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Rare summer special election in Boston to decide newest City Council member

The Boston City Council during a meeting last year inside City Hall. (Steven Senne/AP)
The Boston City Council during a meeting last year inside City Hall. (Steven Senne/AP)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

As a native Granite Stater, I hope someday we’ll all agree that New Hampshire and Massachusetts are both nice states and stop dissing each other.

But first let’s turn our attention back home; we have a local election to deal with.

Boston voters will choose today who gets to join the chaos that has been City Council lately. After former councilor Kenzie Bok was picked to run the Boston Housing Authority this spring, today’s special election will determine who fills her District 8 seat — at least until the end of the year. Here’s what to know:

  • Who’s voting: District 8 includes some of the city’s densest neighborhoods: the West End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway and Mission Hill. Also remember: this election is using the old 2021 map — not the new one that will be used in this fall’s elections.
  • Where do I vote? The city website has a list of the special election voting sites. (You can also look up your ward and precinct here.) Per usual, the polls are open until 8 p.m.
  • Who are the candidates: There are two names on the ballot: Sharon Durkan and Montez Haywood. Durkan is a political consultant and former campaign aide for Mayor Michelle Wu and Sen. Ed Markey (both of whom, along with Bok, have endorsed her). Meanwhile, Haywood is a longtime prosecutor in the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. He previously ran for the District 8 seat in 2019, finishing fifth in the preliminary.
  • On the issues: If elected, Durkan says she’d push for more affordable housing in the district and expanded mental health services for city workers. She’s stressed she’s “the only candidate in the race who has the experience to lead on day one.” Meanwhile, Haywood says his top priority would be the idea of buying a cruise ship to serve as a “floating hospital” for people suffering from drug addiction and mental illness, at least until services are re-established on Long Island. He also has emphasized his support for a fully elected school committee and his opposition to contentious bike lane proposals in Back Bay and Beacon Hill. (On bike lanes, Durkan says she supports “good public process.”)
  • What to expect: If you’re appalled by how low turnout normally is in local elections, you may want to look away from the numbers for a special election in the middle of summer vacation season. However, voters may get two chances to vote in this race. That’s because the seat will be up for grabs again this fall — and Durkan and Haywood are the only two who made the November ballot.

MassDOT’s latest initiative to make the Sumner Tunnel closure a little more bearable is music to MBTA riders’ ears. Literally. MassDot and the T are partnering with the Berklee College of Music to serenade Blue Line riders with “upbeat music” twice a week starting tonight.

  • When and where: Berklee students will perform 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Aquarium stop, and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. every Thursday at Wonderland Station through the end of August.

Heads up, cyclists: The relatively new bike path between Somerville’s Assembly Square and Sullivan Square in Charlestown is shutting down for a month. State officials announced yesterday the Draw Seven Park Path Extension will stay closed until Aug. 24 for repaving work.

  • Wait, for a whole month? Yup. State Rep. Mike Connolly tweeted (X-ed?) that he requested the work because the path was “already showing signs of wear and tear.” He added he’s “concerned and disappointed” such significant renovations were necessary so soon. DCR officials are looking into why.

Just in time for the “heat dome": South Boston’s L Street beach is reopening today for the first time in three years after the city finished renovations to the nearby Curley Community Center. (The refurbished center itself reopened on July 7, but the beach opening was delayed by piping plovers in the area.)

P.S.— We’re hosting a listening session this Saturday in Brockton to hear from the community about the ideas and issues on your mind — and you’re invited. It’s a chance to speak directly to WBUR journalists and help shape our coverage. Space is limited, so RSVP here.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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