Boston councilors go before voters Tuesday, days after pay hike

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2015/11/02/boston-councilors-go-before-voters-tuesday-days-after-pay-hike/

Boston voters get a chance to reflect their sentiments in the polling booth on Tuesday regarding a 14 percent pay raise the City Council gave itself last week.

Several of those who backed the increase face opponents in their bids for re-election, including three district councilors. Only one challenger is running for an at-large seat, so at least one of those incumbents will be re-elected, including one of the two who favored the pay raise.

The salary measure will boost the annual pay for a councilor by $12,000 to $99,500. At-large Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu were among those voting against it while Michael F. Flaherty and Stephen J. Murphy were in favor. Council members haven’t had a salary hike since 2006. Based on federal inflation measures, they would need to earn just over $103,000 to maintain the same level of purchasing power as their paychecks had in 2006.

Most of the attention tomorrow, however, is focused on District Four Councilor Charles Yancey’s effort to fend off newcomer Andrea Campbell, who came out on top in September’s preliminary election. Yancey, first elected in 1983, is the longest-serving member of the city’s legislative body. He voted against the pay hike when it passed 9-4 on Oct. 28, but previously favored an increase, according to the Boston Herald.

Campbell, a 33-year-old lawyer who worked as a deputy counsel in the administration of former Gov. Deval Patrick, received almost 58 percent of the votes cast to Yancey’s 34 percent amid very low turnout. She has been critical of the pay increase, which has been a contentious issue since last year.

In the at-large category, challenger Annissa Essaibi George is making her second bid for a seat. She is a former city teacher and the owner of a small business on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester, where she grew up. George, 41, narrowly missed winning a seat in 2013, finishing fifth, and has been outspoken in opposing the pay raise.

The two at-large members who favored the increase are among the longest-serving on the council. Murphy has had a seat since he was first elected in 1997. Flaherty was first elected in 1999.

Council President Bill Linehan proposed a 29 percent, or $25,000 increase in September 2014. His plan was widely criticized as excessive, and the council ultimately voted for a $20,000 boost that recently elected Mayor Martin Walsh vetoed. After an advisory study, Walsh proposed a $99,500 raise. Linehan sought a boost to $105,000 but the council backed the mayor’s plan.

Walsh, who said he wouldn’t take a pay increase called for under the measure, doesn’t come up for re-election until 2017. Linehan, the District Two councilor, faces no opposition for reelection. But three other district councilors, Tito Jackson of District Seven, Frank Baker of District Three and Timothy P. McCarthy of District Five all face opponents. All three voted in favor of the pay increase, which may reflect a low level of concern about being unseated Tuesday.

Jackson’s opponent, Charles L. Clemons Jr., received about 18 percent of the vote in the preliminary contest to Jackson’s 66 percent. Voting in September was confined to districts four and seven because there weren’t enough challengers in other races to merit preliminary rounds.

On Tuesday, Baker faces challenger Donnie Palmer and McCarthy’s opponent is Jean-Claude Sanon.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. in the city, one of 53 municipalities to hold local elections Tuesday, including Worcester, Springfield, Cambridge, Lowell and Brockton. In Boston, about 362,000 people were registered to vote as of Feb. 1, according to state records, while City Hall data indicate almost 373,000 residents are eligible to vote, including about 200,000 Democrats and 146,000 who are unenrolled, or independents.