Councilor wants elections only every four years and to change the law that let Garrison get on the council

City Council President Andrea Campbell today proposed changes to the city charter that would extend the current two-year terms of councilors four years and to eliminate the way Althea Garrison became an at-large councilor last month.

Campbell says it's time to synchronize council elections with the mayoral election, because of the usual low turnout in years when only councilors are on the ballot.

Having a municipal election every two years where oftentimes voter turnout is low is burdensome on city resources. Making the term of office for city councillors a four year term will reduce costs in having multiple elections and will allow the city to operate in a more effective and efficient manner.

She added that two years really isn't enough time for councilors to fulfill whatever promises they made to voters.

City Councilor Tim McCarthy, who is not running for re-election this year, says four-year terms would lead to "better quality" candidates.

Campbell filed a separate proposal to change the way at-large vacancies are filled after a councilor resigns or dies.

Currently, the person who came in fifth for one of the four positions automatically ascends to the council. Perennial candidate Althea Garrison, who came in fifth in 2017, became a councilor last month after Ayanna Pressley won election to the US House of Representatives. The nine district council seats are already filled via special elections in the event of vacancies.

"This has nothing to do with Councilor Garrison," but is just an attempt to ensure all council seats are filled the same way, she said.

Garrison, however, opposed the proposal, citing the expense of holding a special election and saying it would be unfair to whoever came in fifth.

Campbell also proposed barring a maneuver her predecessor, Charles Yancey, used in 2013: Running for both mayor and district councilor at the same time. He didn't win the mayoral race but was re-elected to the council. Campbell said Yancey's two-seat run "frustrated some voters."

Campbell's proposals will go to a council committee for a hearing. If the full council approves them, they would need approval of both Mayor Walsh and the state legislature. The council has proposed similar measures in the past, but they have died in the legislature.



Free tagging: 



I would, but it's your site,

I would, but it's your site, so don't do it if you don't want to. I was mostly wondering if the bylines got eaten when the unintended format changes happened last time.

otherwise known as the Incumbent Protection Act of 2019

If the council TRULY cared about democracy and inclusion (and saving money!) they would move the Mayoral elections to the same time as the Presidential elections. This would roughly double voter turnout and would save millions of dollars in holding off year elections with 10 to 15 % voter turnout. I've been proposing this for 15 years or so.

Holding off year elections allows the councilors to run for other offices in even year elections like Steve Murphy, for example, did many times without having to give up their 'safe' seats.

I'm interested if people think there is a downside to this, I haven't heard any strong arguments against. What is the matter with doubling voter turnout and saving millions of dollars. Seems like a win/win to me.


What does the City Council

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What does the City Council have against African American transgender Republicans?

It's like the Council isn't even trying to hide their open bigotry against minority groups when they dare to break political stereotypes.

Between the snub on the first day, snub at the State of the City Address, and now this, it's pretty obvious Boston's political scene is every bit as bad as some Jim Crow era hellhole.


Andrea Campbell is carrying water for some one.

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Campbell is way off base. I'd love to know who's pushing this.

The problem we have in Massachusetts is incumbent advantage.

Doubling the length of the term in office has no effect on incumbent advantage other than to require 1/2 as many elections to keep the seat. Half as many campaigns for office where you make your argument and state your priorities and defend them if you have a challenger.

She's actually proposing that city council have a 4 year term, twice as long as Congress, twice as long as MA House of Reps. twice as long as MA Senate. And her argument about the person who comes in #5 in 4 city wide seats shouldn't get the seat, why not?

Council seats have so little power (and such high pay) except as a majority of the chamber in opposition of the mayor's agenda.

What snubs?

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What happened on each of these occasions, or are you just being snarky?

The city councilors are

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The city councilors are against someone who the voters voted against around 18 times and now is sitting on the city council with only 7% of the vote has nothing to do with the factors you mention.

As to the state of the city address, the person you are referring to kept insisting that they could enter at the main door because they were a "councilor." For security reasons or organizational reasons given the large number of people and press the tickets told people to enter through a side door which was not the main door. The police unaware of this directed some people who asked directions to the main door. At the main door they allowed people to wait inside the vestibule where it was warm until the doors to the event opened. The main door was at all times locked and never opened for anyone. Once the side door to the event opened everyone except this person left the vestibule and went to the side door. This person stayed in the vestibule insisting that they could to through the main door because they were a "councilor." The main door was locked and never opened and eventually this person came to the side door.

Pat? or Kevin?

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I''m confused . I thought that you legally changed your name to Pat Payaso. Yet you are posting under your former name, ( assuming that is you). Are you posting under your Kevin name to avoid the well deserved ridicule of your Pat name, or what? Enquiring minds want to know.

Less NIMBYism?

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One advantage of a four-year term is that it would probably reduce the electoral impact of NIMBY voters. Right now, the councilors are so beholden to the small minority of loud naysayers in their districts who oppose everything but always vote. Four years would give them more space to stick their necks out.


Yuppies and Millenials

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are in the City short time. 3 years is the average stay. So elections every 4 years would not effect them even if they did register to vote in another City other than their parents address.


Sources please. I've a

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Sources please. I've a Millennial and I've been in Boston since 2004, and I'm certainly not the only one.



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But the trolls in this sort of back and forth are people who write off all young people off as "transplants," "millenials," or "yuppies." All arguments are in bad faith, i.e. trolling.

I'd love to know

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what surveys are being done to figure out how long yuppies live in Boston. Is yuppie-status based on self-identification, or just a combination of job/neighborhood, do you think?

If you are Gen-X

Then "yuppies" were the condo buyers in the 1980s and 1990s who would refer to longtime features of their neighborhoods as "devaluing" their property.

Those people are now known as NIMBYs.


The difference is

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Yuppies call them alderman and Millenialsbcall them selectman. That alone proves they've never been in a Boston polling location.

And your reply proves you don't live in Boston at all

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Nobody calls Boston city councilors "aldermen." Except maybe, possibly, one or two people who moved here from Somerville 30 or 40 years ago (bonus fact check: When was the last time Boston had aldermen?).

And I really doubt any millennials are calling them "selectmen," either.

30 y/o milllennial "young

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30 y/o milllennial "young professional," here since 2007 (continuously, except summer of 2008).

The ones that don't stay don't vote because they don't care. Students usually do absentee ballots. Working recent graduates often won't vote in city councilor elections.

Not transparency! Not access! Decrypt the Steno!

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Not transparency! Not access! Hard of hearing folks, deaf folks have too limited access to Boston City Council... DeCrypt the Stenographic Record. Boston City Council President Campbell will only make the Steno available for hard of hearing folks unintelligibly encrypted! Get new Central Council Staff with better, more up to date knowledge of technology/software for a more open, more transparent Office of government. Elect new Candidates for City Council !

Not really

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I don't see this as goalpost shifting so much as just rule changing of the game in general. Moving the goalposts generally means that people are already vying for something and you're unfairly making the burden more difficult. Unless you're trying to make the argument for others who ran and were unsuccessful and are owed due if other Council Members leave/vacate their seats. I'd still think that was a stretch.

I'd much prefer a seat being vacated trigger a special election, personally (though I'm not an expert on the subject and would love to hear other ideas).

"This has nothing to do with

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"This has nothing to do with Councilor Garrison,"

And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.


What problem does "One office

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What problem does "One office at a time proposal" solve?

If a councilor wants to run for Mayor and reelection at the same time, I don't see how that's a big deal. Sure, if they win the race for mayor, then it creates a vacancy for the council seat, but it's not like that happens often.


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"Campbell's proposals will go to a council committee for a hearing."

What Council Committee?

Good question

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If I had to guess, the committee on government operations, chaired by Michael Flaherty.

How hard is being a City Councillor?

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I mean, if you are a member of either chamber of the Massachusetts General Court or a member of the United States House of Representatives, you run for re-election every 2 years, yet somehow the General Court passes a budget, even in election years, while Congress handles weighty national and international issues. Those bodies do some serious lifting. Meanwhile, the City Council is not even allowed to alter the Mayor's budget, only approve or disapprove it, and the most earth shattering ordinance they've passed in recent years is the bag ban.

Shorter terms puts you closer to the voters. Two years is a good length for someone who is supposed to be the voice of the people.


That argues instead for ...

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... making the Mass. general court a 4 year term, and abolishing the state senate (there is no reason for any state to have a bicameral legislature).

The MA Senate used to be

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The MA Senate used to be apportioned by geography to serve as a balance between rural and urban interests in legislation similar to the US Senate's structure balancing small states vs. large ones. When the US Supreme Court did away with that in the 1960s this urban to rural balance was lost and the point of the state senate ceased to exist.

Special elections are low turnout

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Special elections have the absolute lowest turnout. Althea Garrison has a better claim to the seat as the fifth-place finisher in a general election than someone who would be elected by the tiny fraction of the electorate that would show up for a special. Maybe hold a special election in conjunction with the next upcoming election, whether city, state or federal. This would save money and ensure a decent turnout.

Hearing 2:00 PM Monday 11 February 2019 City Hall 5th Floor

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Government Operations Hearing Notice -
Petitions for Special Laws
Docket #0311 - An Act Regarding the Terms of Office for City Councillors,
Docket #0312 - An Act Relative to Election Procedures in the City of Boston
Docket #0313 - An Act Concerning a Vacancy in the Office of City Councillor-At-Large.

2:00 PM Monday 11 February 2019
Location: Iannella Chamber
1 City Hall Square, 5th Floor
Boston Massachusetts 02201

Signal and noise

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Both the 4-year-term proposal and the not-about-Althea-Garrison proposal address a fundamental problem with low-turnout, small-democracy elections; when the proportion of the electorate participating is small, or the total vote is small, random or near-random fluctuations take on a disproportionate significance. In engineering this is referred to as having a low signal-to-noise ratio. There's a lot of statistical noise in elections; candidates gain or lose votes based on random or ephemeral phenomena, such as ballot position or whether they have a name that sounds familiar. This noise plays a larger role when the election receives little notice. We end up with fifth-place finishers in an election that most people were barely aware was even taking place.

The one-office-at-a-time proposal is related. Some people will think "if I run for enough offices, or for the same office enough times, I'm sure to win something eventually". Althea Garrison proves this point. I think these are good proposals.

Mejia, St. Guillen, Arroyo. More new Candidates please!

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More new Candidates for Boston City Council please!... in addition to
Alejandra St. Guillen
Julia Mejia
Ricardo Arroyo

Even better, more Candidates advocating Language Justice for hard of hearing folks, for deaf folks, for all folks by opening the edited on site public funded Stenographic Record of Public Meetings of Boston City Council, more complete than Minutes, a more accurate Document than flawed inaccurate prepared off site video captions.

Name, Position .... Consecutive Terms in office .. Year Elected .. inauguration date
Mark Ciommo ...... City Council District 9 .... 6 .... 2007 .... 1/7/2008

Matt O'Malley ...... City Council District 6 .... 5 .... 2010 .... 11/30/2010

Frank Baker ......... City Council District 3 .... 4 .... 2011 .... 1/2/2012

Michael Flaherty .. City Council At Large .... 2 and 3 ....
                                          1999 and 2013 .... 1/3/2000 and 1/6/2014
Timothy Mccarthy, City Council District 5 .... 3 .... 2013 .... 1/6/2014
Michelle Wu ......... City Council At Large ..... 3 .... 2013 .... 1/6/2014
Josh Zakim .......... City Council District 8 .... 3 .... 2013 .... 1/6/2014

Andrea Campbell . City Council President District 4 .... 2 .... 2015 .... 1/4/2016
Annissa Essaibi George, City Council At Large .... 2 .... 2015 .... 1/4/2016

Lydia Edwards ..... City Council District 1 .... 1 .... 2017 .... 1/1/2018
Ed Flynn ............... City Council District 2 .... 1 .... 2017 .... 1/1/2018
Althea Garrison..... City Council At Large ..... 1 ..... 2019 .... 1/9/2019
Kim Janey ............ City Council District 7 .... 1 .... 2017 .... 1/1/2018

Would be better if sorted by office

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Greater public participation would happen if you provided a list of candidates/possible candidates sorted by which district/at large seat sought. Please provide a list sorted by which district/at large seat sought.