Council At-Large Election Too Close to Call on Final Seat: Widely Discussed Campaign Ended in No-Show at the Polls

The City Election featured a somewhat slow day of voting for many areas, but any excitement absent during the day was made up for at midnight – when the final spot on the at-large ballot became contested between candidates Julia Mejia of Dorchester and Alejandra St. Guillen of West Roxbury.

The candidates were separated by only 10 votes at the end of the night, with Mejia on top and St. Guillen calling for a recount.

“With the margins so narrow, we believe it is our duty to continue in this election,” said St. Guillen on Wednesday. “We are proud of the campaign we fought and believe that to build on our message…it is our duty to request a full recount. There may be people who voted an absentee ballot or went to the polls and cast a provisional ballot, and we want to make sure their vote is counted. That’s just the benchmark of our democracy. So, we’re prepared to move forward with a full recount once the full numbers are reported.”

The excitement slowed up the release of ward and precinct results from the City’s Election Department, with them being released late on Wednesday.

Citywide, Councilor Michelle Wu topped the ticket with 41,616 votes. With a strong campaign, Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George claimed second place for the first time in her career, garnering 34,054 votes. Councilor Michael Flaherty had a solid third place finish with 33,242 votes.

The fourth place spot was contested, with Mejia having 22,464 votes and St. Guillen at 22,454 votes.

Incumbent Althea Garrison fell to seventh place.

Erin Murphy, finished sixth citywide with 16,843 votes.

One hallmark of the City Election – though it was a hot item in the neighborhoods for months – was the lack of interest by the electorate. Citywide, only 16.5 percent of the voters came out, with highpoints in some precincts of 44 percent and lowpoints of 3 percent.

In the South End, which had made a particular effort for Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, the turnout was below even the low average.

The McKinley School precincts (4-1 and 4-3) logged only 17 percent turnout, and 3-7 – a normally packed precinct voting out of Cathedral High – showed a meager 13 percent turnout. There, only 50 ballots were cast out of 3,832 registered voters. That was a precinct in 2017 where more than 1,100 votes were cast in the Flynn-Kelley race.

In Worcester Square, where many voters have called on politicians to help them with the opiate epidemic, two of their precincts (8-2 and 8-3) came in at 10 percent turnout, with the other (9-1) logging 15 percent.

Needless to say, those who voted did give a push to Essaibi-George, who followed Wu in almost every South End precinct this time.

In the Ward races, District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn and was unopposed and cruised to victory on the night with 6,362 votes.

District 7 Councilor Kim Janey faced perennial Candidate Roy Owens, beating him 3,847 votes to 1,263 votes.

In a bit of a surprising move, a non-binding ballot question asked voters citywide if they wanted to change the name of Dudley Square in Roxbury to the name Nubian Square. The move had been made due to the Colonial Gov. Dudley having been involved in the slave trade, and the fact that the Square is the hub of the African American community.

However, voters rejected the idea soundly, voting against the change 28,763 to 24,207.

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