By Morgan Frost (E-board Member – Campaign Relations)
With 12 candidates and just over a week until the primary election, the mayoral race in Boston is intensifying as constituents are seeing heightened conversation and an increasing volume of advertisements. It is an historic race for many different reasons, and these factors have contributed to uncertainty in the outcome. Recent polls show that there is no clear leader in the race. According to a Boston Globe poll, over one-third of voters are undecided, and while Connolly is leading with 13 percent, the margin of error is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points. Currently 9 of the 12 candidates fall within this margin of error, leaving the race pretty wide open.
In addition to uncertainty about whom voters will elect, it is questionable just how many voters will cast a ballot on September 24th; voter turnout is difficult to predict since the last contested mayoral election was over two decades ago, and the last genuinely competitive race over 30 years ago.
The last contested mayoral race was in 1993 in which acting Mayor Thomas Menino won the seat. For over 20 years Mayor Menino has been a dominant political figure in both the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, leaving little room for potential candidates to gain notice.
Not only is this the first election for a new mayor in many years, it is an especially exciting race for Boston because the pool of candidates is very ethnically and racially mixed, representing Boston’s proud tradition of diversity,where 53 percent of the population identifies differently from non-Hispanic Caucasian. In addition to the increasing diversity, minority groups in the past decade have become more politically active throughout the city. Perhaps this could be the race that elects Boston’s very first non-white mayor, a monumental step forward since it is one of two large cities in the North that have yet to do so.
Another factor contributing to the large number of undecided voters is the fact that the candidates share many of the same positions on each issues. Common themes have arisen across their platforms include improving public safety, reforming the public education system, and building a stronger economy. The candidates with the most fund-raising are John Connolly, a city councilor; Daniel Conley, district attorney for Suffolk County; and Martin Walsh, a state representative. Charlotte Golar Richie, a former state representative, is the only woman in the race and leads the minority candidates in fund-raising. Felix Arroyo, a city councilor and the only Latino candidate, is right behind Richie. The other democratic candidates are John Barros, executive director for a community land trust to ensure affordable housing; Charles Clemmons, entrepreneur and Touch 106.1 owner; city councilors Rob Consalvo, Charles Yancey, and Mike Ross; and community organizer Bill Walczak. The only republican candidate is former teacher David James Wyatt.
Surely the race will come down to what us college democrats know most about- getting volunteers on the field to spread the word and GOTV.
At our meeting next Thursday we will discuss each candidate in more depth. I encourage you to cast your vote in the primary on September 24th.
Photo Credit: bostonmagazine.com