Nomination process kicks off a busy Council campaign

Boston’s election season officially kicked off this week when the city began accepting applications on Wednesday for nomination papers for the only elected seats on the ballot: City Council.

The preliminary election is scheduled for Sept. 24 and the general election on Nov. 5., and the campaign is shaping up to be a competitive year, with upwards of a dozen candidates so far seeking a seat on the city’s legislative body.

Three sitting councillors have already announced they will not be seeking re-election: District 5’s Tim McCarthy, who represents Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roslindale; District 8’s Josh Zakim, who represents Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Mission Hill and Bay Village; and District 9’s Mark Ciommo, who represents Allston-Brighton.

Each has left a seat open for a handful of hopeful successors from government and the private sector. In the District 5 race, Ricardo Arroyo, who was among the first to announce his intentions to run, doing so before McCarthy bowed out, has been endorsed by State Rep. Russell Holmes. He sits on a campaign account of over $56,000, according to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). Jean-Claude Sanon is running for the seat a third time, with the candidate roster so far filled out by Mimi Turchinetz, the activist city worker; Maria Esdale Farrell, McCarthy’s former legislative aide; the poet Yves Mary Jean, and City Hall staffer Alkia Mimi Powell.

City Councillor At-Large Althea Garrison automatically filled the vacancy left by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley in January, but a crowded field is already lining up to run for that at-large seat in the Fall. Garrison and three incumbent at-large councillors— Annissa Essaibi-George, Michael Flaherty, and Michelle Wu— are all expected to seek re-election this year.

Flaherty has $349,421 in his campaign account, Wu has $289,869, Essaibi-George has $83,819, and Garrison has reported no funds at all through this week, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).

Among the likely challengers seeking to capture one of the four at-large slots, Alejandra St. Guillen, former director of Boston’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, leads the pack in campaign cash, with more than $40,000 in her account as of April 1, according to OCPF filings.

Julia Mejia, of Dorchester, founder and director of the Collaborative Parent Leadership Network (CPLAN), and David Halbert, of Mattapan, the deputy director of community affairs at the Middlesex County Sheriff’s office, are the next most flush with cash, at $16,400 and $15,600, respectively.

Candidates can apply for nomination papers to run for municipal office through May 13. Nomination petition forms are distributed starting April 30, when candidates will start filling their forms with signatures.

At-Large candidates need to collect 1,500 certified signatures from registered voters to appear on the preliminary ballot. Most district council races need 200 certified signatures, but the numbers are 195 in District 7, 130 in District 8, and 164 in District 9.

The signature bar winnows the field and candidates have to submit their papers to the Elections Department for certification by May 21. Those who meet the certification barrier make the ballot in September.