What to know about Boston’s at-large City Council candidates


Boston voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote for new at-large City Council candidates.

Isabella Ratto, news correspondent

This Tuesday, Nov. 2, marks the end of the at-large Boston City Council race. There are four seats available in the at-large council with eight candidates running, narrowed down from the 17 original hopefuls in the Sept. 14 preliminary election. 

All information, unless otherwise specified, comes from the candidate’s campaign website.

Michael Flaherty

Michael Flaherty is one of these eight and aiming for reelection. He received 15% of votes in the September preliminary election, the most of any candidate. Flaherty has served on the council since 2013 and previously served from 2000 to 2008. 

During his first tenure, he spent five years as Council President. 

In education, Flaherty is focused on leadership reform within individual schools. Additionally, he supports offering an optional 13th-year extension program for high schoolers in Boston, aimed at better preparing students for the future through easy access to college credit opportunities and internships. 

Another priority for Flaherty is the preservation of Boston’s historic buildings and landmarks. He intends to pass legislation to protect these sites from development. His approach to crime, which is a popular one among the at-large candidates, is centered around mental health and addiction treatment. 

Julia Mejia

With 14.1% of votes in September, Julia Mejia came in second. She is also a veteran council member, who became the first Afro-Latina individual on the council in 2018. 

Mejia focuses on minority citizens, working to ensure they are supported with living wages, homeownership opportunities and a voice in government. In her time as an at-large council member, Mejia has made the transparency of the city’s government a top priority, working to foster civic participation. She has also increased accessibility to the government for many of Boston’s citizens by advocating for multilingual transcripts of city council meetings. 

When it comes to education, Mejia views reforming school committees as the most effective means of encouraging familial involvement. She, as well as many other candidates, proposes an entirely elected public school committee that will address the issues families find most important.

Althea Garrison

Althea Garrison is the final candidate with prior experience serving on the at-large Boston City Council, first winning her seat in 2019. Garrison received 6.1% of votes on Sep. 14. 

Outside of the council, she has other experience in politics, serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives between 1993 and 1995. During her time as a Boston city councilor, Garrison has been particularly focused on affordable housing, support for senior citizens, homeless outreach and public transit expansion to decrease congestion and help the environment. 

Ruthzee Louijeune

Ruthzee Louijeune would be new to the at-large council if elected. She received 12.2% of preliminary votes and is no stranger to politics, serving on two of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns as Senior Counsel. 

One of her main goals in education is increased investment in vocational options for students. She is also committed to the implementation of consistent support systems, such as trained mental health professionals, across Boston’s public schools. Additionally, Louijeune recognizes a disparity in the number of minority and female business owners in the city. She is determined to make the pathway to entrepreneurship easier, especially for members of these groups. 

Louijeune advocates for a cheaper — and eventually free — public transit system as part of her vision for creating a greener Boston. This pricing change is aimed at reducing the city’s substantial transportation emissions. The protection of Boston’s canopy through the planning and protection of trees city-wide is another climate-centric policy Louijeune intends to enact. 

Erin Murphy

With 8.3% of September votes, Erin Murphy is another new face in Boston’s political scene, though she’s no stranger to the city. Murphy has spent the last 22 years working as a Boston public school teacher and, as a result, has a lot of ideas about reform to these institutions. 

Murphy, like several other candidates, sees the value in expanding vocational programs and also advocates for increased after-school offerings. She proposes mandatory trauma training for the faculty and staff of Boston Public Schools. Murphy has also expressed a commitment to support disabled students to help ensure that public education is a viable option for everyone.  

She also prioritizes increased focus on Boston’s population struggling with mental health or addiction, better management of affordable housing developments and the implementation of community-based units backed by the Boston Police Department in various neighborhoods.

Carla Monteiro

Candidate Carla Monteiro, who received 6.9% of votes in the preliminary election, hopes to use her platform, if elected, to help increase homeownership across the city. This includes rent stabilization, better monitoring of affordable housing construction, and government-run programs for those who need help maintaining homeownership. 

She, like some other candidates, recognizes the value in placing trained mental health professionals inside of schools. Monteiro would also like to move toward a fully elected school committee as well as multilingual options for non-English speaking students and their families. Her approach to public safety is highly preventative in its focus on untreated mental health disorders and addiction. 

Monterio also sees the necessity of reform in the city’s climate justice strategy. She proposes the negotiation of a Boston Green New Deal that would put in place citywide changes. 

David Halbert

While he has never held an at-large city council position before, David Halbert has political experience. He received 6.2% of votes cast in the September election. His agenda includes long-term affordable housing for Boston’s citizens which incorporates rent control to ensure that highly vulnerable populations are protected from neighborhood displacement. 

In education, Halbert wants to ensure a smooth post-pandemic transition back to classrooms with the placement of mental health counselors and social workers in Boston’s public schools. He also supports moving school committee discussions online in an effort to encourage participation by parents and families. Halbert recognizes the inequities in Boston’s exam schools as they exist now and hopes, if elected, to reform the admission process for these institutions to help increase diversity and equity in their populations. 

Bridgit Nee-Walsh

Bridgit Nee-Walsh, with 5.5% of preliminary votes, is the eighth and final candidate that will appear on the at-large council ballot this Tuesday. She is a union member and has a familial history with workers’ organizations. She understands how drastically COVID-19 has impacted the educational trajectory of some students. 

To prevent further penalties as a result of school closures, Nee-Walsh proposes the use of tutoring services across Boston Public Schools and is open to discussions about a potential extension of the school year. 

Currently, many Boston developers are choosing to hire from non-local, non-unionized groups which is an issue that Nee-Walsh has felt first hand as a Local 7 ironworker. She hopes to introduce a requirement that new projects in the city employ unionized, Boston workers to help provide opportunities for constituents. 

The agenda of these eight at-large Boston City Council candidates are aligned in their acknowledgement of some of the most pressing issues facing Boston. They have offered valuable insight, through their various proposals, into addressing these problems which include a need for increased climate accountability, problems of educational equity, and intervention in Boston’s housing markets to ensure they remain affordable. Regardless of which candidates secure seats on Tuesday, this election has recognized problems and fostered thinking about diverse solutions that will lead to a better Boston.