John FitzGerald won a decisive, 17-point victory over Joel Richards in the race to succeed Frank Baker as the District 3 councillor on Tuesday.
A longtime city planner who currently works at the BPDA, FitzGerald, 41, benefited from close ties to organized labor, developers and other donors to amass the largest election war-chest in the council field. He was buoyed by endorsements from former Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Baker, who publicly backed FitzGerald ahead of the preliminary election in September.
FitzGerald was the clear favorite going into Tuesday’s head-to-head match up after he finished first and well-ahead of Richards in the seven person preliminary contest in September. On Tuesday, Joel Richards won several precincts in Ward 16 and Ward 15, but by margins that could not compete with the lopsided numbers posted by FitzGerald in Neponset and Adams Village.
FitzGerald, for example, won his home precinct (16-9) at the Adams Street Library by a tally of 495-70. The results at the Lower Mills Library were much tighter and offered a glimmer of hope for Richards, who earned 176 votes to FitzGerald’s 181. FitzGerald won a decisive victory at Savin Hill’s bellwether precinct, 13-10, the Cristo Rey School. The final score there: 340-243.
The gap between Fitzgerald and Richards was widest at Florian Hall’s 16-12, near Neponset Circle and St. Brendan’s church that could boast the largest percentage turnout of any precinct in Boston on Tuesday. There, it was FitzGerald 585, Richards 36— a 94 percent take-home haul for the winner.
The turnout was light across Boston, as has become the unfortunate norm, particularly in non-mayoral election cycles. As of 6 p.m., only about 15 percent of Bostonians has cast their votes.
On Tuesday around 9:30 p.m., FitzGerald entered to a raucous scene at his victory party at Landmark Public House in Adams Village. His walk-in was preceded by bagpipes and drums played by supporters from the Boston Police Gaelic Column.
A jubilant FitzGerald told the crowd: “What I want to do on that council is bring those values this district represents. Those are the values of not pointing fingers and not making excuses because excuses are the nails that built the house of failure. We’re about hard work in this community. District 3 is a hard working community.
“I’ve seen hard work lose,” he continued. “But I’ve never seen hard work fail. Do you understand what I’m saying? Something good always comes out of hard work.”
FitzGerald, a veteran City Hall employee who started his career under Mayor Thomas Menino, grew up in a political family. His father Kevin, a served as a state representative for Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain for nearly three decades.
A Boston Public Schools graduate, his wife Meghan works as a public school teacher in neighboring Quincy. The couple have three children: Callan, Mac, and Reese. Two currently attend Boston public schools.
FitzGerald was introduced at his celebration by the man he will succeed on the council, current District 3 councillor Frank Baker.
“It’s been a total pleasure and the joy of my life to represent this neighborhood and to be a person from Boston and have a say in what happens in our schools and on our streets,” Baker said. “Life is all about timing. It was time for me to leave. It was time for me to do something else, but it was also John’s time to come in behind me because I believe the City of Boston is ready for a leader like John whose going to come in and be able to form relationships.
Baker added: “John’s going to be able to stitch together a city council that’s somewhat been unhinged and unstitched. John is going to be somebody that will get in the middle there and pull people together... We need a relationship with the mayor and we need a relationship with all our colleagues.”
Once certified, FitzGerald and the rest of the City Council will be sworn in on Jan. 1, 2024. Baker will serve as the District 3 councillor until then.