, the top four vote-getters win seats. Pressley topped that list with more than 37,500 votes. Arroyo was second, followed by Connolly and Murphy.

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