Councilors say they need more time: Vote to extend their terms from two to four years

The Boston City Council today approved a package of election-related changes that would include increasing council terms from two to four years starting with the 2021 election.

The council also voted to allow early voting for municipal elections and to bar candidates from running for more than one local office at a time.

All three measures need approval of Mayor Walsh, the state legislature and Gov. Baker to become law.

The council tabled a fourth measure, to change the way at-large council vacancies are filled. Currently, the person who finished fifth in the previous election automatically becomes an at-large councilor should one of them four at-large councilors resign or die; a proposal would have required a special election.

Proponents of longer council terms, who included Council President Andrea Campbell, said city business has become complex enough that councilors really need four years to try to fulfill their campaign promises. Also, the elimination of every-other-year elections would save money, they said.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) predicted longer terms would mean an increase in public participation - and the number of candidates - by eliminating the off-year elections, which traditionally draw little participation.

Councilors voted 11-2 for the measure. Councilors Michelle Wu (at large) and Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) cast the dissenting votes.

Wu said the measure would cut in half the number of opportunities for people to challenge sitting councilors, which she said would be a mistake for a body that is supposed to be so accountable to voters. Zakim said councilors deserve vigorous challenges when they make mistakes or move in directions their voters might not agree with. He also dismissed the cost issue, saying that while saving money is good, it shouldn't come at the expense of giving voters a choice.

Both Zakim and Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) said the council should look at "ranked choice voting," which Cambridge has long used and which would let voters rank candidates by preference in multi-candidate races.

Edwards said this could be a way to deal with the at-large issue, should that come up - instead of using first-past-the-gate voting, elections officials would consider the total number of seats to win a seat, then look at voter choices: Any candidate who got enough first-place votes would get a seat, but if not all did, voters' second, third and fourth-place votes would come into play.

However, Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester), said he would oppose any measure that would have changed the way Althea Garrison got on the council in January - by coming in fifth in 2017 and replacing Ayanna Pressley on her move to Washington. Baker said he could not support something that would be "a vote against my colleague, Althea Garrison."

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"bar candidates from running

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"bar candidates from running for more than one local office at a time."

All this does is make it harder for a councilor to run for mayor.

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Voting closed 13

A better Map for Redistricting. NAMES of Bordering Streets

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For Redistricting, require publication online of a better Map more clearly delineating the NAMES of Bordering Streets between adjacent neighboring Districts particularly split Bordering Streets, for folks nearby Bordering Streets of Districts, for all

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Voting closed 3

I'm not actually opposed to

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I'm not actually opposed to this, but does it bother anyone else that they can vote to extend their own terms in office? I feel like that's something that only voters should be able to approve (i.e. it should have to be via referendum). This just doesn't seem very democratic.

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Voting closed 35

Each city and town is

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Each city and town is chartered by the state. The city is petitioning the state to change it's charter. Elected state officials and the Governor have to approve it. It's not quite as simple as the council extending their terms on a whim.

What was undemocratic was 25 years ago when the voters in the Commonwealth approved term limits, and then the SJC struck it down.

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Voting closed 4

I understand that. But that's

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I understand that. But that's still one elected official approving another elected official's decision to extend their term lengths. That isn't really any more democratic.

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Voting closed 2

Here's an intersesting hook

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The state rep and state senator who represent Great Barrington get to vote on this, which means by extension the voters of Great Barrington have a say in this.

One would think that if the Boston delegation doesn't like this, it won't even make it to a vote. Of course, if the mayor doesn't agree, it doesn't even get to Beacon Hill.

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Voting closed 2

It does bother me

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And I will be contacting my state rep and state senator, who run for re-election every two years, to register my feelings on this.

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Voting closed 3

If this helps curtail NIMBY

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If this helps curtail NIMBY influence over basically everything, I'm all for it. Not sure it actually will but worth finding out.

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Voting closed 5

All three measures need

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All three measures need approval of Mayor Walsh, the state legislature and Gov. Baker to become law.

It'd be nice if these changes required the approval of Boston voters.

I don't like the notion of changing to longer terms.

The rationale of "councilors really need four years to try to fulfill their campaign promises"? Why - so they can spend two years not trying and then two years trying? It's too much of a reminder that too many in such jobs do their jobs with a view to getting re-elected, in fact viewing their job as getting re-elected - instead of simply doing a good job

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Voting closed 13

Councilors really need four years?????

Boston has a strong mayor system. The City Council's authority is extremely limited and if anyone thinks the issues they address are so complex that they need four years to do so, well I have this old bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

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Voting closed 5

4 consecutive Term Limit for City Council, more accountable!

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4 consecutive Term Limit for Boston City Council, a more accountable City Council !

Compare other City Councils, Common Councils, Boards of Alderpersons ("Board of Aldermen"), Boards of Selectpersons ("Board of Selectmen"), Town Meetings around North America.

"Prior to 1909, Boston's legislative body consisted of an eight-member Board of Aldermen and a Common Council made up of three representatives from each of the 25 wards in the city" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_City_Council#History

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
Kim Janey ............ City Council District 7 .... 1 .... 2017 .... 1/1/2018
Althea Garrison..... City Council At Large ..... 1 ..... 2019 .... 1/9/2019

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Voting closed 3

Lydia Edwards should try to

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Lydia Edwards should try to run for any seat in Cambridge, then she could see what real exclusion is about.

Andrea wants more Andrea time for Andrea, she is an empty egoist box.

Wu is the best.

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Voting closed 3

Save money by moving elections to even years

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This proposal is BS - every legislature position is up for two year terms. The council needs to be held to this routine accountability from the voters. Save money by moving city elections to even years, when there are already elections for US rep, State rep, and now City Councilors. The off year elections are a hack job. There are plenty in there with their wacky ideas that I would love to vote out.

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Voting closed 3