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Mejia Wins Boston City Council Recount By 1 Vote; St. Guillen Will Not Challenge02:00
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Newly elected Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia, left, speaks with Carol and James Dryden about issues that concern them during the campaign. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Newly elected Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia, left, speaks with Carol and James Dryden about issues that concern them during the campaign. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Community activist Julia Mejia is now officially the first Latina to serve as a Boston city councilor in the two-century history of the body, winning a recount over Alejandra St. Guillen by a single vote.

Three days of hand counting led to a final tally of 22,492 for Mejia and 22,491 for St. Guillen.

After the recount results were announced Monday afternoon, St. Guillen gave herself 24 hours to deliberate going to court over a handful of contested ballots. She called Mejia Tuesday morning to say she’d decided to end her campaign.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mejia said she’s grateful that the tension between the two progressive Latina candidates is over.

“It was really important for us to continue to keep our city together, not further divide a community that already felt divided over having to choose between one or the other,” Mejia said in a press conference in front of City Hall.

The final moments of the recount took a dramatic turn, as the two candidates were locked in a literal tie after more than 67,000 ballots were counted.

That left the city Elections Commission to deliberate over two contested ballots cast in the Nov. 5 election: one by a voter who had moved to Brookline, and the other by a Boston resident who voted in the wrong precinct.

The commission tossed the Brookline resident’s vote, and counted the vote of the Boston resident, which went for Mejia.

St. Guillen campaign spokesman Alec Loftus told WBUR Monday night the campaign believed she should have won by four votes. But St. Guillen tweeted Tuesday morning that she will not move forward with a court challenge to get certain ballots counted.

St. Guillen congratulated Mejia for "running an inspiring campaign and showing us all what we can accomplish when we have the courage to walk in our power."

In the Nov. 5 election, Mejia and St. Guillen came in fourth and fifth place for the fourth and final at-large seat on the city council, respectively, though the margin was so close — fewer than 10 votes — that both candidates called for the hand tally.

The recount started Saturday morning and continued until after 5 p.m. Monday.

Boston’s interim elections Commissioner Eneida Tavares said it’s exciting to have a role in the city’s political history.

“This is what democracy looks like ... and it just goes to show that every vote counts — and the importance of actually turning out,” Tavares said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated St. Guillen's status on the city council. The story has been updated. We regret the error.\

This segment aired on December 10, 2019.

Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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