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Down to the wire in the mayor’s race

Next Tuesday’s election to choose the two finalists for mayor of Boston – and eight finalists for City Council-at-Large – is likely to be one to remember. At this writing, five days ahead of the balloting, there is no clear consensus on the likely outcome. Polls indicate that as much as one-third of the electorate remains undecided at this late stage. To call the state of the mayor’s race “fluid” would be an understatement.

The Reporter is not making an endorsement in this preliminary election, in part because the field of candidates includes several standout choices – each of whom would bring expertise and experience to the mayor’s job.

Which speaks to the high-caliber of this field of candidates while reminding us just how intimate and personal such a crowded mayor’s race will be for so many voters, especially for those of us who live in Boston’s largest neighborhood.

For starters, six of the twelve candidates on Tuesday’s ballot live in our neighborhood. They are our neighbors, friends, coaches, former classmates, and, in several cases, former or current elected representatives or city councillors. Most of the other six candidates who hail from other neighborhoods are also well known in our community and are, on the whole, well respected.

One longtime Dorchester political activist told us this week that she’d committed to one candidate early on, and that she intended to stick with that right through the preliminary. “But what will I do when I get that ballot in my hand?” she asked. “Honestly, I really couldn’t say.”

Given the intimate nature of the contest locally, we think most people will make their call based on the issues most important to them right now. Is it important to the voter that a person of color win the seat for the first time? Or a woman? Do they want someone who is a seasoned political hand, or a relative newcomer? Is it more pressing in this cycle that the proposed casino in East Boston be blocked or advanced? Is the pace of reforms in city’s schools their chief concern? Or is it public safety or extending employment opportunities to a broader constituency? Do they want to capitalize on the promise of the Fairmount Line and prioritize redevelopment targets along the right of way? Or do they think city government should put more energy into downtown projects first?

These are some of the questions that people from all Boston neighborhoods will struggle with through the weekend and, in some cases, right into Tuesday’s polling stations. It’s a momentous choice, and given the range and depth of most of the 12 candidates, it’s hardly a surprise that many of us remain undecided.

But decide we must. In August, we invited all of the candidates to submit answers to a survey prepared by Reporter editors. Many of the questions have specific relevance to people who live locally – as distinct from other citywide questionnaires. The answers from the ten candidates who answered the survey— Felix Arroyo, John Barros, Dan Conley, John Connolly, Rob Consalvo, Charlotte Golar Richie, Michael Ross, Bill Walczak, Marty Walsh, and Charles Yancey— have been posted on our website for your review.

Good luck to all the candidates, and to the voters.