The Boston City Council will discuss a Home Rule Petition during a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. that, if approved, could set aside a special election that would be triggered if Mayor Martin Walsh vacates his seat before March 5.
The petition, put forth by District 5 Councillor Ricardo Arroyo on Jan. 13, requires a hearing before it can be advanced to a vote. The measure will also need the support of Walsh, the Legislature, and Gov. Baker, who has indicated he would sign such a bill if it was sent to him.
District 1 Councillor Lydia Edwards, who chairs council's Government Operations Committee, released a statement Friday announcing that she scheduled the hearing.
“As chair of the committee that will be hearing this proposal, it is my responsibility to move it forward deliberately and in a way that can’t be questioned later. How we plan and conduct this hearing is as important as what we will be discussing during the hearing itself. My goal has always been to have a hearing, review this proposal and have a finished product ready for a council vote in a timely manner,” she wrote.
“Before scheduling the hearing, I needed to research our state’s conflict of interest laws so that I, as chair, and my colleagues were all clear on any issues with potential conflicts. I have sought guidance from the City Council’s staff attorney, the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission and the city’s corporation counsel. I also plan to meet with the Secretary of State’s office. I look forward to holding an ethical and transparent hearing on Tuesday at 3 p.m.”
While the petition has elicited some criticism, several of Arroyo's colleagues on the council supported it. Council President Kim Janey, who will become acting mayor when Walsh resigns, supports Arroyo’s petition because, she said, “special elections historically disenfranchised communities of color and low-income communities.”
Councillor Michelle Wu, who is actively running for mayor, has come out in favor of Arroyo’s petition as well.
Councillor Julia Mejia, at-large member from Dorchester, also said last week that she "wholeheartedly" supports the measure.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley also supports the push to skip a special election for a successor to Walsh, President Biden’s Secretary of Labor-designate, and stick with regularly scheduled elections later this year.
“I think Lawrence has given us a great model to replicate,” said Pressley in an interview with the Reporter on Thursday, referring to that city’s petition to the Legislature to override a special election to replace Mayor Dan Rivera, who resigned this month to take a new role as president and CEO of Mass Development.
“They did that recognizing that it’s often a way of disenfranchising many voters. I certainly ran a campaign that was committed to and successful in expanding the electorate.”