Everything You Need to Know Before Boston’s Preliminary Elections

Boston - Yang Ren, 70, gives instructions to voters at the polling station at Boston Public Library, Boston, Mass. Ren worked since 8 a.m., and it’s his first time helping on Election Day. Xue Yujie/ BU News Service

Laura Al Bast
BU News Service

Fall has come upon us bringing with it odd weather, the beginning of a school year, and democracy; ‘tis the season to choose leadership.

The Boston municipal elections are being held this year to elect – or re-elect, a mayor and members of the city council. Before heading over to the polls, Boston residents may want to know how the city’s political system actually works.

What is the system?

Boston is governed by a mayor-council government, where the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive overseeing such matters as proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental director’s and tending to the city’s day-to-day operations. The mayor serves for a four year term.

The city council represents the legislative branch of the city municipality. The city council is comprised of 13 members, nine of whom are elected by the city’s nine districts – each representing their own district, while four are elected at-large – representing the whole city. They are primarily responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances. They hold council meetings open to the public constituents to attend. The city council serves for a two year term.

Elections 101

The Municipal elections begin with the preliminary on Sept. 26. Polls open at 7:00 a.m., when constituents will be voting to advance two mayoral candidates and representatives for districts 1 (Charlestown, East Boston, North End), 2 (Downtown, South Boston, South End) , 7 (Roxbury), and 9 (Allston, Brighton).  

For the preliminary elections to take place, a minimum number of required candidates needs to be met, so no preliminary elections will take place for the remaining districts and for the four at-large city council seats where incumbent councilors are running against one challenger each.

Candidates chosen in the preliminary elections will advance to the general elections taking place on Nov. 7.

Voters are expected to have already registered to vote for the preliminary elections at least 20 days prior to election date. Eligibility to register or pre-register applies to those who are U.S. citizens, 16 years old – the legal age to vote is 18 –  and not currently incarcerated by reason of a felony conviction.

How do I find out where I’m registered?

Residents who are not sure of their voter registrations status or polling location can check here.

Who’s running for what?

City Mayor

  • Marty Walsh
  • Tito Jackson
  • Joseph A. Wiley
  • Robert Cappucci

District 1

  • Margaret M. Farmer
  • Stephen Passacantilli
  • Lydia Marie Edwards

District 2

  • Peter A. Lin-Marcus
  • Kora R. Vakil
  • Corey G. Dinopoulos
  • Michael S. Kelley
  • Edward M. Flynn
  • Joseph F. Kebartas
  • Erica J. Tritta

District 7

  • Roy Owens
  • Deeqo M. Jibril
  • Angelina Magdalena Camacho
  • Brian S. Keith
  • Joao Gomes Depina
  • Domonique A. Williams
  • Hassan A. Williams
  • Rufus J. Faulk
  • Steven A. Wise
  • Jose Lopez
  • Kim Janey
  • Charles Clemons Muhammad
  • Carlos Tony Henriquez


District 9 

  • Brandon David Bowser
  • Alexander Bernhard Golonka
  • Mark S. Ciommo

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