With education funding in flux, the MBTA crumbling and housing prices climbing, Bostonians go to the polls Tuesday to narrow down preliminary fields of candidates before November's municipal general election for key spots on the city council.

The political assent of Rep. Ayanna Pressley has had a twofold effect on this election cycle: reinvigorating interest in the political possibilities of the four citywide legislative positions and leaving Pressley's former slot on the council vulnerable to a new challenger.


That seat is occupied by Councilor Althea Garrison, who was elevated to the council when Pressley departed, by way of her distant fifth place finish two years ago with 18,253 votes. The 78-year-old former perennial candidate is the council's most conservative member and proudly touts her support of President Donald Trump, two factors painting a target on her back for progressive candidates looking to emulate Pressley's assertive style.

Conservative or not, Garrison's platform resembles the way most district and at-large candidates are running this year, with a focus on housing affordability, school funding and servicing the state-operated MBTA.

Councilor Michelle Wu received more votes than Pressley in 2017, taking in 65,040 votes to Pressley's 57,520. Since topping the ticket two years ago, there's been speculation that Wu may be building a base of support to challenge Mayor Marty Walsh in 2021 for the city's top job.

South Boston At-Large Councilor Michael Flaherty won 51,673 votes two years ago, coming in third. Flaherty has emphasized his support for LGBTQ rights and youth intervention this time around, on top of the enduring issues of housing, education and transportation.

Dorchester At-Large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George was the fourth-place finisher in 2017 with 45,564 votes. Essaibi-George is touting her responsiveness to constituents over her two terms in office as well as her experience as a small business owner and former public school teacher.

Domingos DaRosa, Mattapan's William King, Herb Lozano, and Julia Mejia of Dorchester are also on the ballot for the At-Large race.

Michel Denis is an immigrant from Haiti living in Hyde Park.

Essaibi-George will have competition from another BPS teacher, challenger Erin Murphy, who is also from Dorchester.

Roslindale activist Priscilla Flint-Banks has leveraged a career in banking into advocacy for housing affordability and foreclosure reform.

West Roxbury's Alejandra St. Guillen is the former director of City Hall's immigrant advancement program and a former teacher.

Dorchester's David Halbert served as deputy director of community affairs for Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.

West Roxbury attorney Martin Keogh is telling voters he'll vote against city policies to increase the cost of parking passes and charge for plastic shopping bags.

District 5

This year in Boston, the "bellwether" race to look at is District 5, the seat being given up by Hyde Park's Timothy McCarthy. The district spans Hyde Park, Readville and Roslindale to parts of Mattapan and has seen ethnic and demographic shifts that have attracted a diverse crowd looking to replace McCarthy.

Read more: Boston’s Changing Complexion Shapes The District 5 City Council Primary

Public defender Ricardo Arroyo is the son of Suffolk County Register of Probate Felix Arroyo Sr. and the brother of former At-Large Councilor Felix Arroyo Jr. The public defender has soaked up endorsements from newspapers like the Bay State Banner and The Boston Globe and has a campaign war chest that outclasses his opponents.

Maria Esdale-Farrell has worked as an education aide to McCarthy and has the incumbent's support.

Elementary school teacher Cecily Graham resides in Hyde Park and comes from a Caribbean-American family.

Poet Yves Mary Jean is self-funding a campaign to bring more "progressive leadership" to the council.

Also on the ballot is Justin Murad, a paralegal who wants to focus on improving MBTA service, including the buses that serve the neighborhood.

Alkia Powell from Hyde Park worked for City Hall's Office of Economic Development before committing to her campaign full time.

Immigrant advocate Jean-Claude Sanon, a Haitian immigrant, has run unsuccessfully for the seat in the past and intends to be a voice for the immigrant community on the council. He was runner up to McCarthy the last time the seat was open in 2013.

Attorney Mimi Turchinetz works in the mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment and wants more community control over development.

District 8

Voters in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway and parts of Allston will select candidates to compete in November to replace the departing Councilor Josh Zakim. One of Boston's wealthiest districts, the area encompasses everything from brownstone mansions to numerous college dormitories and hospital facilities.

Housing advocate Kenzie Bok has made housing affordability a campaign cornerstone.

Video production executive Kristen Mobilia wants to bring more neighborhood advocates and small businesses to the table at City Hall.

West End Attorney Montez David Haywood wants more community programming for downtown areas.

As the former chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, attorney Jennifer Nassour, 47, stands out a bit in the crowd of Democrats with a message of fiscal responsibility alongside a social justice platform.

Fenway's Helene Vincent is the former research and academic partnerships director at education company EF Education First.

District 7

In a less-watched race, incumbent District 7 Councilor Kim Janey faces Roy Owens and Valerie Hope Rust for the seat she's held since 2018.

District 9

Voters in Allston-Brighton will be charged with winnowing the field to replace long-time Councilor Mark Ciommo, who's retiring. The combined neighborhood faces challenges from development and housing costs, as well as the expanding college campuses on its doorstep that supply the area with its abundance of college students and young professionals. The seven candidates have focused on housing issues and ways to decrease traffic congestion.

Jonathan Allen is an executive at the Leadership Brainery, a diversity development program for college students.

Boston Public Schools teacher Brandon David Bowser wants to be a voice to check development and the neighborhood's collection of land-owning universities like Harvard.

Physical therapist Liz Breadon wants more oversight of development in the neighborhood.

Brighton's Craig Cashman, 36, works at the State House for Brighton Rep. Michael Moran.

Daniel Daly is a union electrician.

Lee Nave Jr., of Brighton, is a community organizer and lists housing prices and transportation as priorities.

Amanda Gail Smart is a brain injury consultant.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the year of Boston's next mayoral race. That race will take place in 2021.