Election Day: What You Need to Know — Candidates, Polling Sites, and Nubian Square

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Tuesday's At-Large Boston City Council election is the hot contest, but there is also a very interesting citywide non-binding question.


Before we get into the at-large race, let's talk about that non-binding question:

Do you support renaming/changing of the name of Dudley Square to Nubian Square?

The Nubian Square Coalition is leading the effort to rename the square, which is named after Thomas Dudley, a former Massachusetts governor who supported legislation promoting slavery and the slave trade. Nubian Square would be named after the Nubian Empire, which was an ancient empire that ranged from the Upper Nile to the Red Sea, according to National Geographic.

The proposed renaming is supported by many organizations, individuals, present and past politicians, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey, NAACP Boston, and more.

District races

The District City Council races are sleepy in Jamaica Plain. District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley is unopposed. District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey is being opposed by Roy Owens, who runs for office regularly, and doesn't win, and his perspectives don't align well with the district. District 4, of which a sliver is in JP, has City Council President Andrea Campbell facing Jeff Durham, and she is expected to easily win.

Now the at-large race...

Incumbent Michelle Wu finished first in the preliminary and it wasn't even close. She received 26,622 votes, and the second place finisher received 18,993 votes. Wu has been hammering the state about the MBTA and transportation -- fare hikes, the desire to add bike lanes, and overall dependability. She's so much about the T that she's using the hashtag #BostonTParty to encourage people to vote for her. Then again she's always been about transportation, check out her twitter handle: @wutrain. But she's not a one issue candidate. Just last month she (coverage from Boston Magazine) proposed abolishing the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

Many political pundits presume Wu is setting herself up to run for mayor in two years. It would be interesting to see if Wu's former Harvard Law School teacher, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, supports her in that race.

Interesting side note is that Wu shared an election office with Janey and a fellow at-large city council candidate, Alejandra St. Guillen, who was formerly Wu's boss. While that may be true, and they obviously have a strong relationship -- Wu and St. Guillen are competing for the same four spots.

And if the race shakes out like the preliminary, then St. Guillen gets in, as she finished in fourth in September.

St. Guillen's most recent job was as the director of Boston's Office for Immigrant Advancement, where she led the #toimmigrantswithlove public art project and the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund. Before that she worked as the director of ┬┐Oiste?, Latino Civic & Political Organization where she worked to provide economic justice and reform electoral public policy initiatives that impact statewide communities of color. St. Guillen has been endorsed by Pressley and Attorney General Maura Healey.

Fellow incumbents, Michael Flaherty and Annissa Essaibi-George, finished a mere 227 votes from each other, in second and third. Flaherty led the charge to create recreational marijuana legislation so that the city doesn't get overrun with a pot store on every block. He's also been the lead advocate for the Community Preservation Act in Boston.

Essaibi-George has the backing of Pressley, O'Malley, and Chang-Diaz. Essaibi-George has been trying hard to attack societal issues like ending family homelessness, which you can see more on with this BNN interview.

Side note: Do you think it's fun for Pressley to be endorsing city council candidates? It seems like it is for her.

Julia Mejia finished fifth in the preliminary, only 1,111 votes behind St. Guillen. Pressley has also endorsed Mejia. Pressley has also endorsed Ricardo Arroyo in the open District 5 race. Mejia characterizes herself as an activist, who is a single mother, who was raised by an undocumented mother.

"...in addition to advancing the issue of racial equity, I am also speaking up about the overarching issue of poverty. The opportunity gap in our schools is directly related to family income and the gentrification of our neighborhoods destabilizes poor families and leads to interrupted education," said Mejia on her website.

Incumbent Althea Garrison finished sixth in the preliminary, only 1,079 votes behind Mejia. Garrison actually became an at-large city councilor after Pressley was elected to Congress, and because there had only been five total candidates in the previous election, by law, Garrison replaced Pressley.

Garrison is a strong supporter of bringing back rent control, as is Wu, Mejia, St. Guillen, and David Halbert, reported WGBH.

Erin Murphy finished seventh, and was a Boston Public Schools educator for more than 20 years, and wants a "...re-commitment to a comprehensive vocational high school, and I will focus on providing more inclusive options for our special needs students," according to her website. Murphy wants the school committee to be required to have a city councilor on the committee.

Halbert finished eighth, and would like a hybrid school committee comprised of elected and appointed members. He is the deputy director of community affairs at the Middlesex County Sheriff's office. His role includes serving as the director and lead organizer for the People of Color in Criminal Justice Conference. He previously worked as a liaison for former District 6 City Councilor John Tobin.

Click here to know where you should vote. Polling stations are open 7 am to 8 pm.

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