Election 2023 | What to look for in today’s preliminary vote

A sample ballot shows this year's choices in the District 3 preliminary. City of Boston image

Voters in a handful of City Council districts face a deadline in choosing their candidates, if they haven’t already voted by mail or in-person at an early voting location.

Polls close at 8 p.m. next Tuesday (Sept. 12)_ in the preliminaries for District 3 (Dorchester and the South End), District 5 (Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roslindale), District 6 (Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury), and District 7 (Roxbury and part of Dorchester and the South End).

The mayor and the four at-large Council slots won’t be on the Sept. 12 ballot. The mayoralty, which comes with a four-year term, isn’t on the ballot until 2025, and the at-large race doesn’t have a preliminary. The eight candidates running for at-large — three incumbents and five challengers — instead will be on the Nov. 7 final ballot, which will also feature the top two vote-getters in the district races.

Early in-person voting began last Saturday and lasts through this Friday, Sept. 8. On Thursday, Florian Hall will be available as an early voting location between noon and 8 p.m., as will St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church in Roslindale. City Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the same purpose on Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

The deadline for vote-by-mail ballots was Tuesday of this week, Sept. 5.

Among the competitive races, District 3 is the only open seat, with seven people running to replace Frank Baker, who was first elected in 2011 and decided against running for another two-year term. In the others, incumbents who have faced scandals over the last year are contending with challengers for their seats.

Here is a look at the ballots in the districts that touch Dorchester and Mattapan.

District 3, which stretches from the Neponset River up Dorchester Avenue and into the South End, has its first open seat in more than a decade. The seven candidates include John FitzGerald, an official with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) who lives in Adams Village; Jennifer Johnson, a Meetinghouse Hill activist; Matt Patton, a Savin Hill labor lawyer; Joel Richards, who lives in Fields Corner and teaches in the South End; Barry Lawton, a former schoolteacher who lives in the Uphams Corner/Savin Hill area; Ann M. Walsh, a Lower Mills resident who recently led an education nonprofit; and housing activist Rosalind Wornum, who lives in Ashmont. Their answers to the Reporter questionnaire are available below.

John FitzGerald | Questionnaire Responses

Jennifer Johnson | Questionnaire Responses

Barry Lawton | Questionnaire Responses

Matt Patton | Questionnaire Responses

Joel Richards | Questionnaire Responses

Ann M. Walsh | Questionnaire Responses

Rosalind Wornum | Questionnaire Responses

• In District 5, Councillor Ricardo Arroyo, first elected in 2019, is aiming to survive the preliminary and get one of the two slots after a spate of scandals, from a $3,000 fine for serving as an attorney to his brother Felix in legal actions involving City Hall to encouraging former US Attorney Rachael Rollins to leak damaging information about DA Kevin Hayden, his opponent in the 2022 Suffolk DA’s race. Arroyo’s three opponents in the preliminary are former Boston Police officer Jose Ruiz of Hyde Park; Roslindale’s Enrique Pepen, a former aide to Mayor Wu and former Councillor Tito Jackson; and Mattapan’s Jean-Claude Sanon, who has previously run for the seat. Their responses to the Reporter questionnaire are available here.

District 7 has Dorchester’s Tania Fernandes Anderson, first elected in 2021, running for reelection. She is facing two perennial candidates, Althea Garrison and Roy Owens, as well as Dorchester resident Jerome King and Padma Scott, an anti-vaccine candidate. Garrison, who frequently runs for public office, has previously served as a state representative and city councillor. In mailers, Garrison noted that Anderson, who chairs the Council’s Ways and Means Committee, proposed to cut money from veterans and police. Garrison also pointed to Anderson violating ethics rules by hiring relatives to work as council staffers. Anderson, who failed in attempting to override several mayoral vetoes, has previously said she regretted the proposed cut to a veterans’ line item. Addressing the ethics violation, which came with a $5,000 fine, Anderson said on Twitter in July that she “messed up and should have paid attention to those training videos.” She added: “I corrected it as soon as I knew better. But I hurt my sister by not doing my research. I had to fire her while her husband waited for a heart transplant.”

A super PAC starts its spending in Council races
A super PAC funded primarily by a real estate businessman stepped into three City Council races this week. Formed in August, the group, called “Forward Boston,” does not have fundraising or spending limits, but it is not allowed to coordinate with the candidates it supports.

Charles M. Talanian, owner of C. Talanian Realty Co., poured $10,000 into the super PAC, which spent roughly $3,000 on advertising, including front page ads in the Boston Herald.

Talanian has donated to a variety of Massachusetts politicians, including former mayors Marty Walsh and Thomas Menino, as well as former Gov. Charlie Baker, according to publicly available campaign finance records. In 2016, Talanian was an event chair of a Cape Cod fundraiser for then-candidate Donald Trump.

The three candidates the super PAC is backing include FitzGerald in District 3, Ruiz in District 5, and William King in District 6. Councillor Kendra Lara is running for reelection in District 6 while facing charges tied to her crashing her car in Jamaica Plain. Attorney Ben Weber is also a District 6 candidate.

Endorsements have also kept flowing: FitzGerald on Tuesday picked up the support of hotel workers union UNITE HERE Local 26 and the Ward 16 Democratic Committee, while Walsh, the former mayor, endorsed Ruiz in District 5.

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