At-large hopefuls join council incumbents in growing ’19 field

There is no presidential election in 2019, nor races for governor, mayors, or state and federal offices. The only game in Boston is the upcoming city council campaign, with all existing at-large incumbents — minus exiting Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley—and five potential at-large candidates already preparing for a run.

Councillors at-large Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, and Michelle Wu are all seeking re-election, they say.

A pre-holiday boost of interest in the race started after Pressley’s decisive primary defeat of Congressman Michael Capuano in the September primary. With Pressley moving onto the federal stage, her seat will be filled for the remainder of the term by 2016 fifth-place-finisher Althea Garrison. It is not yet clear if Garrison— who did not respond to inquiries for this article— will be a candidate for the next council term.

One candidate — Amanda Smart of Brighton— opened an account with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance back in January. A UMass Boston graduate with a MS in Human Services, Smart notes her history of recovering from a traumatic brain injury she sustained as a teenager and her decade of work with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and advocacy with the disability community on her campaign website.

She has been joined in recent months by four other potential candidates.

Julia Mejia, who was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Dorchester when she was five, is the founder of the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network. She cites more than two decades in marketing, grassroots organizing, and community outreach and engagement. She filed with OCPF in September, after the primary.

In November, the pack increased to include David Halbert, of Dorchester, the deputy director of Community Affairs at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. Halbert cites work for elected officials, including former City Councillors Sam Yoon and John Tobin and Gov. Deval Patrick. He is the director and a principal agent in founding the “People of Color in Criminal Justice Conference,” according to his website.

Alejandra St. Guillen, of West Roxbury, announced her intent to run last week. St. Guillen said she hoped to “address growing inequalities, from income to public safety to education.” She is currently the director of Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, and was previously executive director of ¿Oiste?, a statewide Latino civic and political organization.

Boston Public Schools para-educator Taushawn Tinsley, of Dorchester, rounds out the at-large field for now. Tinsley works at the Taylor Elementary School on Morton Street and was a regional planner in Boston with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management. He also previously worked with the committee to elect Mayor Marc McGovern in Cambridge.

A few district councillors may see opponents as well. Councillor Tim McCarthy, whose District 5 covers parts of Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roslindale, is being challenged by Yves Mary Jean, who lists his work experience as a writer/poet with the European Parliament. Posts on social media show him supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s re-election campaign and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez.

“I can’t wait! I can’t wait!” the Roslindale resident wrote on Facebook on Dec. 6, “To build relationships with the mayor, to build relationships with colleagues on the Council, with everybody to adhere to the needs of the District 5 and the City of Boston.”

Lee Nave, Jr. has filed with OCPF to run against Mark Ciommo in District 9, representing Allston/Brighton. Hélène Vincent is running against Councillor Josh Zakim in District 8, which includes the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway–Kenmore, Mission Hill, and the West End.
The at-large field is expected to widen considerably as the campaign season gets going.

Jennifer Smith can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter @JennDotSmith.

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