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There's an undeniable tendency in the Boston-area media to focus a bit too much on city politics in Boston proper while not paying quite enough attention to other communities. (Here, I raise my own hand in guilty acknowledgment.) Emphasizing Boston is tempting for several reasons. When it comes to policy, Boston sets the agenda for the region. Many of us who live elsewhere work in the city and have an investment in how it's run. And there's an abundance of fascinating subplots unfolding there right now, from proxy political fights between former Mayor Marty Walsh and current Mayor Michelle Wu to an at-large race that could be a harbinger of the next mayoral contest.
But there are another 54 cities and towns with elections on Nov. 7, and every contest is a chance to take the pulse on what voters are putting on the top of their priorities list. In Brockton, for example, incumbent Mayor Robert Sullivan is facing a challenge from Fred Fontaine, who's seeking to become the first Black mayor of a city where Black residents now outnumber every other group. Fontaine has previously fallen short in bids for city council and state rep. In this contest, he's pitching himself as the spiritual heir to former Mayor Bill Carpenter, who passed away while in office in 2019, and suggesting the city has gone backwards under Sullivan's watch. The outcome will be — among other things — a test of whether Brockton's shifting demographics portend an accompanying shift in political power.
In Revere, Acting Mayor Patrick Keefe is squaring off against former Mayor Dan Rizzo, whose candidacy is partly predicated on the idea that far many new housing units are being built in that city. If elected, Rizzo says, he'd immediately request a two-year moratorium on new apartments. That critique makes Revere's mayoral contest a case study in how the politics of aggressive housing construction can play out — a topic of interest to voters across the state, as Gov. Maura Healey pushes a new $4-billion housing plan aimed at ramping up construction.
The Revere mayoral contest is one of several races in which Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll have taken an active rooting interest, backing Keefe. As Politico's Lisa Kashinsky noted after September's preliminary elections, the final results in communities from Fall River to Haverhill to Gardner (and a bunch of other places) will, collectively, give us a sense of just how much muscle the Healey administration has when it comes to putting its preferred governing partners into office. Whatever the answer, expect it to elicit comparisons to former Gov. Charlie Baker, who made his own efforts to shape the state's political landscape on the local level during his time in office.
The politics of race and ethnicity are also at play in Revere's City Council contest. While Revere is an increasingly diverse city, with (among other things) a huge Latino population and a growing Moroccan community, the City Council is currently all white. But two at-large candidates, Juan Pablo Jaramillo (who was born in Colombia) and Alexander Rhalimi (who was born in Morocco), are hoping to change that.
In two other cities, the election will test how cities respond to alleged or established bad behavior by public officials. In Cambridge, where the mayor is drawn from the ranks of the City Council and elected by her colleagues, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is seeking re-election on the heels of a Boston Globe story where former staffers accused her of creating a toxic work environment. Siddiqui, a Pakistani immigrant and progressive, told the Globe that while her standards are high, she strives to treat everyone with respect; she also suggested the allegations against her are politically motivated.
And then there's Everett, where a protracted reckoning with the politics of race included the 2022 resignation of then-City Councilor Anthony DiPierro for sharing a racist meme and making racist comments. Now, DiPierro is seeking reelection, saying that while he's made mistakes in the past, he's become a better person. Here, too the outcome will be a test of how race and politics intersect in an increasingly diverse community — as well as a test of voters' willingness, or lack thereof, to forgive especially unpleasant transgressions.
We don’t put out candidate endorsements here at GBH, but there’s something we do endorse: voting. It’s an “off-year” without any presidential or Congressional races drawing voters to the ballot box — that means turnout is likely to be extremely low. Read up on the candidates in your city and make time to vote next Tuesday (or now, if you can vote early or by mail). Who knows, it could be another year where one vote decides who gets into office.
Get the deets on your local races
Every voter in Boston has elections coming up next Tuesday.
City Council seats are up for grabs. Eight candidates are running for the four at-large seats, you can get their opinions on the hottest-button issues facing the council right now in our at-large questionnaire. (And if you want more on these at-large races, tune in to Talking Politics Friday night at 7 p.m. to hear Adam Reilly break it down with a panel of experts.)
Many district-level seats are also contested, with incumbents stepping down or ousted in Districts 3, 5 and 6. Watch interviews with each candidate from those districts here.
Not sure what your district is? Use this tool from the city to find out. Tip: Make sure to use the “Future City Council Representation” map to get the right information since your district may have changed.
New England’s 2nd largest city has its own heated races.
Worcester’s facing an “inflection point,” in the words of City Councilor Khrystian King. The election is the first in more than two decades that all 11 City Council seats — including mayor — have multiple candidates running. Whether moderates are fending off their progressive challengers won’t be clear until votes are counted — there are no electoral polls in Worcester. Read up on the city’s changing political climate.
Mayor Joseph Petty is facing quite a few challengers this year. Watch GBH’s mayoral debate with all five candidates, or read up on the highlights.
And about those 53 other cities and towns ...
Not sure if there's an election where you live? Check out this list from the secretary of state’s office.
There are plenty of races that we don’t have the staff to cover, but your local newsroom probably does. Look for traditional and less media you can trust, from the Patriot Ledger to the Berkshire Eagle to the New Bedford Light.