St. Guillen will temporarily take Wu’s at-large council seat

Alejandra St. Guillen (left) on the campaign trail in 2019, with Erin Murphy. Yukun Zhang photo

Alejandra St. Guillen, who was one vote shy of becoming an at-large city councillor in 2019, is set to fill Michelle Wu’s seat when the mayor-elect resigns in the next few days.

If a vacancy occurs among the four at-large city council seats, the runner-up from the last election can slide into the open job, meaning St. Guillen will serve as a city councillor through the end of the year.

St. Guillen, a West Roxbury resident, was the runner-up in the 2019 election, just one vote behind Julia Mejia. In 2020, then-mayor Marty Walsh appointed her to the city’s cannabis board, which reviews applicants for marijuana licenses. She said she’ll be stepping down from the board, since city employees cannot draw two salaries.

GBH News first reported St. Guillen’s decision to take the time-limited at-large job.

While the logistics of her swearing-in are still being worked out, her first council meeting will likely be on Dec. 1. Wu will take the mayoral oath of office on Nov. 16.

“I thought long and hard about what can someone do in that period of time,” St. Guillen, 44, told the Reporter, referring to the shortness of her expected tenure. “I talked to some close advisers. I’m just looking forward to supporting fellow councillors and the work they’ve been doing on equity in exam schools and removing police officers from schools.”

The time limit was “my biggest concern” when weighing the move, she added. “I can’t do in two months what I wanted to do in two years, but I can push the issues that are important for me and I can use the bully pulpit to advocate.”

If St. Guillen had decided against this move, the seat would have gone next week to Erin Murphy, the 51-year-old Dorchester native who trailed St. Guillen in the 2019 election and won the fourth at-large seat in this year’s election, behind incumbents Mejia and Michael Flaherty and newcomer Ruthzee Louijeune.

Until St. Guillen’s announcement on Tuesday, Murphy had been preparing to get an early start at City Hall. She met with several councillors last week and has other sit-downs planned. Last week she also started a “thank you” tour, with a visit to Greenhills Irish Bakery and stops in Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Brighton.

David Halbert, a Dorchester resident and a former City Hall aide who finished in fifth place behind Murphy by just 325 votes, called her the day after the Nov. 2 election to congratulate her. He opted against a recount.

“While this is not the result we were hoping for,” he said, “I am incredibly proud of the campaign we ran and am thankful for the invaluable support of my family, my campaign team, and all of the volunteers who helped move our campaign forward every day, having the important discussions with voters.”

Jockeying for Council president is underway

With the end of election season for mayor and other municipal candidates, talk is already turning to who will be the next City Council president in January.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey will return to the position after Mayor-elect Wu takes the oath of office next week. The charter calls for the City Council president to step in as the city’s chief executive when the mayor — in this year’s case, Marty Walsh — leaves office.

But Janey did not run for reelection to her District 7 City Council seat, and Tania Anderson, who will become the council’s first Muslim and first African immigrant, won the Nov. 2 election to replace her, beating out perennial candidate Roy Owens.

Five new councillors are joining the13-member body: Anderson, Louijeune, and Murphy, as well as District 4’s Brian Worrell and District 6’s Kendra Hicks. The number of new councillors adds to the dynamics of the behind-the-scenes jockeying for the presidency, with their cell phones likely to be ringing in the weeks ahead as prospective presidents try to get their votes.

Sources say the names of Councillors Kenzie Bok and Ricardo Arroyo are in the mix for the job, as is Councillor Ed Flynn’s. The president gets a gavel, funds for a bigger staff, and a larger office.

Arroyo, who easily won reelection with 75 percent of the vote, confirmed he is a candidate. “I think they’ve been productive,” he said of his discussions. “Obviously all three of us have qualities that are strong qualities for this role.”

The others were not immediately available for comment.

Hunt plans fundraiser at Dorchester Brewing

State Rep. Dan Hunt, who is up for reelection next year, is planning a fundraiser at Dorchester Brewing Co. The event is set for Wed., Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. 

In an email to supporters, he encouraged people to join him for a “little friendship, cheer and fun.” Beer from DBC and other local breweries, with food from M&M BBQ, will be available.

Hunt, who was elected in 2014 in a special election to succeed Marty Walsh, previously served as a Department of Conservation and Recreation official and State House aide.

He is the chairman of the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight and a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, which is tasked with redrawing political boundaries after every US Census.

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