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Expect Many New Faces On Boston City Council

BOSTON — Change is coming to Boston city government on Tuesday, when voters elect a new mayor. But they will also choose a host of new Boston city councilors.

Four of the 13 council members gave up their seats to run for mayor, which means there will be at least that many new faces on the next council. 

The only woman on the council, City Councilor-At-Large Ayanna Pressley, of Dorchester, is seeking her third term.

“I do believe my presence has brought a different optic and perspective,” she said.

Pressley is one of eight candidates running for the four at-large seats on the council. The field of eight was narrowed down from 19 in September’s preliminary election. Pressley came out on top in the preliminary.

Former At-Large Councilor Michael Flaherty, of South Boston, came in second.

“This is an exciting year for Boston,” Flaherty said. “We will have new energy and excitement with the fact that we’ll have new cabinet members, new commissioners and new superintendents, new department heads.”

Flaherty had served on the council for 10 years. He gave up his at-large seat in 2009 when he ran for mayor and failed to unseat Mayor Thomas Menino. While Boston has a strong mayor form of government, Flaherty said the city council can be an effective bully pulpit.

“Tom Menino wanted to move City Hall, the people’s building, to the South Boston waterfront,” he said. “I, as president of the city council, challenged him on that, held public hearings and guess what, where is City Hall? Still at Government Center.”

The current council president, Stephen Murphy, of Hyde Park, has served 16 years in office. He came in third in the preliminary.

The fourth finisher in the preliminary was newcomer 28-year-old Michelle Wu of the South End, a Harvard Law School graduate who’s been a troubleshooter in the Menino administration and worked on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.

The only other woman running for an at large seat is Annissa Essaibi George, the mother of four boys, including 7-year-old triplets. She teaches at East Boston High School and owns a yarn store in Dorchester.

“I’m running because I think it’s important to have the perspective of a mother, a teacher and a small business owner on the Boston City Council,” George said.

Also running at-large is attorney Martin Keogh, of West Roxbury, who is pushing for strengthening the policy that gives Boston jobs to Boston residents.

And on the ballot: immigration attorney Jeffrey Ross of the South End/Lower Roxbury; plus Jack Kelly of Charlestown, who is running on his biography, which includes overcoming drug addiction. He said it started with a high school hockey injury.

“At 16 years old, I got hooked on Oxycontin and, three years later, I was a homeless heroin addict because of that,” Kelly said. “And just like thousands and thousands of kids throughout Boston who’ve been affected by that addiction because of that pill, I simply represent a lot of them. It’s been 10 years since I got sober, my life is good, I own a condo, gainfully employed, I’ve turned my whole life around.”

Perhaps the most closely watched district city council race is the rematch in District 2, which includes South Boston, Chinatown and parts of the South End.

Suzanne Lee, an educator and community activist from Chinatown, is challenging incumbent Bill Linehan of South Boston. Two years ago, Linehan beat Lee by just 97 votes.

District 4 includes parts of Dorchester and Mattapan. There, incumbent Councilor Charles Yancey has held the seat since 1983. Yancey is facing a strong challenge from newcomer Terrence Williams, in part because Yancey played it safe and ran for two offices in the preliminary, coming in 10th out of 12 candidates for mayor, but topping the field in his district.

At least one incumbent district councilor faces a strong write-in campaign.

In District 7, which includes Roxbury, incumbent Tito Jackson is facing a ballot challenge from perennial candidate Roy Owens. He’s also the target of a sticker campaign by longtime community activist Jamarhl Crawford of the online news publication, Blackstonian.

“At the end of the day, voting is a crap shoot,” Crawford said. “You never know what is going to happen. there are many people who thought they were a shoo-in to win and they’ve been upset. Many people, people said they didn’t have a chance and then they win. You just never know what voters are going to do on that day, what the turnout is going to be.”

We do know that there will be at least four new council members, two of them at-large, replacing Felix Arroyo, who failed in his bid for mayor, and John Connolly who is in the mayoral final.

There will be two new district councilors, replacing incumbents Rob Consalvo and Mike Ross, who also failed in their mayoral bids.

Consalvo’s District 5, which includes parts of Mattapan, Hyde Park and Roslindale, features city public works department manager Timothy McCarthy, of Hyde Park, and immigration activist/businessman Jean-Claude Sanon, of Mattapan.

In District 8 — the Back Bay, Fenway, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill and the West End — one of the finalists is Josh Zakim, of the Back Bay, son of the late Lenny Zakim, the man for whom the Zakim Bridge is named. Zakim topped the field of eight candidates in the preliminary to replace Ross and faces Michael Joseph Nichols, of Kenmore Square, in Tuesday’s election.

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